Holiday Planning Made Easy
by Katherine Denton
The most wonderful time of the year? Not always… For many, the holidays incite panic and an overwhelming sense of dread. The common feeling is that there is so much to do and so little time to do it. But with a bit of pre-season organizing and planning, you can keep the crazy out of Christmas and truly enjoy the magic of the season. A few reality checks early on and you can have a happy holiday with no regrets.
How much do the holidays cost?
More importantly, how much are you willing to spend? To reduce pre/post-holiday stress, create a realistic budget. Start by creating a list of all the expenses you foresee for your family’s holiday spending. Budget categories might include:
- Holiday photos and cards
- Travel expenses
- Postage and shipping
- Tips and service gifts
- Holiday clothing
- Décor items and Christmas tree
- Charitable donations
- Holiday meals
- Baking and kitchen gifts
- Home improvements
Determine your budget and then decide on a spending limit for each category. Prioritize what’s most important to you. Before you spend, check the budget. Record actual spending to stay aware of your budget status. Monitor your budget so you won’t be having the credit card blues come the New Year.
Do you have FMO (fear of missing out)?
A holiday event planner is the safest way to ward off regrets. You can use a daily/weekly/monthly calendar or a scheduling app like Google Calendar that the whole family can use. Include all holiday events like parties, travel plans, guest arrivals, plays, shows, decorating, shopping etc. on your calendar. Consider what you will you need for these events. A new outfit? A dish to bring? Schedule time in the planner to get these things done as well.
Don’t forget to factor in deadlines for shopping, shipping and baking. A few items to consider scheduling before the holidays are in full swing: haircuts and personal care, holiday card photo session, chimney and HVAC inspection and carpet cleaning. Keep stress in check by scheduling in some “time off” as well as time for exercise. It is common to reduce your exercise time during the holidays but you will feel and look better if you stay on your regular exercise schedule.
Really, you can’t do it all…
Please be kind to yourself! Seek good enough over perfection. Holiday planning can be a lonely burden – but involving others, especially children can be very exciting for them. They can make decorations, help put them up, and maybe even assist you with the baking. Do you dislike decorating but love to bake? Do you have a friend who dislikes baking but loves to decorate? Then swap tasks, you bake for two, and she can decorate for two. If you both do what you love to do, then everyone is happy.
Skip the mall. Simplify gift giving by shopping online. You can open several online tabs allowing you to comparison shop without ever leaving the house. Purchase gift cards. Instead of struggling to find the perfect gift, a gift card to stores, spas, movie theaters you know they will enjoy make wonderful holiday gifts.
Hosting a holiday party? Consider a potluck instead of baking all the food yourself. This is a great way to lower your budget and have fun. Plan for time and money crunches. You don’t have to make everything from sratch. Over budget? The holidays will not be ruined if you are unable to afford something. The season is not about the “stuff” anyway. All your planning and organizing will insure that you and your family enjoy each other during the holidays.