The thought of getting ready for the holidays can be enough to take the joy out of what is supposed to be a time for family, friends, for some, spirituality and of course great food! But, getting everything off of the to do list in time can be a daunting task as it seems the stores and our peers start preparing earlier and earlier each year.
Often many professional organizers point out that the best way to get your house in order is to plan an event. If you are the sibling that has to host Thanksgiving at your house this season, don’t look at it as a ton of work, but a blessing to kick your family into gear to get everything in your home the way that you would ideally like it.
My first recommendation to lower holiday stress is to make lists. It seems very basic, but some people don’t look at the big picture early enough. I recommend taking a journal or a notebook and setting up a series of To Do lists on various topics surrounding the holiday season. For instance you may need a list of people you are buying gifts for, a list of people to send holiday cards to, a gift idea list, a party/holiday meal list for ingredients and supplies or a list of what gets done before guests arrive at the house. There are even online websites that can help provide templates to help you such as www.organizedchristmas.com. Products are also available which help you map out your holiday gift giving and ideas.
If you have trouble following lists, hand them off to someone who doesn’t. While this may seem like a luxury that many people don’t have, you may be surprised when you have mapped out a plan how easy it is to find people to help get parts of it done. Involving every family member in the planning will help everyone get on the same page to get the house prepared in time. Consider asking a loyal babysitter to do some errands for you this holiday season or hiring a professional like me who can quickly organize your holiday card contact list into printable labels.
In addition to delegating, I suggest trying to do as much as possible without leaving your house. Whether it is using a service like Stop & Shop’s Peapod to order the groceries you need for the holidays to be delivered right to your house or shopping online for your gifts, you can eliminate a lot of the frustration that holiday shopping can bring. Starting now is critical not only because you will be done earlier, but it will ensure that you don’t pay higher shipping costs to get packages delivered on time.
While being stressed is never pleasant, the good thing is that you are being signaled to act early. The most important organizational tip I can leave you with this holiday season is to plan now and get as much done as you can by early December. If you do you will be more relaxed and will be able to enjoy the most important times with your family.
Kristin Mastromarino is a professional organizer at Livable Solutions, LLC (www.livablesolutions.com), owner of The Organized Lifestyle retail store (www.theorganizedlifestylestore.com) and is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). You can email her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.