1. What makes the holidays special for you?
Think about what makes the holidays special to you. Write it down and let this be your guide for planning the season. You'll be able to weed out unnecessary activities and expenses and focus on what is important to you. Keep it simple!
2. Greeting cards:
Decide whether to send cards or postcards. If you're feeling creative, consider making your own cards either by hand or on your computer.
Stock up on stamps - you can even order them online at www.usps.com.
Send overseas and out-of-state cards and packages as early as possible.
Get organized by keeping a list of to whom you are sending cards. Record names, addresses, and the dates to send. Check off each person on your list as you send his/her card. If someone you forgot sends you a card, you can add him/her to the list.
3. Gift list:
Keep a small notebook with you with a list of names, gift ideas and requests, and costs.
Include stocking stuffers on this list.
You can use this notebook for your own wish list as well.
Set price limits and stick to them. If you budget carefully, you'll know if you can afford that extra gift that's perfect for Uncle Jack.
Use the notebook to keep track of purchases.
Did you start shopping earlier in the year? Don't forget about gifts you've put aside.
Stock up early on supplies: wrapping paper, tape, tags, tissue, cards, stamps, film, etc.
Wrap and label as you go. You don't want to find out you didn't buy enough paper an hour before the big holiday party.
If shopping online or through catalougs, many gifts and be wrapped and/or sent directly to the recipient.
Consider negotiating the unwritten rules in your family about adult gift exchanges. Perhaps everyone could give to charity instead, or just save some cash.
Remember: give from the heart, not out of obligation. You don't have to overspend to show that you care.
4. Create a calendar to schedule holiday commitments and events:
Organize your time week-by-week. Plan times for cleaning, decorating, preparing room for guests, shopping, wrapping, sending cards, preparing food, and hosting and attending holiday parties and events.
Select menues early and add all the ingrediants you'll need to your grocery list.
Stock up on disposable platters, pans, etc. You don't want to lose (or break) your favorite dish.
If everyone loves your famous meatballs, stick with them! Make two batches and freeze one for the next event you'll be attending.
Planning a new dish? Try making it a few days ahead of time. Test it with your family. You'll want to know if it's easy enough to make - and if it's worth the effort!
Make a family wardrobe check. Write down what each family member plans to wear to each event and make a list of items to buy.
Schedule family haircut appointments.
Schedule family (and pet) portraits.
Keep regular bedtimes for everyone in the family - even yourself. Anyone can get stressed and cranky when they haven't had enough sleep.
5. Make time for yourself:
Many of us turn into holiday robots, filling our every waking moment with buying, baking, wrapping, entertaining, and rushing. As you plan for meeting your holiday goals, schedule in a little down time for yourself....a long hot bath, some quiet reading, or a walk around the neighborhood to see your neighbors' decorations. Recharge your batteries for all of the excitement ahead. Let the joy of the season be your motivation for all of your holiday activities.
Enjoy your holiday season!