10 Easy Holiday Planning Tips – by Sara Genrich
I dropped my daughter off at the mall on Saturday, and discovered the holiday shopping frenzy has started!! Every shopping mall and center I passed was packed with people. The decorations are out, the catalogues, offers and the party invitations are arriving daily. My calendar is filling up with school, church, family and social activities. The holidays have arrived and are already in full swing.
There are printable holiday organizers and checklists for everything from shopping to packing the car for a trip home. There are several different kinds of holiday planners on Martha Stewart’s Real Simple site. There are also many other checklists on the internet, just Google “holiday checklist” and pick the one that suits your needs. These can be great planning tools to help you remember the details. The quick tips below take the stress out of the holiday season by reducing last minute holiday challenges and by making your holiday season more enjoyable:
- Make a list like Santa – Create a list of everyone you want to give a gift to, and jot down gift ideas. Even if you have not thought of the perfect gift idea yet, include the person on your list. Make sure to keep the list with you, and updated with new gift ideas. As you are shopping you can quickly review the list to make sure no one is forgotten! I find it easy to get distracted by people, shiny things and new ideas in stores. My list keeps me on track and helps me remember. I keep my list in an app called AnyList, but paper works just fine too. (AnyList is for the iPhone only, but there are plenty of list apps out there for Android too. Take a look at Remember the Milk and Wanderlist). The key is to keep the list with you when you are out running around.
- Buy a Gift Surplus – buy a few extra gifts to give to the host/hostess of the parties you attend. Extra presents are also good to have for unexpected guests or to someone you accidentally left off the list. Save your receipts for the surplus gifts, so you can return the ones you do not need.
- Receipts – Keep all of your holiday receipts in one envelope (for paper receipts) and/or one email file (for on-line purchases). This will make them easy to locate when you are ready to wrap or return.
- Purchase On-line – Purchase anything and everything that you can on-line, and do it early. The early shoppers usually get free shipping. Avoid the store, parking and long lines by having the gifts come direct to your door or to your recipient. If you miss the free shipping deadline, use the Internet to look for availability and the best price before going shopping. If you are traveling over the holidays, you can have gifts shipped to your destination to lighten your luggage.
- Easy Decorating – Store your non-holiday decor in the same boxes and tubs that store your Christmas decorations. When the holidays are over, it will be easier to put everything back in it’s place.
- Give Back – Helping people or groups less fortunate than you can be such a blessing in many ways. When you give your time, talent or resources for someone else, you feel better and less stressed. Find a soup kitchen, a food bank, a family or a toy drive and serve or make a donation. You may not be able to end hunger or poverty, but you can make a difference to someone.
- Plan out your Commitments – Put the most important dates and activities on your calendar now. When new requests and invitations arrive, only say, “Yes” to the engagements that you can attend without feeling overwhelmed. Your child does not need to attend every party, parade and play date; and neither do you. The key here is to pick the parties and activities that make you happy.
- “Invite” Your Spouse to Shared Events – As you are adding child performances, parties and other family activities to your electronic calendar, send an invite to your spouse. Your spouse can easily add the event to his/her calendar. This will keep both of you up to date on all of your shared commitments.
- Plan Ahead – It does not matter if you are hosting a big meal, taking an appetizer to a party or baking cookies for your daughter’s school party; planning ahead makes all the difference. Buy ingredients early, plan time to prepare food items, and get help from other family members. Every 3-4 days in December, look at what is coming up in the next 5 days. Keep grocery lists up to date and add needed items to purchase as you plan your menu. If you remember in the morning you need eggs, add it to your grocery list. This will keep your brain from having to remember you need eggs until you buy them. Your brain will be less stressed, and you will be too.
- Use shopping apps to check prices and hold coupons – The Coupons App, RetailMeNot and Shopular all add store coupons and deals right to your phone. There is no need to clip, print and carry, because these apps do it for you. Apps like ShopSavvy have barcode and QC scanners to scan products right in the store. The app will then show you the prices of the same item at other stores in the area. So, you will know you are getting the best price!
In addition to these 10 quick tips, we recommend two overall practices for a stress free holiday. The first is plan ahead for everything. Plan ahead gifts, meals, parties, car repairs, shopping, wrapping, etc. For example: If your family is driving out of town for the holidays, have your oil changed now. Entertaining guests? Clean out your refrigerator and pantry a week before their arrival. Plan ahead larger tasks like decorating and wrapping. For time and energy draining tasks, I recommend the classic time management technique of breaking out the project into smaller pieces of time. It is easier to divide out the larger tasks like wrapping into smaller periods of time. Don’t try to wrap every gift at once, wrap a few each night while catching up on your favorite shows. If you need help organizing a party, your home, your calendar or your office, Configuration Connection can help. Call us at 972-365-0255 to setup your appointment today!