I love the holidays, because I entertain more often, see friends and family that I don’t usual see throughout the year, and I get energized by finding gifts for those I love. With that said, the season seems to start earlier each year, bringing stress and overwhelm and my tendency towards perfectionism rears its ugly head.
My new mantra – Reduce Holiday Stress!
I decided that this year, I’d make a plan to reduce the holiday stress that comes when I over commit myself and underestimate how much time I really have to get things done. I’ve enlisted a few of my professional organizer friends and asked them to share some of their best holiday organizing tips. We’ve complied 10 tips to help reduce your holiday stress.
Create a shared calendar of events for the entire family to use to synchronize schedules. Even if you don’t typically share a calendar, the holidays are a great time to start. This calendar could be created online using tools such as a shared Google Calendar, Cozie Calendar, removable magic whiteboard, or even a family notebook full of loose leaf paper. Schedule everything including gift wrap time.
We have way too many decorations causing a storage nightmare. This year, as I bring out my decorations, I will sort out items that we don’t use. If I haven’t used them in the last 2 years, I’m probably not going to. I suggest that we all go through our decorations and sort out any that are broken (unfixable) or that can be given to someone else to enjoy. If you tend to drag out the decorating process, throw a ‘Decorate Day Party’ and invite family and friends to join in the fun. This will give you another chance to entertain and will help ensure that you have time to actually enjoy your once a year decor.
A holiday journal is a great place to keep notes about all of your planning, new recipes, ideas about gift-giving, holiday card lists, and more. Everything you need to start each holiday season can be gathered in one handy little book. Your holiday journal will be the first thing you bring out next year, before the first decoration comes out of the box!
With Christmas decorations already creating extra items around our house, take at least 15 minutes a day to go around and pick up any added clutter that accumulates. Many of us will also see an increase in paper mail. To quickly reduce any paper clutter, immediately go through your mail every day separating bills to be paid from junk mail. Store those important bills in a pile on your desk, within an organizer in your kitchen, or in your command center filing system.
Save money and simplify your gift wrapping by skipping the multiple rolls of occasion-specific graphic wrapping paper & go for solids like blue, silver, gold, red, green, or white. Then spruce up the packaging with patterned ribbon, bows, stickers, or other small decorations full of character & holiday cheer. This method creates beautiful, fun, and elegant presents, while saving you space & money on materials. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!
Put all your decorations in holiday colored storage boxes so that when you go to the attic/basement you know exactly which ones are for “Christmas”. If you decorate in the same manner each year, take a photo of the different “areas” to simplify the decorating process the next year!
Plan now for the new year. Set up a “2016 Taxes” file (or box) NOW, near where you sort your mail. This is important paperwork that you don’t want to lose amongst all of the other holiday mail. When tax statements start arriving in early 2017, you will be ready for them rather than being caught off guard.
Keep a list on your phone throughout the year with the names of everyone you give gifts to at the holidays (such as family members, friends, or kids’ teachers). As an idea strikes you or when someone mentions a need, add it to your gifting list so you know exactly what you are gifting when the holidays roll around.
To reduce stress during a busy holiday season, simplify gift giving and the wrapping process. I suggest finding one unique, useful, or special gift and buy it for everyone. This saves a lot of time, anxiety, and money. I like to find my “gift of the year” during the spring or summer and then tailor it for each person on my list. To take it a step further, simplify the wrapping process by using white tulle ribbon to wrap everything. It makes a great presentation and can be used year round, not just at holiday time.
Ideas for gifts: Consider pairing a small, square screen cleaner that attaches to electronic devices with a gift card, or giving a wooden foot roller along with a personalized aromatherapy oil. Another of my favorites is to hide a gift card inside of a plastic puzzle maze that has to be solved, or give gift cards / cash with their favorite candy bar or baked treat. These gifts are well received tradition in my family and everyone jokes at Thanksgiving about that the gift of the year will be.