Holiday preparationsDo you flinch at the very thought of the coming holidays? Are you afraid you won’t select the perfect gifts? Or forget to prepare a favorite dish? Or maybe miss sending a card to someone you have not seen for a long time? Are you so busy rushing around performing tasks that you don’t get a chance to visit with your guests? Holidays can be very stressful events for a variety of reasons. The most popular main holidays, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas are probably the most stressful, but they don’t have to be. It should be a festive time for families and friends to gather and share traditions, to celebrate together in their own special ways. Family traditions are handed down through the generations, and new ones discovered, to become part of these yearly events. There is so much to do to keep these traditions alive that we can lose sight of what the holiday truly means. There are some simple strategies below you can implement before and after, that will make your holidays truly enjoyable.

During the year

• Gifts – During shopping trips, keep an eye out for that perfect gift for that special someone and buy it when you see it. Same goes for catalog and Internet shopping. Designate an area of your home to house these gifts, so you have them all together in the same place.

• Address book – Keep your addresses current, whether they are on your computer, phone, or an actual book.

Two months prior

• Lists – These are critical to the success of holiday preparations. Put a category and the current year as the header to each list. Below is an example of some categories you can use for your lists.

Gifts – Write down names, gift ideas, clothing sizes, etc. If you purchased gifts earlier in the year, add them to your list, now you have fewer items to buy so you’ve saved yourself some time!

Greeting Cards – For each holiday, list the names of family and friends that you want to send a greeting card to, and the year you sent the card. Create a greeting card station with an expandable file. Label each file for the type of greeting card and keep the envelope with each card. Label the first folder for ‘Supplies’ and use it to store your list of names, address book, pens, return address labels, postage stamps, etc.

Supplies – As part of the tradition of each season, determine what supplies are needed. For example, pumpkins & gourds, greeting cards, wrapping paper, nuts and candy.

Menu – Plan the traditional fare for each holiday menu, and include the ingredients, so you will have your grocery shopping list ready to go.

• Create a plan – Write down everything you need to do for each holiday. If you are hosting the holiday in your home, include all tasks that need to be done, from cleaning the house and decorating, to preparing and serving a meal. Estimate how much time is needed for each task, and when it can be performed. Assign family members to some of the tasks if possible to lessen your load. Don’t forget to include dates of social events, such as attend religious services, school plays, and parties.

• Decorations – Check your holiday decorations for items that need to be repaired or replaced. Be sure to include replacement decorations in your list of supplies above.
After the holiday

• Attend after Christmas sales – This is a good time to save some money on supplies for next year’s holidays.

• Decorations –

Take pictures of your decorated spaces so you know exactly where the decorations go next year.

Take down decorations, containerize and label the containers and keep the pictures of the decorated spaces with them.

• Lists – Update your lists with notes so you know what worked and didn’t for next year’s holiday events.