If you’re really organized, then perhaps you’ve already ordered Christmas cards, made cookie dough and stored it in the freezer, planned your big meals and secured a babysitter for special outings. Maybe your gift shopping is done, too. Well, good for you! For those of us that aren’t quite there—or not even close—don’t despair! These tips will help you navigate your to-do list and enjoy the spirit of the season.
Family Magazine Facebook follower Rebecca Anne Hernandez suggests, “Make a list of the most important things you want to get accomplished, and mean the most to your family. Also be realistic with time.”
She’s right! Keep your “to do” list manageable by prioritizing and removing items. It may mean making some tough choices (What? No ornament exchange this year?), but you’ll be glad you freed up extra time to spend with your loved ones. Remember: everything doesn’t have to be perfect!
If you are ordering photo or personalized cards, ask if the company will provide envelopes in advance so you can address and stamp them while you await their arrival. Better yet, utilize an online service like www.PaperCulture.com that will address, stamp and mail the cards for only the cost of the stamp! Need to give yourself a break? Consider sending Happy New Year cards instead!
Do not do everything yourself. Implement “Operation Holiday Headquarters” and delegate chores to family members. Depending on their ages, your kids can help decorate, cook, wash dishes, stamp/address envelopes, wrap presents and more.
Feeling stressed about how much you have to do? Adding something to the calendar may not be what you had in mind, but nothing will help put things into perspective more than helping those in need. Consider making community service a family tradition if you haven’t already. Visit our volunteer opportunities page for ideas.
Think outside the box (literally) by giving a gift of time or service. Sharing an experience with one of my daughters holds more value than any trinket I might give her. We’ve been known to give our kids concert or movie tickets, gift cards to a favorite restaurant (attached to a “Date with Dad/Mom” coupon) or theme park tickets.
Make a video for your older kids. Our daughter was so touched by a rap her dad and I wrote, videoed and posted on Facebook for her 21st birthday, she proudly shared it on all her social media platforms. Trust me, we’re not experts at rapping (or making videos), but all the effort we put into it was priceless to her.
Offer babysitting services to a friend, help clean a neighbor’s house or offer to go grocery shopping for a new mom.
If purchasing gifts is your best option, be sure to streamline your efforts with a list of what you need and a clear plan of action. Do as much online shopping as possible to avoid crowded parking lots and lines at the register. There are countless “free shipping” offers this time of year. Be sure to check www.freeshippingday.com for hundreds of companies that offer free shipping on Dec. 14 only and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.
One thing my husband and I started doing a few years ago is having an annual shopping date. Three to four weeks before Christmas we go out to dinner, then take our pre-written list and shop ’til we drop. It’s way more fun than frantically dividing and conquering the list.
Simplify your “who to shop for” list. If you typically purchase a present for all 17 family members, consider having the adults draw names and the kids draw names so everyone only buys one gift. If that’s too extreme, consider giving gifts to the kids only.
Really want to get together with friends? There’s no reason the burden of a party must rest solely on you. Plan a progressive brunch, lunch or dinner! Each family hosts one course of the meal (e.g., appetizers, salad, entree, dessert) and the entire group travels from house to house enjoying each course. Using your slow cooker will minimize fuss. If you have more families than courses, share responsibilities or assign families to provide drinks at each stop. This can also be done with couples if you prefer to make it a date night. We’ve enjoyed a progressive dinner with friends several times and normally have a gift exchange after eating dessert at our final destination. One year we even traveled together from house to house via motorhome!
As crazy as it sounds, be sure to shop right after Christmas for giftwrap, ribbon, decorations and tissue paper at considerable savings. You’ll be well on your way to being organized for next year.
Learn how to host a progressive brunch here.
SDFM editor Lisa Gipson loves all things Christmas and believes that a cookie exchange is efficiency at its finest.