5 things to do now to make December less stressful!
It’s November 1st and that means there are 55 days until Christmas, but who’s counting?! For me, as an organizer by nature, but most importantly as a lover of people, I like to be intentional about how to best love those around me and how to bring them into my home with warmth and grace... especially around the holidays. Perhaps like some of you, I cannot do that well if I don't have a plan. I love a few tips as much as the next gal, so here are mine when it comes to being prepared enough that I can intentionally slow down and enjoy the holiday season.
1. Make a list of people you plan to buy gifts for. List EVERYONE: your spouse, kids, parents, in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends, hair stylist, kids’ teachers, mail carrier. You get the point. Make sure everyone is included on this list and then assign a budget for each person’s gift. As you’re buying gifts (which you should start now), jot down the actual price of the items you’ve purchased and then mark it off as purchased or ordered. I created the document above so I can write the year at the top of the page, re-print it and re-use it year after year. I have a 3-ringed binder where I keep these lists, because I don’t know about you, but I often forget how much I spent on teachers gifts last year or how much I gave our garbage haulers. It’s good to have a record of it.
2. Set up a wrapping station and wrap gifts as you buy them. There’s nothing like waiting for the last minute and then having dozens of gifts to wrap a few days before Christmas. When I wrap early I leave off the pretty bows (for now) so I can easily stack them on top of one another while I store them on my laundry room counter. I write who they are to and from on the back of the package. Once my Christmas tree is up and decorated (usually around Thanksgiving) I’ll go back and put a pretty bow on the packages and stack them under the tree.
I corral my wrapping paper and ribbon in one of these from the Container Store. It's a bit pricy, but I waited for it to go on sale. (The Container Store usually has their annual elfa sale from Dec. 24-mid Feb. It's generally 30% off all products and installation.)
Another tip: I have three bins in our laundry room cupboards, where I throw little gifts I find throughout the year for my three kids. (Think Target end-cap clearance items, etc.) That way I have most of my stocking stuffers ready to be wrapped well before December.
3. Get started on your Holiday cards. If you’re like me and you love sending and receiving holiday cards, now is the time to get started. If you haven’t already, and you plan to have professional photos taken, schedule them now. If you want to use a snapshot(s) from your past year, look through your images and choose which one(s) to use. Now is also a good time to update your address list. Go through and make note of anyone you know who has moved recently and send them a quick text or email asking for their new address. That way you’re ready to go when it's time to address and mail your cards.
4. Start planning for holiday parties. We don't host something large every year, but the years we do I'm always glad when I start making my lists early. The event could be a Favorite Things party with your girlfriends or a Christmas morning brunch with your extended family. Whatever the occasion, now is the time to start your lists: guest list, menu, decorations, etc. Opening your home is a gift in itself, but it's especially nice when you're not stressed about the details.
For me, hospitality is about gathering those we love and creating a space for others to feel welcomed and wanted. I admittedly struggle with the hype and consumerism around Christmas, and yet I love the traditions and memories created this time of year. So my last tip is the most important one:
5. Keep things as simple as your heart needs them to be! Our homes (and our holidays) do not need to be perfectly planned or spotless, just available.
So here's to the next 55 days. Let's take a bit of intentional time now so that we can enjoy December and the true significance of Christmas as stress-freely as possible.