Organize Your Holidays NOW to Beat Stress

November 10, 2009

Hey LilSis, I think it’s a really appropriate time to talk about stress since we’re all about to go into Turbo-Speed Stress Season.  We all have holiday stress for different reasons.  Many of us get so excited at the holidays that we overcommit and underestimate how much time all of these things will take.  We may have financial issues that make the holidays stressful.  Some people are sad at the holidays and dread going through it, and feeling like they have to do things they really aren’t up for.  Other people have family issues that can’t be avoided at get-togethers.  Many us of just feel pulled in too many directions at one time.

For whatever reason, we’re ALL going to have stress to some degree over the next couple of months.  Maybe we can all help each other out by sharing some ways to tame stress since it’s such a universal experience!  I’ll start us off.

  • My favorite way to manage holiday stress is to plan and start early!  I already mentioned that I’m doing another Christmas bake sale for the SPCA on December 14th.  How can I commit three full weekends to baking, just before Christmas?  It helps that I’m kuku/kookoo (how do you spell that?), but I actually started planning a week ago.  The baking team has already had a meeting, and we all know pretty much what we’re baking, except for a couple of new recipes that I’m going to test-drive this week.  I’m going to have all my Christmas shopping done before baking time starts, as well as all the bake sale shopping, and packaging for the bake sale goodies will be ordered this week.

How does my bit of planning translate to organizing your holiday season?

  • Even though it seems way too early to start thinking about the holidays, do it now!  How often do you hear yourself say that the holidays just “snuck up on you”?  There’s no sneaking!  Christmas comes at the same time year after year!  We just haven’t planned for it!
  • First of all, have a brainstorming session with yourself. Find half an hour of quiet time, and just make a rambling list of everything you can think of that you need to do between now and New Year’s Day.  As more and more things come to mind later, add them to your list.  Just getting thoughts out of your brain and onto paper will give you a serious chunk of peace of mind.  Sign me up for some of that!
  • Now go back over the Master List you brainstormed, and start making Detailed Lists.  If you included “buy gifts” on your Master List, then make a Gift Idea List.  List everyone you want to buy for, and then start listing any gift ideas you have.  You can see where the holes are.  If you have no ideas at all for Uncle Paul, then make yourself a note to call Aunt Paula to find out what Uncle Paul wants.  If your list includes “send Christmas cards”, then start a separate list of the recipients, and check to see if you’re missing any addresses.  Look for those addresses now, and not on December 22nd!  You’ll also know how many cards to buy when you’re in the store, and won’t have to run back out for more at the last minute.
  • Make yourself a notebook, folder or binder with all of your lists and keep it with you!  If you work outside your home, take it with you in a tote.  It doesn’t do any good to have a plan if you don’t have it available to refer to when you need to.
  • Now that your lists are in the works, next get yourself a calendar going.  You might like a big wipe-off calendar that can be displayed in the kitchen for everyone to see, or maybe a calendar in your planner or on your phone works bet for you.  Whatever it is, start adding every party, every cookie exchange, every school function and every travel itinerary on it as you find out about them.  Grill your family for all of their commitments.  Update this calendar immediately as new functions are discovered.  Threaten your family that failure to notify you of a commitment means they have to eat the fruitcake that’s been regifted since 1974.  Or you could say that Santa will bring them a lump of coal, but that would be pretty mean.  😀
  • Practice saying “no”.  The reality is, you won’t be able to do everything that is asked of you for the next couple of months.  It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  You can say “no” to good things in order to say “yes” to the best things!

That’s how I get my holiday season organized, and it really seems to help me to just write things down!  It’s a simple thing but it has a huge impact. You won’t wake up in the middle of the night worrying about whether you’re going to forget to bake the two dozen cupcakes for the school if you’ve already put that on the calendar.

If you have other ideas, please pass them on.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be on a mission to find other thoughts and tips that we think might help us all enjoy this glorious season even more!

~BigSis

12 Comments so far

  1. Posted by LilSis

    November 10, 20097:32 pm

    Those are some great ideas! I’m a list maker, too, but my problem is usually just not getting started early enough. I’m going to try harder this year to get the gifts bought early that need to be shipped to avoid the outrageous shipping costs.

    One of the best items I’ve ever bought was a small binder from Hallmark four years ago called My Holiday Plans.

    It has five tabs; one for Calendar, Notes, Card List, Shopping List, and Gifts Received. I’ve used it every year and it has been a life saver when it comes to having all the addresses in one place for the cards and even records of previous years gift buying.

    This would be very easy to put together in a multi-subject spiral with dividers. :-)

    I also always keep a separate envelope in my purse for my receipts so nothing gets lost.

  2. Posted by BigSis

    November 11, 20098:01 am

    Thanks for the input, LilSis. Those are all great tips!

  3. Posted by Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer

    November 11, 20092:31 pm

    Great ideas!! I am almost embarrassed to tell you what I do.. Oh well here goes! I actually make a list right after Christmas for next year because my very dear friend and I hit the after Christmas sales and have for the last 15 years together. I get great deals and I stash the gifts in a special place in the house until the next year. I can say my shopping is so much easier because well it is about 80% done before the season starts. Gives me much more time to play and bake and enjoy the holidays!
    .-= Cathy – wheresmydamnanswer´s last blog post … Wake Up Washington – Way to Support the Troops (NOT) =-.

  4. Posted by BigSis

    November 11, 20095:59 pm

    Hey Cathy! I think that’s a brilliant plan! I’m afraid I’d buy stuff and then not be able to find it the next year!

  5. Posted by dubiousMa

    November 11, 20099:41 pm

    I soooooo needed this little kick in the Christmas booty! Now, how to actually take get off the damn computer so I can make a list or two!
    .-= dubiousMa´s last blog post … Have a Man…..or Not Have a Man….Is There Actually a Question Here? =-.

  6. Posted by BigSis

    November 12, 20096:21 pm

    Hey DubiousMa! I’m happy we could provide a little booty-kick! Good luck with your planning!

  7. Posted by noble pig

    November 12, 200912:59 pm

    My girlfriends and I just had a whole Thanksgiving planning meeting, it was sooo worth it.
    .-= noble pig´s last blog post … Hosting Thanksgiving =-.

  8. Posted by BigSis

    November 12, 20096:20 pm

    Great idea, Noble Pig. I like it. You eliminate all that calling back and forth…what are you making, this is what I’m making, oh that’s what I was going to bring.

  9. Posted by LilSis

    November 12, 20092:59 pm

    Hi Cathy,
    Now, that’s pretty amazing to me! I’m so shopped out after Christmas that I don’t even go for the 50% off Christmas decorations. When it comes time to buy wrapping paper, I always wish that I had bought it on sale.

    Thanks for passing that on to us. Maybe one year, I’ll get myself in gear for the after Christmas sales! That’s a great way to have more fun and less stress! :-)

  10. Posted by BigSis

    November 12, 20096:23 pm

    My only problem is that by the time the after-Christmas sales start, I’m SO done with wrapping paper and bows and tags and gift bags, and don’t really want to think about them for another year! I need to work on that little hang-up.

  11. Posted by stress management

    November 18, 200912:52 am

    Getting away on a busy holiday weekend doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By planning ahead and making all the right moves, your vacation should go as smoothly as ever.

  12. Posted by BigSis

    November 18, 20097:14 pm

    Planning makes everything better…not that there isn’t room for spontaneity!

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