No Stress Holidays
By Theresa Frasch
The holidays are coming soon. Plan ahead now, and you'll have plenty of time to spend with your family doing the things you want to do.It is very easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out with everything that needs to be done throughout the holiday season. Wouldn't it be great to have system that would help you get your holiday season organized? Wouldn't it be even better if it was easy to use?
All you need is a five section divided notebook (or use pages from your personal organizer) and your family. Title each of the dividers as follows: Holiday Schedule, Gifts, Meals, Parties, and Extras. Start with a family meeting. Family meetings are perfect for organizing things from chore schedules to parties. It's also the perfect time for everyone to keep in touch with each other. Schedule one or two per holiday season. Make each planning session call-free by letting the answering machine field calls.
Planning early will give everyone something fun to look forward to, but don't overbook your schedule. Pick the things you enjoy doing the most, and focus on them. This way, you'll have plenty of additional time for yourself and your family. At your family meeting fill in as much of the notebook as you can as a group. You may find it helpful to schedule another meeting in a week or so to make sure you didn't miss anything and to fill in the dates of activities. You can add to your notes throughout the week as well.
In the Holiday Schedule section of your notebook, paste in a calendar page for the month of December. This section will be the center of all holiday activities. That is why it is so important to have a family meeting, making sure everybody gets to do and participate in what he/she likes best. On this page keep track of all holiday events and parties, including school programs, concerts, and work parties. Remember to include your favorite television specials and family traditions such as viewing the Live Nativity or the Christmas Light Tour. Don't forget getting the Christmas tree and decorating the house. In the same section of your notebook number the pages from 1 to 31 and use these pages as your daily calendar. As the month progresses you will appreciate the open spaces of the daily calendar for scheduling events and activities. Remember to schedule in shopping for gifts along with wrapping and mailing them. This would be a good spot to schedule in Christmas cards, too, writing them and getting them into the mail.
In the Gift section of your notebook write a heading across each page as needed. Kid's Wish List requires a page for each child. Copy directly from their list or paste it in. Gift Ideas should be a couple of pages devoted to jotting down gift ideas as they come up while shopping, watching TV or talking to someone. Stocking Stuffer Ideas should follow the same format as gift ideas but jotting down stocking stuffer ideas instead. The Master Gift List is the key to your budget and your sanity. On the Master gift list use a page for each person or group of people (people from work, nieces and nephews, etc.) and keep track of what you actually buy and how much you spend. This is the key to making sure you don't forget anybody, that you don't spend too much, and that your spending is balanced.
Use this section of your notebook to plan your holiday meals and to plan your baking and candy making. Title each section accordingly. Jot down the menu for your holiday dinner and make out your shopping list. Check your baking and candy recipes and make out your shopping list. If you have other special holiday items just add them here: decorative paper plates and napkins, Hickory Farms for unexpected guests, eggnog, a trip to the liquor store. Keep track of everything you need here and you won't be making second and third trips to the store for forgotten items.
This section is good whether you are planning a party, going to a party or both. Include sections on Decorations (what you will use, where they are, additional items you will need to purchase), Guest List, Food and Beverages (plan here for potluck parties you are invited to as well as the menu for your party), Preparation (what needs to be done and who is going to do it--try to divide responsibilities evenly), Invitations and Wardrobe Planner (make sure you have all the accessories as well as your main outfit for each occasion).
This section of your notebook will include the Holiday Chore List. This is a place to list all of the extras that need to be done for the holidays: extra cleaning, getting the guest room ready, putting up the outside decorations, etc. Remember to schedule time sensitive chores onto your daily calendar in section one. The family meeting is a good place to discuss these extras and to divvy them up.
The Extras section is also a good spot for your Christmas Decorations Inventory. Jot down items that you remember from last year that you need: extra lights, a bigger tree stand, new candles, etc. As you begin to decorate you can also add onto this list.
Planning your holiday season may seem like too much trouble, but the benefits of planning in advance are numerous: no double scheduling, no wasted shopping trips, no scrambling around trying to find last minute gifts, peace of mind knowing that you did everything you wanted to do most, and the joy of a no stress holiday season filled with friends, family and fun. And just think, next year you will have your holiday planner all set up and ready to go. Put this year's planner in a safe place and bring it out next holiday season for another no stress holiday.
About the Author: Theresa Frasch, Seattle; www.organized4success.com. Theresa Frasch is a "Decluttering Specialist" who combines her expertise, compassion, creativity, and sense of humor to help you help master the troublesome areas in your life so that you will have more time available for the more important and enjoyable things in your life--friends, family and yourself. Get your FREE Organized 4 Success newsletter or "How to Declutter for Good" pamphlet at www.organized4success.com
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