Whether or not you celebrate the holiday season early, pre-planning for the upcoming festivities isn't a bad idea. Here are some things you can start working on to pull off a less stressful and more meaningful holiday:
Declutter and decorate
To function effectively this season, start making some space in your home. Before the holidays are in full swing, it's a good move to get rid of things you haven't used for quite some time. The extra stuff you already have can be donated to those in need. Clean out the fridge to make way for the storage of meals you can prepare ahead. After you have achieved a clutter-free home, it's time to decorate! It may be too early but having the tree, holiday wreath, Christmas melodies, and the scent of pine filling your home can create a relaxed atmosphere, letting you savor the season just a little longer (and before it gets all hectic).
Keep a budget
With all the mall sales, gift-giving, gatherings, and holiday trips, there's a possibility you might overspend. It can be quite difficult to budget during the holidays. Spare yourself from the stress that comes from financial concerns by avoiding unrealistic or unexpected expenses. Keep in mind that establishing a budget for the holidays is a great start to a New Year when it comes to handling finances.
Shopping on pre-holiday sales won’t just help you save money but beat the large crowds that gather near the end of the year. Once you have noted your holiday budget, you can start looking for presents and list ideas on what to shop for ahead. This will also help you avoid the urge to use credit cards as Christmas Day nears. It feels great knowing the gifts you picked were well-thought out, and not rushed. If you still have an issue with the budget, it can also be a good move to discuss a set amount for gift cost or agree on a new and more practical gift-giving tradition (DIY gifts).
Saving dates + mapping holiday itineraries
Apart from Thanksgiving, the Christmas season is also one of the busiest holidays around the world. This means reunions, company parties, dinners with different group of friends, and more. It’s all about knowing and expressing your priorities. Are you going on a holiday trip? Are you hosting this year’s family gathering? One way to keep the holiday stress to a minimum is to avoid over-committing and finding freedom in saying “no”. Being an adult during Christmas isn’t like enjoying the carefree days of our childhood. There are more responsibilities to juggle. Consider which traditions to keep and let go and which parties to attend, or else you might find yourself exhausted at the end of it all.
Advance your grocery-shopping
Just like shopping for presents ahead of time, you can also begin ticking off items on your must-buy list for the holiday meals and treats you traditionally serve during family meals, etc. Taking note of all categories of food you’ll need, from frozen items, non-perishable goods, packaging, etc., you’ll have less to worry and stress about during the holiday shopping rush.
No man is an island, they say. Make use of some extra hands - your partner, your kids, relatives, friends, co-worker, etc. Never be afraid to ask for a helping hand, especially weeks leading to the holiday. Despite the hustle and bustle, you might find yourself caught up in, you can savor the most joyful time of the year by helping each other and lessening the workload. Assign someone to do the grocery shopping, while you handle food preparation and let the kids set up the table. There will always be moments when you know you can’t do it alone.
Prep meals ahead
Act early when it comes to baking goods like cakes, cookies, and pies that you can simply pull out from the freezer and then serve to friends or relatives who come over for a quick, unexpected visit. Think Martha Stewart skills *wink wink*. Gifts, especially pricey ones, might feel special, but nothing is more meaningful than sharing homemade treats. As the most wonderful time of the year comes close and your menu will include meals that can be stored as early as a weeks or less, why not get on it so you can slow down a bit and indulge in the festivities during the event itself.
Do early reservations
Going on a trip or staying at a hotel or resort during the holidays? With prices going up and everyone battling for the best deals in town, consider booking or placing your reservations a month or so in advance. You’ll be able to get your favorite seat or room accommodations at your favorite hotel for less.
Be a step ahead
The holidays can be both fun and nerve-racking. No matter how prepared we may be, there’s always a chance you might slip up. Consider creating a plan A and B for everything. After working on things that need attention prior the busy days - work projects, meetings, deadlines, early shopping, etc., try to focus on small and easier jobs to help you relax. All that matters is that you have backup plans to things that might happen. You can’t miss out all the wonderful memories, the sumptuous meals, and the beauty of the season all because you’ll be sweating the small stuff.
Indulge in the festive season
Now that you’ve finished working on the pre-holiday preps, you can start to enjoy things at a slower pace and have time for yourself. The holidays are all about having fun and unforgettable memories, however, stressful interruptions and hiccups can really bring the mood down. Work around it or simply find an alternative, because nobody wants an unpleasant holiday experience, right? Sure, it’s the season of giving, but self-care and self-love are top-priority too. So do yourself a favor by not filling out your holiday calendar with too many itineraries.
When everything has been said and done give yourself a pat on the back for being able to pull off all these tasks. The holiday seasons are all about giving thanks and sharing, after all.