Thursday, November 14, 2013

Countdown to the Holidays

The holidays are approaching fast, I know different people celebrate different occasions, but for me, these are my deadlines:

14 Days until Thanksgiving

41 Days until Christmas

48 Days until New Years Eve

Sitting down and looking at my planner and considering these countdown's as well as travel plans, visitors and our children's hectic schedules I am slightly panicked at how much I need to do and how little free time there actually is to do it. Chances are that you are feeling the same way. Don't worry, there is plenty of time. You just need a good plan!

Schedule

The first thing you need to do is to get a handle on what you have going on over the next two months. Make sure that everything is written down somewhere so that you can get the big picture at a glance. I use this planner.

Gift List

Make a list of who you need to buy gifts for. Then look at your schedule and add any gifts that you will be bringing to all events on your list. Secret Santa? Add it. Children's parties? Teachers Gifts? Write it all down. Dinner with friends? Add wine and flowers to the list.
Now set your budget.
Every time you buy something add it to the list as well as the cost so that you can keep track of how you're doing. I keep my list on Excel. I have three columns on my list Name, Gift, $. I fill in gift ideas as I think of them, and list actual purchases in bold with the cost so that I can easily see what is left to buy. I try to get most of my shopping done by the end of November. This gives me plenty of time to ship items as well as for wrapping. Wrapping a few gifts at a time is a lot of fun. Marathon wrapping sessions are not.
Now is the time to order any monogrammed items. Do you or your children like to give handmade gifts? Make them now. I am giving cookie sheets and cookie mix as teachers gifts this year, and I know they will be much prettier if I make them now rather than the night before the last day of school.
I also always try to have a couple of small gifts on hand, just in case.

Christmas Cards

If you haven't already ordered your cards. Do. It. Now. I can get overwhelmed trying to pick our card each year. There are just so many choices. I like these, these and these.


I mail overseas cards on December 1st and those for the US on December 10th. 

Cleaning and Organizing

Hosting any event over the next two months will be a lot less stressful if you do the cleaning and organizing now. Now is the time to schedule yard work, window cleaning, repairs, get the guest room ready, and get everything spick and span. Not the day before you host a dinner party, or your guests arrive.

Decorating

At the moment my homes are decorated for the fall, but the Friday after Thanksgiving, that will all be replaced by our Christmas decorations. Some years it all gets done in a day, other years I'll just do a little bit at a time. Just have fun with it. Make some mulled wine, buy some Pfeffernüsse and play some Christmas music.


Food and Drink

Follow these three simple rules for any holiday meals and entertaining:
  • Plan your menu. 
  • Write your shopping list. 
  • Write a time plan. 
Remember those countdowns and start planning. I'm sure you and your family will have an amazing holiday season.

Do you have any tips on how to have amazing, stress free holidays?

      

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The musings of a Town and Country friend...