Oh I can hear it now. The collective groans and sighs as I mention Christmas and worse yet, Christmas planning!
I know, I know. I am one of those people and I really don’t mean to make you feel bad, but I have Christmas fairly well sorted this year. Admittedly, it is slightly less organized (read totally up in the air!) than last year thanks to needing to move house any day now, but it is semi planned, well, in my head anyway.
It’s just one of those things though, isn’t it?
After another hectic, out of control festive season you think YES! I’ll be organised next year!, I’ll have presents stashed away, dinner/lunch planned, family/children organised and everything will just go smoothly. But when you realize it’s nearly November and Christmas is less than 8 weeks away, you suddenly grasp how seriously unorganized you are again and you just know that everything will go straight to hell in a hand basket.
Well I’m here to tell you IT’S NOT TOO LATE!
You can START PLANNING NOW and still be organized and have a fairly smooth running festive season. I say ‘fairly’ because, well, we all know that not even the best laid plans can fall in a heap at this time of year. But if you follow my simple fool proof steps you’ll be well onto a Martha Stewart level of Christmas cheer!!
- Write Everything Down NOW!
One of the biggest complaints of this time of year is just how busy we all get. Between Christmas parties, work functions, end of year celebrations, school wrap ups, kids concerts, gift shopping and booking in holidays, it can all get a little hectic…. and often, double booked.
Generally work parties and the likes are held on roughly the same dates each year, as are end of school concerts and sporting clubs wrap ups. So if you know the dates, pencil them in now! It doesn’t matter if you have to add the specific details later, at least now if you have all of your general information in one place where the whole family can see, you’ll be able to commit and decline invites accordingly.
Then as each new invite arrives, take the time to review it thoroughly, check your calendar and respond right away! (Yes, I know, crazy concept of replying to an RSVP immediately!) Pencil it straight onto the calendar and you’ll soon have yourself one very organised, albeit busy, schedule.
- Start A Present Buying List ASAP
I don’t know about you, but I find I think of great present ideas for people at the oddest of times and then promptly forget all about it when it actually comes time to start shopping. This is especially true while I’m perusing magazines, Instagram and Facebook.
So why not start a little list in a note on your phone, hey even go one step further and get really fancy by starting an Evernote file so that you can access it on every device you have!?
Be as specific as you can and list who you’re buying for, what you want to get, the price you saw it at and where to get the item including website or social media handle. There’s nothing worse than referring back to your list full of great gift ideas only to find you have no idea where to get it. (Trust me, I’ve done it a thousand times!)
What’s the best part about being so on top of everything? You’ll probably get to a point where you have several gift ideas for each person, meaning HELLO! Birthdays are now sorted too!
- Start Shopping Now & Do It Online!!
With so many different ways you can shop from the comfort of your own home, why would you ever leave the house? OK so it’s not always quite that easy, but there’s no harm in starting your Christmas shopping now in October…. I have!
This is especially true if you, like me, like to support small and local businesses. Often in a small or handmade biz you’ll need to give sufficient lead time for the item to be made or ordered, leaving it too late will mean you might just miss out.
Now that you have your gift list from above, start popping through and ordering bits and pieces as you see them. Or better yet, look for the Pre-Xmas Sales (trust me, most businesses have them and they can be well worth it!!), then you can tick the item and person off your list and come the week before Christmas you’ll be sitting back watching Michael Bublé sing with a glass of wine in hand, whilst everyone else is madly hitting the shops.
- Meal Plan Like Martha Stewart
Oh I’m being totally serious right now. I know the last thing you’re thinking about in October is Christmas ham and pudding, but rushing around last minute trying to find ingredients for a beautiful spread is just going to send you mad… and leave you with less than an ideal meal.
Hit up your recipe books, Pinterest, magazines and websites now. Rip out or copy down the recipes you’d really like to whip up (whether you’re hosting or not!) and start a shopping list. This way when your local butcher advertises that he’s taking Christmas ham orders you can get in first and claim the best and biggest looking beast!
- Budget Like A Banker
Now that you’ve got a rough idea about where you’ll be going for the holidays, what presents you’ll be buying (that you’ve hopefully already started shopping for) and what food you’ll need to have on hand to feed the hungry hoards, you’ll be able to budget accordingly.
I don’t mean you need an itemized Excel spreadsheet (though I would be seriously impressed if you did have one!) but a rough idea of expenditure is always helpful. Now you can set aside a little here or there, start cutting back those take away coffees or even get to selling off your no longer worn wardrobe, all to raise a little bit of cash and take the pressure off the silly season.
Christmas really can be a hectic and chaotic time of year, but with a little bit of forward thinking and a few notes here and there you really can be Super Woman and do it all! When it comes right down to it though, the festive season is about spending time with family and making beautiful memories, running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off is only going to detract from that.
So there you have it, my 5 fool proof ways to make your Christmas and holiday season stress free and relaxed. Oh, and don’t forget to try and take five minutes for yourself, even if it’s just to sit and read a book or drink a cup of tea uninterrupted. We all need to take care of ourselves too!
What else do you rely on to make it through the craziness? (and don’t say egg nog!!)