Holiday stress happens when you wait until the eleventh hour to decorate, shop, ship and bake. Don't.
Marni’s Holiday Checklist
If you’re like me, and don’t want another season of overspending, overachieving, overeating, and generally overdoing, and if you want a great holiday season, minus the stress, guilt, migraines and exhaustion, I have some advice. I looked back at past years for what I’ve done wrong and right. I made a list and checked it twice, and have this holiday plan for a beautiful, enjoyable, and almost-stress-free season. The secret is to start early, pace yourself, and take shortcuts. The holiday countdown begins Thanksgiving weekend. You have four weeks until Christmas.
On your mark, get set ….!
Decorate: Put up your tree and other holiday decorations, including lights if that’s part of your program.
Simplicity Tip: Don’t spread your decorations all over the house. Instead, go all out in a few spots, like the entryway, mantels and hearths, the banister, the powder room, and the dining room table. This makes decorating and undecorating easier.
Send Cards: Get the family photo (if you’re doing one, and get your holiday cards – imprinted. Gather your address list, forget the letter, really, and send out your greetings.
Simplicity Tip: I’ve used www.shutterfly.com for my holiday cards. The company offers a nice variety of card styles, is fast, reasonable, and lets you create your photo card online.
Simplicity Tip: Long ago I gave up hand addressing envelopes. It’s really okay to print your envelopes using your computer printer, or to use pre-printed labels. Just use a festive script font and ink in a holiday color.
Shop, Wrap & Ship: Create your gift list. Remember everyone you forgot last year. Consider teachers, special neighbors, dog groomers, hairdressers, housekeepers, the bus driver and the newspaper carrier. Once your list is complete, create a per-gift budget, then shop all at once online as much as possible. Try to limit outings to retail stores to one or two power trips. Because wrapping always takes longer than you think, accept stores offers to wrap for you. Ship everything that needs to be sent this week to avoid expedited shipping fees, because they hurt.
Simplicity Tip: Order as many gifts as possible online, you’ll save time, gas, and avoid impulse buys at the mall. If you need to send your present, have the company do it for you. Many will wrap and include a gift card for a small additional fee.
Simplicity tip: Speed wrap by using gift bags. They’re faster than wrapping boxes, and are reusable. Get a bunch of solid color bags in assorted sizes. (Stick with two colors that match your tree decorations, so packages coordinate.) Embellish bags with festive wire-ribbon bows.
Party and Bake: Now that most of the work is behind you, enjoy the pre-holiday week. When people ask, “Are you ready for the holidays?” You can honestly say, “Yes.” Attend parties, food shop, bake, see the Nutcracker, attend church, enjoy the lights.
Cruise: Decompress and enjoy the downtime the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Simplicity tip: I like to use this week to clean closets and make a charity donation. It’s feels good to give to others, and you start the New Year clean and de-cluttered.
Undecorate: Take down decorations, and put the holidays away. And take your house back.
Simplicity Tip: Buy red and green plastic bins (available at Wal-Mart) and store all holiday decorations in them. Finding them in the garage or rafters will be much easier.
Simplicity Tip: Though it’s hard to even think about going through this again, make the next year go smoothly by packing things away using the LIFO method of inventory. The only thing I remembered from my accounting class, it stands for Last In First Out. In other words, put the items you put up first away last, so they are the first boxes you open when you start decorating next year.