Hands up if the approaching holiday season fills you with dread? It really is a roller-coaster of celebrations with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years all happening in a short period. Schedules are overflowing with events such as family meals, parties and parades that can leave us drained. That’s before we’ve even thought about buying and wrapping gifts or grocery shopping and cooking for our eager guests. Not only are we stretched in all directions, the financial and mental strain can also take its toll. Here a few tips on how to get prepared for the holidays – I hope they help ease the stress and make it a season of joy!
Let’s face it, holiday music being played in the stores before December 1st can be a little irritating, however it’s never too early to start planning and preparing. Sit down in a quiet place, with no distractions (a glass of wine always helps!) and write down everything you want to plan for over the next couple of months. Try to be realistic and don’t feel bad about cutting things from the list. You can’t do everything so don’t set yourself up for disaster by trying. Look for things that can be done earlier in the year and you’ll find you can gradually check things off your list and be ahead of the game!
Stick to a Budget
It’s so easy to get carried away with holiday spending and there’s always an endless list of items to pay for. Try to set a budget for the main things like grocery shopping and gifts, and try to shop early to spread out the payments. Doing a bit at a time throughout the year can save you from last minute panic buying and allows you to take advantage of sale events. It’s totally fine to buy decorations and gift-wrap in the post-holiday sales too!
While it’s lovely to receive gifts, buying thoughtful gifts for others can be quite stressful. Try making a gift list in advance for your family and friends rather than scratching your head the day before, trying to figure out what to buy them. Aside from traditional gift giving, there are many other options to show your loved ones that you care about them.
You could agree, as a family, to just give presents to the children, which makes it easier and cheaper. It also means less clutter being added to your home, which we’ve been working so hard to eliminate!
Another fun thing to do is a gift exchange, where everyone only has to give one gift, often with a spending limit. You might decide to give yourselves a ‘family experience’ rather than exchanging physical gifts – what a wonderful way to create memories together! And if you are feeling particularly charitable, you can do away with gifts all together and donate the money to a good cause.
De-clutter and breathe
Clutter can add to anxiety and make it hard to focus, so start your holiday season with a clean slate. This is a good time to get rid of the old and make way for the new, be it your pantry, kids rooms or closets. Donating old toys and games as well as clothing and unwanted gifts to charity can be a fun thing to do with children.
Clearing out your master bedroom can give you a calm sanctuary in which to escape during the busy season, and help maintain your sanity! If you need some decluttering inspo, then my articles on living minimally or the KonMari method might help you!
We all love to eat and drink over the holidays, don’t we? Cooking and preparing for a houseful takes time and effort, and is best not left until the day before. A good trick is to delegate as much as possible, saving you precious time and money. Ask each guest to contribute a dish or two.
Try preparing dishes that can be frozen ahead of time such as pies, cakes and cookies. This can be a lifesaver if you have unexpected guests, just grab something you prepared earlier from the freezer and hey presto!
Family traditions old and new
We all get carried along in the festive chaos, sometimes without thinking about what’s important to us. Do we need to continue child-hood traditions for the sake of it? For some people the answer is yes, their 30-year-old son may still want to receive their stocking from Santa or decorate gingerbread houses. But for others, they may have outgrown those old traditions, so it could be a good time to ditch them and move on. Time to make new memories!
Be kind to you
It’s easy to get caught up in the hullabaloo and forget to take care of yourself. It’s important to carve out some ‘you-time’, be it getting your hair and nails done for a holiday party, or simply staying home and unwinding with a glass of wine. Filling every second of every day can leave you feeling burnt out. Don’t expect too much of yourself, and if things go wrong? Laugh it off, nobody will even notice.
The holidays are a time for fun and celebration, and a time for selflessness. But actually it’s fine to be a little selfish. You need to look after yourself in order to do a good job of looking after everybody else. A little advanced planning, delegating, de-cluttering and letting go can work wonders. By following at least some of the tips above, you will be in good shape for a stress-free, fun and relaxing holiday season!
If you need a little help preparing for the holidays, then get in touch! I can help with gift-wrapping, indoor decorating, and of course organizing and decluttering your home to make it guest ready! Just get in touch using the form below.