Doesn’t it seem as though once you have celebrated Halloween, it is a mere blink of an eye before you are on to turkey, presents, parties, and New Year's resolutions? If you are like me, those eight weeks fly by faster than any other time of the year. That's why being completely buttoned up during December is not only helpful, it is essential.
The first step to staying sanely organized during the holidays is to embrace the famous 80/20 rule and to focus on the most important things first (the 20%). By doing that, you will take care of 80% of what "must" get done and the rest (if you get to it), is just a cherry on top of the "Christmas sundae."
There are four areas to focus on when it comes to your holiday preparations:
- Budgets & Lists
- Wrapping & Unwrapping
- December 26
Holiday cards are a great tradition. Because we have moved 11 times, we have a lot of out of town and state friends and family. Holiday cards are the one way we keep in touch and catch up on what everyone is doing. That being said, it is stressful to think about what the card should be, how many to order and of course, when to find the time to address them.
Give these tips a try to keep your holiday card stress at bay:
- Consider ordering your holiday cards online. It is easy (and often cheaper) to do and you can fit it in around your schedule. It is even simpler if you are doing photo cards. One of my favorite sites for this is Tiny Prints.
- Consider e-greetings for your cards. I know for some of you this is a HUGE leap but it is getting more common and is an especially good option if you have not ordered your cards and your deadline for sending them out is only a few days away.One great site for this is Paperless Post, which is the closest an e-greeting gets to being a real card. It even has a virtual envelope.
- Use a label format on your computer to do address labels for holiday cards. Most document or Word software has pre-done formats for labels. All you need to do is use that template to type in your addresses, buy the corresponding labels, print them off, and stick on the cards. This does take time the first time you do it, but it will save you many hours each subsequent year when all you need to do is review the addresses, make changes, and print new labels.
Budgets & Lists
A budget and a good list of what you need to buy is a basic building block for holiday organization. You need to know who you need to buy for and what you can afford to spend. While this takes a bit of upfront planning, it is worth it not to forget anyone or open an astronomical credit card bill in January.
Try theses tips for holiday budgets and lists:
- Make a list of who you need to shop for, ideas for them, and keep it handy so you have with you when you shop. We have a free downloadable for holiday budgets & gift brainstorming that is easy to use. It includes gift ideas, a tracker for what you have purchased, and what you have spent and a total holiday budget template as well. Give it a try here: Free Buttoned Up Printable Holiday Budget Form.
- Have your child fill out a gift list form. We have to help children learn to give, not just receive. Use our free downloadable to help children record their gifts to others, as well as their present wish list. In addition to asking “What do you want for the holidays?” also ask “What are you giving this year?” Give it a try here: Free Buttoned Up Printable Child's Gift List Form.
- Finally, plan for 10% overage in any budget you make up for things you just "didn’t remember you needed." This is essential to all holiday financial planning.
Wrapping & Unwrapping
Each year I try to find ways to make the task of wrapping presents easier and cheaper. Wrapping paper just gets thrown away. And while it looks great, it is one of those items that falls outside of my "20% Essentials."
But if you are looking for ideas on how to manage the wrapping (and the messy unwrapping) of the holiday gifts, here are a few easy tips:
- Try unconventional wrapping paper. Instead of the standard paper, bow and ribbons, consider using old newspapers, kids artwork, or even reusable cloth bags. These items are better for the environment and often cheaper to buy.
- Download free printable gift tags. Just search Pinterest or Google for free gift tags. There are many adorable options that do not cost anything and look great!
- Prepare for gift clean up. Have plenty of trash bags on hand. Have one bag for wrapping items (bows, gift bags) that you can save and use again. Also, give everyone an envelope with their name on it to hold gift cards, money, and cards so they do not get lost in the shuffle.
Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean the organizing and planning is completely done. I find it is worth the time to organize a bit now for next year’s holidays. Yes, next year will be here before you know it.
Here are 3 quick things to get ready after celebrations for the 2012 holidays:
- Wrap Up the Lights – When the tree comes down, one of the easiest things you can do to get set up for next year is to wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard. It prevents tangling and makes sure decorating in 11 months is a breeze.
- Make an "Open Me First Box" – This is an old moving trick, but it works great for the holidays. Things to think about putting in the box are the tree stand, lights, and essential tools. Pack it away last so it is first out for next year.
- Avoid the Wet Stuff – No one wants moldy, damp decorations. When you pack up items, store them with a small packet of Silica Gel (the stuff that comes with shoes or purses). They will absorb any moisture to make sure everything is in good shape for next year.
Just remember with a little pre-planning, even the holidays can get organized with ease. The most important thing to remember is not to worry about anything that is not essential and to make time to enjoy what really matters… family and friends.