10 Keys to Getting Organized for the Holidays

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The winter holidays are nearly upon us. Will you be ready for them? With so much celebrating compressed between Thanksgiving and New Years, the degree to which you plan ahead can significantly shape your experience. These 10 keys can help:

Decide on your level of participation

Some people completely throw themselves into the holidays; others prefer to keep things simple. Deciding in advance how much you can take on this year will greatly protect you from last minute pressures.

Set the expectation

Once you clarify your vision, talk with loved ones. Figure out who will host holiday meals. Bringing a side dish and/or bottle of wine may be more manageable for you this year. If you want to simplify in other areas, be sure others know for their own planning.

Make a list

When you’re organized, the weeks leading up to the holidays will be far less chaotic. Start by listing everything that needs to be accomplished between now and New Years Eve. This will help you stay focused on your planning as festivities approach.

Set your budget

What do you want to spend on gifts, food, entertainment, etc.? Deciding early on will help you stay within your means. You might even set up a holiday account rather than running up credit cards as many families do. Post-holiday debt can be stressful.

Calendar all holiday events

You may need to create a shared holiday calendar when you’re juggling multiple schedules. What parties and events are important to you? While you can’t attend everything, setting your priorities as a family will help prevent calendar conflicts.

Take action on holiday cards

If you send holiday cards, that’s an easy item to handle in advance. First, update your mailing list, then decide on cards, photo montage, a detailed letter─whatever you prefer. You can order cards now, and even have them addressed and stamped by Dec. 1st.

Decide on entertaining

If you plan on hosting family for holiday meals, there are many ways you can plan ahead. Will you hold an open house, dinner or holiday party? If so, begin a separate party “to do” list: what you’ll serve, who will bring additional items, what dishes/stemware you’ll need, etc.

Sort out the gift issue

Do you plan to buy presents for your kids, your entire family, friends, teachers, or business associates? Remember, sometimes less is more. Keeping it simple is better for many families─and easier on the budget too. A shared café latte, hug, smile, holiday card, or heartfelt well-wish are precious gifts too!

Consider holiday meals

If you decide to host a holiday meal, why prepare every dish? Guests enjoy contributing too, and everyone can cook, bake, or buy something. Determine what you can do and delegate from there to ensure your entrée, side dishes, condiments, wine/champagne, and desserts are covered.

Give the gift of self care

While smart advance planning lightens your load, it’s still a very intense couple of months, and some people run themselves ragged. Strike a healthy balance between extending yourself to others and taking time to eat well, exercise, and rest too.

The idea is to have fun and minimize stress around festivities. Getting organized helps you do so. Here’s to a fabulous holiday season!

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