Plan now to make your holiday calm.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a guide to keep you one step ahead of your holiday to-dos? We’ve created a week-by-week plan to get you through December without losing it.
Week of Oct. 31: Design (or order) your holiday cards and organize addresses. There’s one thing you don’t want lingering on your list come Black Friday, and that is “holiday cards.”
Take the time this week to pick out your card, get your photos in order (or take a family photo this weekend if you haven’t already) and prepare the list of who will receive a card. If you use a digital contact manager like Mac’s Address Book, you can create a group titled “holiday card” and drag and drop contacts from your master list to that group. In Outlook, you can create a new “holiday card” category for contacts and then go through each contact and assign them to that category. In addition, if you are traveling to visit friends and family, make sure your tickets are purchased by the end of this week.
Nov. 7: Set your budgets and make your lists. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spending spree, but you don’t want to start the new year in debt. Use this week to figure out a number that you absolutely will not go over. It will cover the cost of food, presents, travel, decorations and everything else that comes along with the holiday season. And if the cards you ordered have arrived, write and address at least five cards a night this week.
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Nov. 14: Plan the menus. If you plan on hosting a holiday event at your house, now is the time to plan the menu. Think about the drinks, appetizers, main course and desserts, and try to keep it simple. Two free online resources for clipping and organizing recipe ideas are the notes program Evernote and the virtual pin board Pinterest. Your goal this week is to select the menu by Friday. By the end of the weekend, print all the recipes, make your shopping list and store the recipes in a plastic sleeve in a kitchen drawer. Keep up your five-a-night holiday-card habit, too.
Nov. 21 — Thanksgiving week: Get a sparkle on. One of the most stressful parts of entertaining is cleaning your house for your guests. On Monday and Tuesday, concentrate on getting everything in order. On Wednesday, figure out when each dish needs to be cooked and whether something can be prepared in advance. You might even want to get a jump on Christmas preparations by doubling recipes that can be frozen. Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones.
Nov. 28: Get your gifts in order. Armed with your gift list, hit the Internet and get your shopping out of the way on Cyber Monday. Send back any RSVPs you’ve been putting off, and send your own holiday cards/invitations out. Then enjoy the time you have before the rush starts again, and treat yourself to at least one day of relaxation for a job well done.
Dec. 5: Deck the halls. Drag out those storage bins and start unpacking the decorations! It’s time to untangle those lights, trim the tree and dust off the holiday CDs and playlists. Also, if you have any gifts to buy that you haven’t already ordered online, this would be the week to do it. Ditto if you have gifts to ship.
Dec. 12: Set up a wrapping station. Clear off a flat working space, like the dining-room table, and organize scissors, paper, tape and, if you use them, gift tags on the surface. Wrap a few presents every evening this week. If you don’t have wrapping paper, use a green alternative like newspaper or cloth bags — or even put children’s artwork to good use.
Dec. 19: Seek peace. Relax. You are ready. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush, so slow down and enjoy your loved ones before the season is over.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org