I am a self-professed Christmas Queen. I love everything about the holiday and seriously start planning for the season at the beginning of November. I understand not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Instead of getting excited, people tend to stress out over everything that needs to be done (shopping, baking, cards, wrapping, entertaining, cooking, decorating, etc, etc.) and end up not having any fun.
Follow my steps to a happier, less stressed holiday season.
1. Set your priorities
- This is the most important step. Early in November write down what you need or want to accomplish and (more importantly) the things you know you don’t have time or energy or even want to do.
- No one said you have to do it alone. Enlist the family to help or invite friends for a tree trimming party. Even the littlest kids can help. I loved the years when half of our ornaments were on the lowest branches.
- Answer this question: If I don’t have time to do all my usual decorating, what can I forget about this year? Maybe it’s the outside lights or the 50 piece village set. Maybe this is the year to do a minimalist tree. White lights and a single color ornament. Less work and you will have a hip and trendy tree.
- Write out your list early. (See the trend here? Earlier = less stress!) Plan your shopping so you make fewer trips and use your time wisely. Make one trip to the mall, one trip to the electronic store, etc.
- Shop throughout the year for generic gifts. When you get invited to a party, you’ll have a hostess gift on hand.
- Set up a wrapping station. Gather paper, tape, ribbons, gift tags all in one place, closet or room. That way you can wrap as you bring presents home.
- Take turns with family or friends hosting the annual party.
- If it is your turn:
a) Set the date early.
b) Make out your guest list.
c) Plan the menu. Have guests bring food or order ready-made appetizers from the deli. I make the same hors d’oeuvres every year (no one remembers). I just look at my list from last year and know what and how much to make and buy.
d) Invitations should go out 3 weeks in advance, so guests can get the date on their calendars.
- Cookie exchanges are the way to go. You only have to make one kind and get a variety in return.
- Sending Christmas cards is a tradition that fewer and fewer people participate in. It’s costly and time consuming. This is a an easy thing to eliminate.
- I don’t bake cookies, but I do make my own Christmas cards. Because I have a big party, my card becomes my invitation. I’m finished by early November and can cross it off my list.
6. Time for family and friends
- After an evening of power shopping, meet friends for a late supper or drink to catch up.
- Take the family to a holiday play or concert.
- Add a new tradition or bring back an old one. Cut down your Christmas tree, go caroling, take a drive to see the neighbor’s light display (easier than doing your own), gather the family for Christmas movie night.
- Charity. So many agencies are in need of money and time. Volunteer or make donations to favorite organizations. It’s amazing how stress melts away when you are helping someone else.
Enjoy Thanksgiving and remember to live in the moment.