Don’t look now, but the holiday season is upon us! Some years, I’m so excited about the holidays and totally committed to getting into the spirit of things. Other years, the last thing I want to do is commit to a lot of short-term, seasonal decorating. Still other years, I have great expectations for the season, only to blink and realize the holidays are over and I didn’t come close to getting through my bucket list.
Whether you’ve been prepping for the holidays since July or still haven’t given much thought them yet, here are some tips to help you stay merry this season!
Open up your calendar and take a good, long, and critical look at it. Count how many days are left until the next holiday party, any travel you have coming up or guests arriving in town, the kids get out of school for winter break, or Christmas Day itself. Now think about your to-do list—not just what you actually HAVE to do, but all those little things that you say you’d LIKE to do and somehow start to feel like things you HAVE to do. Will you really be able to get it all done and stay sane (or not drive everyone around you crazy)? Probably not. With that realization in mind…
Prioritize Your To-Do (and Want-To-Do) List
Prioritizing is one of the hardest things to do in our modern times, I find. With inspiration galore just a few clicks away on Pinterest, our calendars always at the ready on our smartphones, and an app for just about anything, it seems like we should be able to do everything we want to do. But the truth is, we just can’t. A few moments spent critically appraising your to-do list and your wish list can ward off holiday stress before it even starts.
I’ve been on a big home décor crafting kick over the last several months, and the other day, I found myself staring at piles of fabric I’ve purchased to make two quilts, a mantel scarf, some stuffed Christmas trees, an embroidered banner, and a set of placemats…all for Christmas. (Not to mention the little December cottage cross-stitch design I want to finish, too.) Which seemed totally doable until I remembered that I have a husband, two school-aged children, and two cats who all depend on me for various things and actually want to see me outside of my craft room at some point this season.
In this case, I prioritized by opting not to do any more fall- or Thanksgiving-related crafting and decorating and started working on my Christmas projects right after Halloween. Normally, I shun any kind of Christmas activity before Thanksgiving Day, but we’re not going to be home for Thanksgiving this year and will be hosting family at Christmas instead, so I gave myself permission to mentally “skip” Thanksgiving to work on the couple of projects that I really want to have finished in time to enjoy at Christmas. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s so easy to get caught up the excitement of planning for Christmas that we find ourselves drowning in projects that leave us no time to enjoy our creations, or more importantly, our family!
Once you’ve prioritized your holiday goings and doings, let the rest of the family know what to expect. There will be a lot less drama if everyone’s on the same page! Whether you’ve decided to cut back on the gift-giving this year or have decided not to travel over the holidays, sharing your plans with your family will give you the confidence to go through with your decisions—freeing you to enjoy a simpler holiday season!
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
The running joke in our house is that I am the most disorganized person in the family. I’m the stay-at-home mom, so I’m supposed to be the one with the color-coded master calendar/planner that never leaves my side! Alas, my eight-year-old son is more organized than I am.
The good news is that we live in a world in which mommy bloggers with far less time on their hands than I have—but who have a passionate love for organizing that I don’t have—create these incredible, printable planners and actually share them for free on the Internet.
Avail yourself of these printable planners! There are party planning checklists, travel planning checklists, menu planners, countdown calendars, budget planners, gift lists, and just about any thing else you can think of to help you get organized for the holidays. (I’ve put some of my favorites on our Holiday Survival Pinterest board, by the way.)
Stick With What You Know
A hectic holiday season is no time to experiment. Just like I’d advise finding someone else’s printable planning sheets rather than making your own, avoid untested recipes, hairstyles, and activities this season. (You think I’m joking about the hairstyle bit, but I’ve got a holiday party picture from 12 years ago that serves as my reminder never to try a new hairdo on the day of an event.)
Make Good Use of Your Crock Pot and Freezer
We always associate the holidays with comforting, home-cooked meals, don’t we? But who says “comforting” and “home-cooked” means “prepared on the spot”? I’ve got a solid stable of slow cooker dishes and freeze-ahead casseroles that I pull from during the holidays. With so much else going on—and the shorter days to boot—being able to cut down on my actual time in the kitchen pre-dinner (or cleaning up afterwards) is a lifesaver. I am also a huge fan of breakfast casseroles on Christmas morning and New Year’s Day and any time we have company in town. I can make several at a time up to a couple of weeks in advance and keep them in my freezer. Check out the Holiday Survival Pinterest board for some of my favorite make-ahead and Crock Pot recipes!
Get Back to Basics
Whether you celebrate the holidays spiritually, secularly, or both, remember that peace, hope, and joy are at the heart of the season—regardless of which holiday(s) you observe.
So, in the midst of all your planning, prioritizing, shopping, baking, decorating, hosting, wrapping, merrymaking, and general coming and going: Make the choice to remember the reason that YOU love this season; to find that peace, hope, and joy in every day; and to spread a little bit of that unconditional holiday cheer no matter where you are or what you’re doing!
The Season of Giving
’Tis the season, and we’re ready to give, give, give! Sign up for our giveaway below to win this set of awesome products: A Waterford crystal vase, digital picture frame, standing cross and mirrored jewelry box.