How to: Prepare for Christmas

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Holidays can stress us out so much that we sometimes lose sight about what they are really about–blessings, joy, cheer and spending time with family and friends. However, there’s just so much that needs to get done that it’s easy to come close to crashing and burning.

Don’t burn out–relax and enjoy the season. I’ve put together a few time-savers that might enable you to have a little more time to do just that.

Shopping

Every year you tell yourself the same thing–that you’ll start shopping months ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute again. While this is a great idea in theory, a lot of times it just isn’t that practical.

However, there are some time savers and organizational tips you can employ which will allow you more time to relax instead of scrambling!

  • Organize and prioritize–Start of by making your list. If you already know the exact item that the person wants, then mark those with a star or stick those at the top of the list. For those folks that you aren’t sure about, just jot a few ideas down to start with. Take a look at your list now and start figuring out how to group these gifts. Are there several gifts you can purchase at the same place? Are there obscure items which you may need to order way ahead of time? For the unknowns, can you get them a dressed-up gift card? Group everything together to plan your route accordingly, and then try and do all of your shopping at one time. More time to relax!
  • Shop online–Most of us love the convenience of shopping online. To be able to sit on your couch in your pajamas and do your holiday shopping is pretty great. But, the shipping costs aren’t so great. However, did you know that many retailers offer special shipping offers? This site outlines a few stores offering sweet shipping deals this year.
  • Gift Cards–Sending a gift card is always a safe bet and an easy way out. But, they tend not to be very personal. To give gift cards a personalized and more festive touch, attach them to a small gift or package.  Or, give a tin of homemade baked goods with the gift card attached.

christmas-gifts

Sending Holiday Cards

Every year it’s the same–hunting around for names and addresses you need in order to send your holiday cards. Some might be scribbled on scrap paper, some might be in various old address books, some might be contacts in your email contact list.

This year, why not take a few minutes organizing all of your contacts online. This will save you time and keep you organized every year! You can even purchase stickers/address labels and print them out. What a time-saver!

Wrapping Presents

You might dread it, but wrapping can be fun! You can get creative with containers, paper, bags and more. And, if you know where to shop it can be fairly inexpensive!

  • Dollar store savings–Did you know you can pick up extremely inexpensive wrapping supplies at the dollar store? From ribbon to paper to gift bags, you can save a ton of money here! Stock up on all your supplies here.
  • Home-made paper–Making your own personalized wrapping paper is a piece of cake. Use brown packaging paper and personalize with paint, holiday stamps, glitter–whatever floats your boat! Decorate with a pretty ribbon and you’re good to go.
  • Re-use and recycle–Even though you may have always scoffed at your mom when she asked to save wrapping paper and bows every year, we could take a lesson from that. Save money next year by re-using paper and bows. Ribbon and bows especially lend themselves perfectly to recycling!

Hosting Holiday Parties

If you’re hosting a holiday party, regardless of whether it’s a dinner or cocktail party, you might be stressed about making sure you are prepared and everything goes smoothly. Use some of the ideas to cut down on the preparation time.

  • Preparations–Order and make as many preparations as you can before time so you aren’t running around too much as the date draws closer. Purchase beer, wine and spirits far in advance so you’re ready for the party. Plan your outfit ahead of time so you aren’t rummaging around in your closet for a suitable outfit the evening of the party.
  • Food–Along the same lines, so as much as you can ahead of time. If you’re cooking yourself, take advantage of any advance preparation you can. A great way to cut down on cooking time is to utilize recipes which integrate ready-made ingredients.
  • Decorating–Stay with the advance preparation theme here. Decorate as much as you can ahead of time, then order in holiday centerpieces and holiday flower arrangements. They’ll arrive straight to your door and will really add festive touches throughout your home.  Mix it up by placing smaller flower arrangements throughout your home in guest rooms and foyers and more elaborate centerpieces on dining room tables and coffee tables.

christmas-tree

Relax!

Most importantly, be sure to relax and enjoy the season. Instead of anxiously scrambling, take your time and cherish holiday tasks like decorating, wrapping, sending cards and more. Don’ t think of them as a chore–see them as shining points of the season! Sit down with a holiday beverage like hot cocoa, eggnog or cider and have fun!

Happy Holidays!

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