In theory, the holiday season is about seeing loved ones and celebrating new and old traditions. But it doesn’t always feel that way. Too often, the holidays stress us out! Back-to-back events and changes to our normal routine understandably shake us up a bit. Additionally, there’s an unspoken pressure to look like we’re having a holly jolly time when sometimes we just want to pass on the eggnog, thank you, and curl up on the couch.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, in many cases we do want to have be festive; we just need to find the time and energy.
With the following tips for staying organized during the holidays, you can take care of all of those extra holiday responsibilities (runs to the post office! after-work office party!) while still getting to focus on the most important part of the season—your loved ones and your cherished traditions.
Of course, you can also apply these tips to any busy month that you foresee coming your way. After planning a wedding, I know the power of a well thought-out, long-range calendar!
Write down everything you need to do. This includes events that cannot be skipped, like Aunt Chloe’s sweater party (she would be crushed!), and general holiday responsibilities: picking out and wrapping gifts, travel, cooking or procuring food for guests, etc. I suggest breaking down these tasks as much as possible. For example, if you need to send gifts to faraway relatives, this involves a series of tasks: purchasing gifts, wrapping and packaging gifts, and then taking them to the post office.
Write down everything you want to do. This is your holiday activity wish list. Want to bake cookies and watch Its a Wonderful Life? Write it down. Want to use time off from work to deep clean the curtains? Write it down.
Prioritize these needs and wants and schedule them. If you schedule when you’re going to do these actives—and honor that schedule—you’ll be more likely to get everything done without feeling frazzled. If your schedule is getting too packed, ask yourself, are these “needs” really necessary? Do I really have to attend my friend’s cousin’s son’s 4th-grade holiday pageant?
Plan downtime. When you’re drawing up your schedule for the next few months, be sure to leave some blank space. If your holiday season looks like it’s going to be packed as it is, there no need to find a way to fill up every space. You’ll want time to relax and do whatever strikes you at the given moment
If you’re traveling, or if people are traveling to see you (lucky you!), create a master doc of travel methods and itineraries. Keep it somewhere handy—like a printout on your fridge or saved to the cloud so you can access it on your phone. It may also be helpful to distribute this master doc with all parties involved. Make sure everyone is on board with who’s picking up who at what time.
Make tedious “chores” fun. I like the idea of gift wrapping, but my skills are seriously lacking, and by the end of it, I never want to look at Scotch tape again. But it always helps if I make an event out of it. Last year, I drank a latte and listened to my favorite podcast, and I now recall that gift-wrapping session with fondness. (As far as gift wrapping is concerned, make the task easier and more environmentally friendly by using reusable cloth bags—a win-win!)
Let go. There will be times when you can’t accomplish absolutely everything on your lists—or perhaps your apple pie was missing some elusive ingredient. It’s okay. Recenter yourself with some deep breathing or gentle yoga and remember what’s most important about the season for you. Let go of intense expectations, and find something enjoyable in the moment you’re currently in.
What are your tips for staying organized (and sane) during the busy holiday season?
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