Eight Easy Steps to an Organized Holiday Season

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By Jill Fleming, SOS: Smart Organizing Solutions

I love Christmas!  There’s just something magical about this time of year.  And, if you have a plan in place, you can spend more time enjoying it and less time feeling stressed out about it.

1.    Put together a calendar.  Parties, school concerts, dinner dates with friends, shopping dates, caroling, church events – everything you want to do should go on the calendar.

2.    Put together a “to-do” list.  From Christmas cards to shopping to meal planning, jot down everything you’d like to get done and then add it to your calendar.  It’s very satisfying to cross things off your “to-do” list.

3.    Prepare for visitors.  If you’re having guests for Christmas dinner or even for an extended holiday stay, get your house ready early.  If you do a deep clean early in the month, before you decorate, you’ll only need to spot clean the house closer to their arrival.

4.    Decorate.  I have a lot of Christmas decorations.  Each year, as I pull them out, I do a quick check to see if I still absolutely love something.  If I don’t, I set it aside for donation.  It’s a great way to pare down what I need to store all year and I know someone else will enjoy what was once a cherished item.

5.    Christmas cards.  This is a tradition that can take on a life of its own.  Update your address book.  I actually do this all year long as people move, get married or have kids.  Will you send a card, a photo card or a letter?  Set aside time to buy cards, take your photo (or design one using existing photos) or write your  letter.  And don’t forget the holiday stamps.  I highly recommend getting a start on this task in November so you can send your cards at the beginning of December.

6.    Gifts.  I come from a very large family and we’re spread out all over the country.  We made the decision long ago to skip gifts unless we happen to be visiting at Christmas-time.  Most of my husband’s family lives here.  And he’s also from a big family.  But unless we’re doing a special get-together with someone, we save our gift-giving for the kiddos.  I don’t always succeed, but I try to get my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving.  I just don’t want to deal with the crowds and traffic.  Throughout the year, if I see something for one of the people on my shopping list, I pick it up.  I have one place set aside in the spare bedroom closet for such gifts.  Having one location means you won’t forget what you’ve bought, who you’ve bought it for or where you’ve put it.

7.    Wrapping gifts.  Once all my gifts are purchased, I like to set aside one night or one afternoon for a massive wrapping session.  That way I don’t have to drag out all of the supplies more than once.  Plus, it’s great to see it all done, under the tree and ready for delivery!

8.    Bake.  While I love to cook, baking is just not something I’m into.  However, my husband’s family has the most amazing tradition.  Each December, they pick a Saturday or Sunday later in the month and everyone gets together at one person’s house for a day of baking.  It’s a great time to catch up and at the end of the day, we leave with a little bit of something from everyone!  So we get to sample all sorts of treats but only have to bake one of them ourselves.  If you’re planning your own day of baking, make a list of what you plan to make and how much you’ll make.  If your treats are for gifts, don’t forget to think about what kind of packaging you’ll need.

Most all, take time to enjoy time with family and friends. Happy Holidays everyone!

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