Plan Ahead for a Relaxing Christmas
It's a Magical Christmas
Fitting Everything in Can Make You Crazy!
Remember when you were little and Christmas was a magical time of year. The tree, the decorations, sweet fudge and cookies, Santa and oh, those presents! It was great during that carefree time. Nothing to think about but enjoying all that Christmas had to offer.
But, now that you are grown, you find that you don't think too much about Christmas until about a week or two prior and then you scramble to buy the tree and decorate it and the house, stopping after work or struggling with the weekend crowds to buy all the presents as well as staying up late to wrap them. Then, on top of that there is the baking of Christmas goodies and if you have time, you may send out a few Christmas cards in between going to your child's Christmas play and partaking of several Christmas parties.
The Christmas holidays ARE magical, but for so many it is very chaotic and stressful. There is so much we try to cram into such a short period of time that when Christmas arrives we breath a sigh of relief that finally everything is done, instead being relaxed and rejoicing in the spirit of the season.
So, time after time you swear you're going to start earlier the next year and be able to enjoy the holidays.....well, now is your chance to make the change.
Here's a guide to help you plan ahead for a relaxing Christmas. If you aren't reading this until December, print it out and put it with your Halloween decorations. Then when you pull that scary witch out next year, you'll see this guide and know it's time to start your Christmas planning.
Keeping Track of Progress Will Things Going Smoothly
List the People You will be Buying For
Buy Online Early for Good Sales and to Keep Ahead of the Crowd
Where to Start: Week One
I will be breaking it up into 4 weeks with a summary at the end for easy reference. If followed, by the end of the first week of December you'll be coasting with a cup of eggnog and watching "It's a wonderful life" with no cares in the world!
So, it's the beginning of November. Now obviously each year the calendar changes so when I say first week, I'm basically talking about the first full week of the month, but it doesn't mean you can't start in the middle of the week and get a head start if the first say, starts on a Wednesday.
First, put together your list of people you'll be buying for. Divide that list into three equal or close to equal parts, but, put those you plan to buy the big ticket items for on part three (you'll see why in the next paragraph.) Now, during week one of November buy the gifts on part one of your list. (Part one, first week, part two, second week etc). By the first week of December, almost all of your gifts will be taken care of. There always are an unexpected one or two, but this will, for the most part, be a done deal. It's your preference to wait until all presents are together to wrap them or wrap as you go, but don't wait until well into December....remember it's time to relax at that point.
Time to start shopping. The big super sales start on Black Friday, and now even Thanksgiving is a huge sale day, so use those (if sales are important to your budget) for the great big items. If you're planning on buying a TV, gaming console, Ipod etc, and don't mind waiting in very long lines for a chance to nab the item desired, hold off to buy those right after Thanksgiving (the end of week three). However, sales are starting earlier and earlier as retailers are all trying to capitalize on a bigger buying season. You don't even have to leave your house if you don't feel like it as Amazon, and Ebay, are very user friendly and stress free, just place your order and doing it this early gives you peace of mind that everything will arrive in plenty of time.
(If you are looking for gifts, but you're on a budget, check out the link at the bottom of the article for some great ideas.)
Slow and Steady Beats the Stress
A Helping Hand Makes Baking More Fun
Second Week of November
You now are on your second part of the list. How did everything go on list one? If you haven't finished it yet, no worries, just add it to this week, but try not fall behind too much. This strategy is to give you a restful Christmas season, but it isn't intended to add more stress now! Spreading everything out early is the key!
It's a week before Thanksgiving, so continue to buy all gifts, on part one (if not finished) as well as those on part two. If you are breezing along ahead of schedule then, by all means start on part three! It will save you some time if you are the one that does most the Thanksgiving preparations.
If you are the baker in the house and you plan to have several goodies on hand, bake a batch or two of your favorite holiday recipes, and freeze them in freezer lock bags. It's always more fun with someone to help!
When I was a daycare provider my gift each year to my families was giving them a canister of Christmas goodies. I made four or five different batches of cookies, plus fudge, rocky road, and Rice Krispy treats. I started in November and cooked a batch or two a week so that by Christmas I had seven or eight freezer bags full of delicious desserts and snacks.
Their Beginning is Your Ending!
Week Three, Moving to the End
At the end of this week the big holiday shopping season kicks off, and although most everyone else will now start thinking of Christmas, remember, you have already jumped WAY AHEAD and that has to make you feel really good!
Shop for those you have in part three. Black Friday is also coming up this week for those people you've saved to the end for this purpose. After this week your shopping is finalized. You'll have the satisfaction of knowing the biggest and most stressful part is complete and it's not even December yet!
It's a good time also to add another baked good to the freezer.
Don't Mind Santa, All Help is Good Help!
Week Four, Almost Done!
By this point you should be done with gifts (with a possible one or two presents left for that hard to buy person).
Be proud of yourself! You have accomplished an awful lot already. You're in the final stretch now.
On this last week of November you can finish the remainder of "things to do", but if it goes into the first week of December you still have several weeks to revel in the spirit of the holiday.
If you haven't started wrapping presents, do a few each night this week (or all in one night if you are inspired).
Put up your Christmas tree and decorate the house.
Bake a few more batches of goodies if you still need more.
Send out any Christmas cards if that is your tradition.
- Make your list of people to buy for, broken up into 3 equal parts. If you're planning to buy big items for anyone, put them in part 3rd (if you'll be partaking in the Black Friday sales).
- Start buying your gifts for all people on part 1 of your list.
- If not finished, buy those gifts missed on week 1. Buy for those on your list, part 2.
- Start some baking and put in the freezer in Ziplock freezer bags.
- Finish buying all gifts on your list, including those big sale items (Black Friday sales)
- Continue baking those holiday treats!
Fourth (or even fifth week if needed):
- Put up tree and decorate it and the house.
- Finalize any more baking you plan to do.
- Finish any wrapping left to do.
- Send out the Christmas cards.
Now it is Time to Relax
The Christmas season has always been intended for rejoicing in the birth of Jesus and giving thanks for all our blessings. Planning ahead gives us the time to relax and focus on what is so precious in our lives instead of stressing over them.
- Budget gifts for all occasions
Gifts don't have to be expensive. Check out some ingenious ways to give without breaking the bank.