A Christmas Planning Checklist

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but around here, major retailers are already stocking Christmas items. It will only be a couple of weeks before advertisers start filling our heads with “visions of sugar plums.”

Christmas is associated with love, joy and goodwill toward all people. Yet we allow it to become the most stressful time of the year. By the time December 26 has arrived, we’re ready to ignore Christmas for the rest of our lives.

In an attempt to head off the holiday hassle this year, here are a few tips on creating a personal holiday checklist to make the holidays go as smoothly as possible.

Set Limits

Establish some boundaries before you get caught up in having so much to do you can’t enjoy the season. Figure out what parts of the celebration are important to you and set your plan and priorities.

  • If spending time with family and friends is key, don’t overbook your schedule with every concert or play that is running.
  • Set limits for gift giving and spending. Perhaps you can choose names for a gift exchange, rather than buying for every member of the family, every year.
  • Maybe giving back to the community is important. Contact agencies early to volunteer.

You have to have your priorities set, before you can create a plan for a stress-free holiday.

Make planning annual

Christmas is a big time of year for many, yet they leave the preparation to the last minute. Make the holiday planning process ongoing.

  • When you pack up your decoration at the end of the season, note the items you would like or need to replace for next year. Save money buying them at post-Christmas clearance sales.
  • Keep a running wish list of gifts for people to whom you give gifts. Buying gifts throughout the year lets you cash in on sales as well as reducing the last-minute rush to shop.
  • Buy gifts early on-line.
  • Have one place in your home to store all your Christmas items so they are easy to find.

Get ready to entertain

If you are planning to do some entertaining over the holidays, map out a plan. Work out on paper what you want to do, when and for how many.

  • Stock up on non-perishables and frozen items early. Then you’ll only need to worry about perishable items at the last minute.
  • Set your menu early and develop time lines for preparation. Some baked goods can be prepared three months in advance and frozen. Other items can be prepared days in advance and re-heated on party day.
  • Make party planning a group effort; get others involved in the preparations; make the dinner pot-luck.

Do it yourself

The holiday season it a great time to exhibit your artsy-crafty side. You may not be able to hand-make everything, but look for places where you can save money and give a personal touch to the season. You don’t have to have too much innate talent to use card stock and software to make your own Christmas greetings

One of my favourite Christmas activities is to wander through a shopping mall a week or so before December 25th. I like to spend a bit of time being caught up in the hustle and bustle of people frantically trying to get their holiday together. Meanwhile, I’m gloating to myself just a little bit knowing that with a little planning, my celebration is under control.

What are your ideas for planning and preparation to reduce your holiday stress? Post them in the comments below.

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