In our last blog we shared some holiday organization tips collected and compiled from a variety of home organization experts. They’re designed to help you manage all of the tasks that come with preparing for the holidays and, ultimately, to actually be able to enjoy what is supposed to be a fun, memorable and relaxing time.
* Plan your Christmas meal in advance. Make a list (either hand-written or digital) of everything you plan to serve and then break it all down into an ingredient list. Spread out the purchase of those ingredients over the weeks leading up to Christmas, especially non-perishable ingredients that can be stored easily until you need them. This way you won’t be hit with one giant grocery bill the third week in December. It also ensures that you won’t be stuck changing your menu at the last minute (like while you’re in the canned dairy aisle at the grocery store) because you waited too long and now a key ingredient can’t be found.
* Prepare the guest room ahead of time. Are you having relatives come and visit? Start getting the guest room ready now. Just as we talked about spreading out the grocery shopping, you can spread this job out too, especially if you happen to have a spare room in your home that is set aside just for company. Wash the bedding, vacuum the rug, clean out the closet… whatever you have to do to prep, do a little bit each week for two or three weeks so you don’t have to scramble the day before your guests arrive.
Even if you don’t have a spare room and you plan to put your guests up on a fold-out couch, you can still prepare ahead of time. Make sure bedding is washed, folded and tucked away in an accessible location. Make space in a closet for your guests’ luggage and personal items. (This might require some extra time organizing your closets and shifting things from one closet to another, even if just temporarily.)
* Have a conversation about gift-giving. Everyone is different when it comes to gift-giving. Many couples and families have different ideas when it comes to the bestowing of presents, so it helps to talk about that ahead of time. Are children expected to give gifts to each other? Do you need to set a spending limit in your extended family so that those on tighter budgets don’t feel awkward during the gift-opening? Do you prefer that your family gives out hand-made gifts instead of buying something? These are the kinds of things that should be discussed before the gift-buying (or gift-making) begins.
* Enlist family members to help with holiday tasks. There are lots of good reasons to involve the whole family (not the least of which is so that you don’t have to do it all yourself.) Holidays are all about family traditions, so why not make one out of putting up the decorations? Break out the spiced apple cider and hot chocolate and deck those halls together. It gets the job done and makes for some great family holiday memories, too.
Let’s face it, you’re probably never going to eliminate all of the stress that comes with the holidays, and some things just can’t be predicted and planned for. But if you maintain control over the things that you can, the last-minute surprises will be easier to manage. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to sleep in (a little bit) on Christmas morning.