Posted by: Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle | November 27, 2010

Survive the Holidays with a Plan

I remember as a kid watching my parents get stressed during the holidays, taking on a frazzled look by the week after Thanksgiving and then being pretty much fried by Christmas Eve. As I got older, I saw the same phenomenon happen with friends that got all flustered by the activities, to-dos and demands during the holidays. There is a way to avoid some of the craziness though! Make your Holid-A-Plan.

It goes like this. Grab your calendar (yes you do have to organize a little bit) and mark down the days you already know you have plans such as parties, family get-togethers, etc. Those are your deadlines. Now if you start now, just after Thanksgiving, you have plenty of time to create a timeline of holiday to-dos and plan it all out.

Once you know when your holiday engagements are, start with the three big research projects: Gift Shopping, Sending Cards and Cooking.

  1. Gift Shopping – Catch up with those closest to your after Thanksgiving and see if they have any holiday gift ideas, make a list targeting in on one or two special gifts for each and go from there.  Once you have the ideas or general needs, hit online and start shopping. You’re pretty safe doing your online shopping for the first couple of weeks in December, but after that you’re cutting it close. Also, plan to make or purchase one or two good-for-everyone-gifts (candy, decorations, candles, etc) that you can give as supplements to friends and family and that you can also give as gifts at work and on the fly. *Follow your favorite brands on Facebook and Twitter ESPECIALLY around the holidays as they often post exclusive deals.
  2. Sending Cards – I have been a green-holiday card giver in the past. Meaning I send e-cards instead of going through all the work of sending actual cards. I’ve grown to look at sending cards as almost a thoughtful gift now though, so I compromise. The weekend after Thanksgiving, while you’re in the holiday mood with music and decorations coming out, sit down and make a list of all the people you’d like to send a card to. Don’t worry about the 3rd-degree relations and acquaintances though, they are the perfect candidates for a fun personalized e-card. Once you know how many cards you’ll need, hit the stores during a lunch break or evening and pick out your cards. Plan to set aside a night to write them out with little notes and make a goal to send by the second week of December (if you’ve moved within the last year, send them out as close to December 1st as possible to get your new address reminder to folks though).
  3. Cooking – Possibly my favorite part of the holidays is the food that you enjoy with friends and family. So start picking up the holiday magazines as soon as you can to get inspired, and subscribe to a few email recipe lists like the Food Network and Martha Stewart who do some variation of “The 25 days of cooking/cookies”. Then pull out the family recipes and time out in your plan when you should plan to make them and for what. Homemade cookies and candies make great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers, so consider that in your timeline.

The best way to build out your plan is to set your deadlines and then work backwards. Have a holiday party at work the week before Christmas? Plan to get your cooking/prep done a few days beforehand so you can finish everything quickly the night before. Getting together with friends on the 12th to exchange gifts? Aim to get/express deliver their gifts first.

Planning out your holiday schedule and to-do list will prevent much of that frantic running-around on Christmas Eve, searching for stocking stuffers and ingredients, and hopefully you’ll get to just enjoy the holiday, decorations, food, music and TV specials.

Stay tuned as I’ll be posting some gift ideas (easy to find online) soon as well!


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