Planning For the Holidays–Part 1

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but the holidays are just around the corner.  Make this the year that everything runs smoothly.  If you start planning now, there’s no reason why that can’t happen.

So let’s get started and turn over another leaf!


“The more prepared I am, the more I’ll be in control, less nervous, less stressed and more focused.”  Marilu Henner

Never has this statement been truer than when it comes to the holidays.

If Thanksgiving was too hectic, think about what you can do differently.  I’m not going to scare you and tell you how many days are left until Christmas.

Start Early
Spreading out your tasks over an eight-week period instead of trying to cram everything into the last few weeks is the best approach.

Family Traditions
Now is the time to think about your family traditions.  Which are your most favourite?  Which are your least favourite?  You don’t have to do something just because you feel it is expected.  It might not be as important to others as you think.  Talk to your family about eliminating the least favourite.

If dinner is at your home this year, and the idea of cooking dinner for 25 people overwhelms you, don’t try to do it all yourself.  Make it a potluck dinner.  Ask relatives or friends to bring their favourite dish.  Remember to keep a list, so that you don’t end up with too much of an item.

Calendar and Activities Schedule
Update your family calendar with school events, parties, concerts, parades and tournaments.  Try not to overschedule yourself.  Remember that it’s OK to say NO!  It may be tough if you’re not used to it.  If you do say no, don’t feel guilty about it.

Create a Master List
Your master list should contain all of the tasks that you want to complete.  Write the tasks on your calendar and plan to do one task each day.

Start a notebook, and make a list of everyone for whom you need to find a gift.  Ask for suggestions.  Listen carefully to people; they often provide ideas without even realizing it.  Don’t forget to jot down ideas as you think of them.

Your time is valuable; perhaps you can order online or use the Yellow Pages.  Call ahead to see if the store has an item in stock.  Most stores will set items aside.

Label an envelope for gift receipts.  If an item needs to be returned or exchanged, you’ll only have one place to look.

Stock up on any items you need–especially if they’re on sale.  Pick up hostess gift items—boxes of holiday chocolates, holiday napkins tied up with colourful ribbon, a bottle of their favourite beverage, etc.

Give gifts that are kind to the environment.  Check out the many church bazaars and shows which showcase talented local artisans.  A gift certificate to a nursery for plants, flowers or trees makes a great gift for someone who loves gardening.

Make your own gift certificates—several hours of babysitting for a friend, a home-cooked dinner, shovelling snow for a neighbour, etc.  Let your children have some fun creating the gift certificates.

For those people who have everything, make a donation to their favourite charity.  Make a donation to a Christmas Goodwill program in their name.  Or give them a card stating that you have bought an Angel Tree gift, so that a child has a gift to open on Christmas morning.

Would four kinds of cookies suffice for the six or eight kinds you made last year?  Organize a cookie exchange.  M
ake sure to order ahead from your favourite bakery, if you decide not to bake.   If you have a friend who loves to bake, ask her if she’ll bake for you in exchange for wrapping gifts or another task.

Try out new recipes ahead of time.  Don’t attempt them on Christmas Eve when you have numerous other things to worry about.

When cooking meals now, double the recipe and put the second batch in the freezer.  You’ll appreciate not having to cook when you have a particularly hectic night.

Make time to volunteer—even if it’s for a couple of hours.  Involve your children.  Whether it’s buying gifts, serving a meal at a soup kitchen, helping at the Food Bank, wrapping gifts, delivering Christmas hampers or visiting with someone who lives alone, there are unlimited ways to get involved in your community.

Realistic Expectations
We all want everything to be perfect, but it’s not good if we’re so stressed that we can’t enjoy it.  Be realistic.  Set reasonable limits on gift-making, wrapping and baking projects.  Don’t add to your stress level by being a perfectionist.

The important thing about the holidays is that you set aside some time to be with your relatives, friends and neighbours or doing whatever means the most to you!

I invite you to share our newsletter with your friends and family. As well, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next month!

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