Get A Jump Start on Holiday Organizing
Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza are over (sigh) and things are
getting back to normal. How on earth did we get through another
holiday season? As I catch up on visits with friends, I hear a
common thread in the conversations: we had a nice Christmas
vacation; we didn't go anywhere. My goodness! I thought being
with family was what the holiday season was all about. Or is it?
Time management and family counselors tell us that Christmas is a
season, not merely a day. So slow down, time your visits, and
perhaps spread them out over a few days. For instance, my
husband's family celebrates Christmas each year as a family
reunion. They rent a hall (no one has fifty grandchildren running
through the formal living room), decorations are donated,
refreshments are provided "pot luck" style, and the burden of
entertaining is not placed on just one person.
Another way to avoid the holiday blues is to set a gift budget. I
won't go in-depth to teach you Accounting 101, but I do have some
ideas of how to set a spending limit, shop year round, or make your
own gifts. These are all great ways to keep from feeling so depress
when that credit card bill arrives in January.
Below are a few tips I've listed to give you a jumpstart on the
holidays NEXT season........
* My biggest time saver is ordering holiday cards the first week of
October from a mail order catalog, then addressing them the week of
Halloween. By November, you're ready for gift buying and have a
major chore crossed off your "to do" list.
* Buy holiday cards after Christmas when they are on sale, then
stash them away for next year. I suggest you don't pack them away
with other holiday decorations - you may forget about them, and you
won't have easy access for advance processing.
* Create a permanent record of sent and received holiday cards to
avoid making one each year. This is especially important if you buy
cards in advance. Make a list and file it in your file cabinet, on
your computer, or in a dedicated Christmas Card Record booklet.
(These can be found at stationery stores and bookstores, and from
mail order catalogs.) This allows you to take an inventory of cards
for the next year, according to your revised list.
* Send Postcards instead of holiday cards. - it takes much less
time to write a message, and requires less postage
* Only send cards to out of town friends and family.
* Send virtual cards electronically. Of course, this only works for
those friends and family members "on line", but it saves a lot of
money and you can send more cards than you normally would.
* Order postage stamps through the mail to avoid standing in a long
line at the post office. (I do this year-round, and it saves me
from hauling my son in and out of the car just to go into the post
office for stamps!)
* Don't send cards at all (this practice is becoming more popular
* Shop year round. This not only budgets your time, but
pocketbook as well. Make a mental note whenever a friend or loved
one mentions something he or she would like to have. Pay attention
during other gift-giving occasions, such as birthdays and
anniversaries, and write their "wish list" notes down later. Not
only will you save money allowing for a few gifts each month, but
also you will give the recipient a gift they will enjoy for quite
* If you elect not to shop year round, choose less hectic times
to do your shopping. Early mornings on the weekends, just as stores
open, are ideal. You practically have the entire store to
yourself. Another option is to shop during the week, rather than
on weekends. You'll find easier parking, shorter checkout lines,
and more thinking time on your hands by using this tip.
* Shop online or from catalogs. You pay for shipping costs, but
will save money and time. Sometimes you won't have to pay sales
tax, and that justifies the shipping charge.
* Opt not to give gifts at all, except to immediate family.
There are so many variations on this theme, so it's a good idea to
have a "family meeting" to discuss your options. Often you're not
the only one feeling a monetary crunch, and often it's a relief to
others as well.
Getting the House Ready for the Holidays:
* Stock your freezer and pantry during the month so you will
have fewer trips to the grocery and fewer meals to prepare. This
might be a good time to cash in those pizza coupons!
* Feel free to screen your phone calls, then plan a time when
you can return calls. Wrapping gifts or stuffing cards into
envelopes is a good multi-tasking chore to do while you're on the
* Plan your parties and holiday meals well in advance. I'm a
firm believer that you can never have too many lists. Being a mom
means multi-tasking, and we're getting better every day at it, but
we're only human. If it's not on the list, it probably won't
* Muster the troops, and decorate the house and trim the tree
using all the help you can get. Have a "tree trimming" party.
Invite friends or family members over, put on the Christmas music
to set the mood, serve refreshments or order in. It's much less of
a chose when everyone pitches in to help. After the holidays, you
can do the same thing. No one really likes to "undecorate", but if
you make a party of it, to celebrate the New Year perhaps, time
goes much quicker.
* Lower your expectations: Don't feel you have to be ready for
House and Garden Magazine to photograph your holiday dinner.
Potlucks and no frill meals are wonderful, as most veteran moms
will agree. New moms are so overwhelmed with schedules and their
new job as a mother - the last thing anyone expects is a Martha
* Let people help you. This was a hard lesson for me to learn,
but as my son turns three, I'm a firm believer in this advice.
During the holidays, those you love surround you and they are there
to help when you need it. If you need help with meals, ask them to
make their specialty. If you're a terrible cook, this can be a
blessing. If you don't want anyone underfoot in the kitchen, let
him or her baby-sit. Believe me, this is the biggest help you can
get as your children grow.
|by Gail Morrissey
Source: Vibrant Life Magazine Nov-Dec 2002.