Did you read my blog post Preparing for Christmas – 10 Things to Do Now? It’s been over two months since I wrote it and if you didn’t start getting ready back then, it’s time for some regrouping right now. No seriously – I know you’re busy but you need to take an hour, assess where you stand at this moment, and create an updated plan of attack. You CAN get organized for Christmas, even with less than a month to go!
1. Begin by taking a hard look at your list.
What can you give up? What can you delegate to someone else? Remember that the focus should be on enjoying time with family and friends, not running yourself ragged. Pick the must have activities and ditch the rest.
2. Is your calendar up to date?
If not, that needs to happen immediately. You really can’t make any other plans until you know what has already been scheduled. Remember to include any holiday parties you’ve been invited to, kids’ events at school and in their extracurricular groups, family fun events that you’d like to take in, and be sure to block off some breathing room for yourself!
3. Have you taken care of your Christmas cards yet?
If not, I’m going to suggest some other alternatives instead. Yes, there is still time to get them done and sent out if you take care of it RIGHT NOW (as in, stop reading this post and work on your Christmas cards instead – I’ll wait for you right here) but if you can’t possibly drop everything to take care of them, then just cross this one off your list. Can’t give it up entirely? Replace it with email cards or plan to send out Happy New Year cards instead.
4. Have you started your holiday baking?
Look over your list and see if you can whittle it down to just a few items and plan to supplement with store bought. Or go to an amazing local bakery and order all of the baked goods you need. It’s ok to let someone else take care of things sometimes! Still determined to make everything on your list? Then block out a day on your calendar this very second and treat it like an appointment that you can’t miss – really, if it’s important enough to you to carry on this tradition, then treat it that way.
5. Set up a gift wrapping station.
We always like for ours to be portable so we use a big laundry basket and fill it with markers, gift tags, wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, scissors, tape – anything else we might need all in one spot. Each person can simply grab the basket and head off to a quiet spot to get their wrapping done. Do you find gift wrapping to be a chore? Invite a friend over to wrap gifts together while enjoying some eggnog and holiday music. As I wrap the gifts, I like to make a list of what I have there and who it’s for. This helps me avoid the last minute “Oh I don’t think I got enough gifts for that person” panic. I also write next to each item what kind of batteries (and how many) they need if any and I jot down where I’m putting those gifts. There was always at least one lost gift every Christmas for as long as I can remember and this is a great way of avoiding that too!
6. Take stock.
Do you have enough dishes for your holiday guests? One year I had to run out to the dollar store at the last minute to pick up wine glasses so I’d have enough for everyone I had invited to Christmas dinner. What about your decorations? Do you need new Christmas lights (especially given that so many have been recalled this year!) or maybe a few replacement bulbs? How about fresh candles for your Advent wreath?
7. Head to the grocery store, liquor store (if you will be serving alcohol this season), dollar store, and the pharmacy.
Update your lists and go as soon as possible to take care of purchasing the items you will need for holiday entertaining and family meals. It’s always frustrating to wait until the last minute and have to deal with bigger crowds and all too often, sold out items. Why did I suggest the pharmacy? It’s a good idea to make sure you have plenty of things like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, antacid, and other over the counter medications on hand for yourself and guests during this season of over-indulgence. You might want to add the dollar store to your plans as well – this is often a good place to find inexpensive batteries, gift bags (I find their wrap to be thin and it tears much too easily), tape, and disposable plates, utensils, and tablecloths (I know, I know – I’d rather use the real deal too but sometimes, disposables can save our sanity during the hectic holidays). If you need a new memory card for your camera, remember to get that picked up now as well and I always suggest getting a gift card or two to have on hand as last minute gifts.
8. Take another hard look at your list.
Yes again. We’re too hard and expect too much of ourselves. You can still have a lovely and meaningful Christmas without baking 14 kinds of cookies or decorating every square inch of your home. Personally, the more I pared down my list, the more meaningful it became because then I was focused solely on what truly was most important. And while you’re having another look at your to do list, might I suggest that you check it for ways you can give back to your community? Perhaps your annual Christmas caroling party could take place at a nursing home. Perhaps you could invite someone who is alone this holiday season to join you in an afternoon of baking. Perhaps you could take a shut-in with you as you do your shopping so they too can purchase gifts for their loved ones. Giving is the reason for the season, isn’t it?