The holidays should be a time of joy, a vacation from our jobs or school, a time to reflect on all the good in our lives and a relaxing time spent with friends and family. All too often though, it is a stressful time filled with rushing around, frustration and disappointment.

Rediscover the joy this holiday season by implementing these 8 easy steps.

Maintain a holiday calendar. Keep track of all your social events and make appointments with yourself for things like getting the decorations up, buying a tree, block off time to go shopping, call for hair appointments and anything else you know you’ll want to do in advance of the holidays. Scheduling all these things now will not only reduce your stress level but will ensure that you actually get it all done. If you plan your shopping in early, you’ll be more likely to get what you’re looking for.

 

Make a gift list. Write down all the people you want to buy gifts for and include what you want to get them (if you already know). Keep the list with your holiday calendar and take it everywhere you go, adding items as you see or think of them. After you buy the gift, note the gift by their name and when you’re done with a person, put a line through their name. This will give you a shopping list, help make sure no one falls through the cracks, and keep you from over shopping.

Limit the holiday cards. If you are someone who likes to send out cards, start early and just do a few each day. I like to set a limit of 5 per day. Start with the overseas and long distance friends first and do the neighbors last. It takes the stress out of an otherwise overwhelming job and even if you don’t get it all done, the people you see least will be the ones who get a card. If you saved last year’s cards, give them a read through and then turn the graphics and pictures into gift tags.

Get your decorations up early. Scratch this chore off the list and have longer to enjoy them. I recommend putting the things you normally display in the empty decorations boxes so that your surfaces are not overcrowded. When it is time to put the holiday decorations away, you can put everything back the way it was or move things around for a fresh look.Boat ornament for NBOC blog smaller

Be ready for company. If you are hosting events be sure to procure all the necessary items, i.e. chairs, linens, tables, well in advance of the date. Get the serving pieces, silverware and glassware out and make sure they are all clean and that you have enough. Give the guest bathroom a makeover by clearing the clutter from the surfaces and adding a fresh scented candle and matches.

Shop early. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. Last minute scrambling around for gifts or groceries is the number one cause of holiday insanity. Schedule time on your calendar to go gift and grocery shopping. Do not leave it up to chance. I like to stock up in November on things like paper products and dry goods, enough to last well past the New Year. You should never have to run out on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Eve because you are out of flour or toilet paper.

Include hostess gifts in your advance shopping. If you’ve got a few cheese knives or cute hand towels on standby you’ll be prepared in case someone invites you over at the last minute. Photo gifts are also a great idea to do early.

Pick out your outfits. This is also a biggie. Figure out how many events you’ll need to dress up for and make sure you have everything you’ll need to complete the outfit. Did you put runs in your only pair of black lace stockings last year? There is nothing worse than going to the closet to get dressed only to find the item you wanted to wear no longer fits or has a wine stain you hadn’t noticed. Be prepared so you can get to the event on time and in a calm state.

gift-wrapped-box-in-red-and-goldWrap it up. Once you’ve bought a gift and brought it home, wrap it up. Don’t leave it in the bag until later. Later you’ll be busier and have less time. Wrapping early gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps with over-buying. The kids won’t be able to sneak a peek either. Wrapped gifts look nice sitting out and add to the festive feeling of the holidays.

The bottom line to maximizing your enjoyment of the holidays is to get as much done early as you can. Don’t carry lists in your head that distract you from being present with people. Give yourself the time and the calm space to really be in the moment with the people you love and care about. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t take these simple steps towards a stress-free holiday season, call Full Sail Organizing or another professional organizer near you for help.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Fabulous New Year.