Already stressing about all the holiday tasks ahead? Where did you store that wrapping paper and holiday cards you bought at last year's after-Christmas sales? Where is the tree stand? Did anyone finally throw away the broken twinkle lights? Will the dog destroy any ornaments he can reach this year (again)?
Relax. If you take a little time to plan right now, you can make this holiday season more enjoyable for you and your family! Here are some easy tips that will make December merry.
Tips to Reduce Your Holiday Stress
Search for Rudolph now! When her menorah went missing last year, Brooklyn organizer Amanda Wiss (urbanclarity.net) learned a lesson about missing gear: Whatever holidays you celebrate, start looking NOW for that unused stack of greeting cards, the blinking Rudolph centerpiece that makes your kids laugh, unlit menorah candles, the present you bought for your mother in April. It's key to find or replace whatever's essential before you truly need those things. If they're scattered about your home, buy a plastic bin or two or three to store holiday-themed items when you unearth them this year. (That's where you'll put them when the holidays are over.)
Review and remove. Does the multi-colored blinking Santa Claus still work? Do you really need that last little bit of Snoopy Christmas paper? Maybe it's time to buy some new cocktail napkins or a new dreidel. Wiss says to take time now to learn what you've collected. Keep the unopened wrapping paper and baby's first ornament, says Wiss, but consider giving away the plaid Christmas table runner you've never liked. Pass it on or donate it to charity now so others may benefit in time for the holidays.
Make a list and check it twice. Don't assume you're going to remember that great bundt pan you want to buy for your mom or that fantastic apple crisp recipe you found at rachaelray.com. When you forget, that's a recipe for holiday stress, says Sammamish, WA organizer Debbie Rosement (itssimplyplaced.com). Carry a small notebook in your purse or briefcase and start jotting down the things you want to do, remember, or buy for the holidays. You may want to list gifts to be purchased, people to send cards to or menu ideas for a party.
Avoid the post office madness. Get your stamps now and avoid long lines at the post office later. Rosement says to make sure you have current addresses for everyone you’d like to send a card to. If your contacts are stored on your computer, you can print labels (or ask an older child to help you stamp and address envelopes). And if you're taking a family photo, chose a sunny summer picture or shoot the photo now so you don’t have to rush at the last minute.
Clear out your kitchen. Toss out old ingredients and other clutter and make a shopping list of the basics you’ll need for holiday cooking and baking, suggests Rosemont. Make space for new ingredients and for dishes you’ll prepare and store by getting rid of anything that’s past its prime. Start making lists of holiday menus you want to prepare.
Choose outfits. If you know you’ll have at least one party, event or religious service that you and your kids will need special clothes for, LaGrange, IL organizer Leslie Conneely (spacesimplified.com) suggests picking them out now to avoid any last minute trips to the mall during the busy shopping rush. Make sure those sparkly tights don’t have any holes, the lace-up shoes still fit and the fancy dress meets your pre-teen’s approval now so that you won’t have to think about it later.
Traveling for the holidays? Rosemont recommends creating a packing list now and adding to it up until the day you need to pack. Consider the weather and activities you’ll engage in while you’re on your trip. Remember important but often forgotten items like chargers for any electronics you’re taking and medications. You can add to the list as you think of more things. When it comes time to pack, you’ll just need to gather the things on your list and pack them in your suitcase.
Remember to eat. While the one or two big holiday meals are important to plan ahead for, Conneely says to remember that your family needs to eat dinner every other night too! Spend some time now stocking your freezer with as many easy soups, stews and make-ahead meals that you can just take out and heat up at the end of those busy December days.
Consider New Years cards. The whole family can work on them together in the post-Christmas lull, and yours won’t get lost in the mailbox with a dozen others that all come December 22!