I rarely get all I want done during the holiday season. But I’m pretty grateful for the few things we do. Now that my twins are becoming tweens, I am more grateful for the time and more aware that it’s fleeting. Holiday planning has become more important, but I really don’t have the time.
Have a Core Planner
A good planner can put all you need to do (and actually want to do) in perspective. In the past, I’ve made lists and cross-referenced, always losing one list at some point (usually the baking ideas, which is why fudge and chocolate chip cookies are always in the tins we send out rather than the fancy candies I had hoped to make!). I also end up throwing out the lists at the end of the year, but wish I’d kept them to refer to the next year.
The planner should have space to create a budget, consider gift ideas for family, friends, service people, employers, etc. Make a list of all the things you wish to make and bake (and be able to let go if you are an over-planner such as myself). The every day stuff can get lost, so I’ve created a planner with daily to dos and weekly meal planning to make those busy days easier and more organized. Make a detailed list of inventory supplies on hand and what you need to buy so you can stay on budget and also use all that stuff you’ve been hauling around or storing in the garage.
Every year, I plot out how much time it will take to create the dishes and crafts that will mean the most for each family member. Then I figure out how long those treats will last in a box by mail and the time I will need to place them all neatly and nicely packed to send or give in person. A good planner will also become a keepsake. Write down moments, thoughts, and what you absolutely loved about the holiday this year. Use the gift list as a reminder for next year so mom doesn’t get yet another picture frame or pink sweater (ahem).
Make a Budget
I shop early and have most of my holiday shopping done by early November. Then the sales hit. I start snapping up toys, pajamas, holiday décor and more. Then I wonder how I went so far over budget $5 at a time! I also get in the giving mood and end up overextending and reaching further into my pocket to assist charities we help out all year.
To keep on budget and have a regret-free January, break down a budget into gifts you NEED (a closet full of hostess gifts or kids’ presents is always worth a good sale), décor that you need for this year or next, entertainment, meals, charities and
List Those Gifts
Write down all you have bought and plan to give to people and what you still need to purchase, hopefully in a great sale! If you wrap gifts early, put a description of the package next to the gift item on your list so you don’t forget and wind up with Christmas morning surprises. Put a budget on the person or category before you end up with a list a little heavy on the kids and forget the hubby (just sayin’).
Bucket Lists for Easy Living
So I make bucket lists. Love these. But a bucket list, with kids and holiday family restrictions (you know what I mean) is hard to check off, much less get to in any real way.
A good bucket list (with room to remove what doesn’t work) lets you focus on what you love, get to all those events and activities you plan to attend each year, and (let’s be honest) rush to get to at the last minute. It only takes a few minutes to carve out time for what’s important, to finish those crafts, find everything you need to finish those crafts, wrap those presents, bake those seasonal and traditional treats, decorate, and be prepared for the new year. Try not to overload the list. Have a separate list for those things that occur to you this holiday season to do next holiday season. Plot out all of the events you have to go to. Then fill in the events you really want to attend this year.
Mom Tip: You can’t do everything and no one is going to notice what you didn’t get done.
Dig Out the Decor
It may seem easy, but having a plan for decorating makes it easier to use what you have, know what you have and not wind up realizing grandpa’s handmade ornaments were left off the tree. Again. This also helps you realize what you are missing (it’s lightbulbs, every time) and what you need to buy to round out your décor.
Is that garland going to make it another year or should you grab some up at clearance for next year? Having a décor plan also makes it easier for others to help and not have to stop every five minutes to answer questions from littles and loved ones who want to know where the oversized pinecones go (the same place they do every year, but I digress).
Crafts are a great way to get in the spirit, keep kids entertained and also spend quality time together.