12 Days to an Organized Christmas

The holiday season is a busy time. We often have extra responsibilities during this season, which can cause stress and feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to share 12 things you can do, one each day, to prepare for the holidays and make your holiday season run a little more smoothly. As of today (December 13th), we are 12 days away from Christmas!

{{DAY 1}}

Create a holiday to-do list. Writing out everything that needs to be done – whether with a pen and paper, or in a list app on your phone – begins the process of getting everything organized. From decorating, baking, and purchasing gifts; to wrapping gifts, sending holiday cards, and planning for parties, it can all be very overwhelming. Start by listing all the tasks that need to get done.

{{DAY 2}}

Allocate tasks to each day leading up to the holiday. It can be daunting to look at that list you just made. But, as you begin to plug in tasks to different time slots on your calendar, you begin to feel less stressed as you make a concise plan to get tasks done.

{{DAY 3}}

Clean up and organize your family drop zone. Everyone has a “drop zone” in their home – you know, that place where your family members seem to organically DROP all of their things when they return home? It could be a kitchen desk, mudroom, or entryway. Get this area into shape so that it functions well. Add labeled baskets, a file sorter for kids school work, or a bin for mail. This area of our home can cause a lot of stress if it is chaotic, and our stress level is already high during the holidays.

{{DAY 4}}

Keep a list of inventory. It’s important to keep track of everything you have purchased and need to purchase. You can write this down on a notepad, or use an app on your phone. Keep track of the gifts you have and need to purchase and how much you have spent to stay on budget. Also keep track of what you need to purchase for baking, special meals, or items for parties. Be sure to assess what you already have – check what holiday paper and ribbon you have leftover from last year to determine what you need to purchase. See what you already have in your pantry or refrigerator/freezer to determine what items you need to get for baking and holiday parties.

TIME TO DECLUTTER!

{{DAY 5}}

Holiday decor. After you have decorated your house for the holiday season is a great time to assess what you did not use this year. The chances of you using something next year that you did not use this year is very slim. This is an easy declutter process as it happened naturally just from you decorating! Purge what is leftover!

{{DAY 6}}

Pantry and refrigerator/freezer. Right before the holidays is a great time to declutter unused or expired food from your pantry and refrigerator/freezer. At this time, you can assess what needs to be replenished. We always need special items which we don’t tend to buy throughout the year for the holiday season – especially baking items.

{{DAY 7}}

Kids toys! This is a great time to assess what toys are broken and can be thrown away and what toys your children aren’t playing with. Include your children in this process. Remind them of the boundaries in your home with regard to toys and that you need to make room for the new toys that will arrive on Christmas morning. Encourage them to be generous, as it is a season of giving, and have them choose toys that you all could take to a women’s shelter or children’s home to bless those less fortunate. Not only are you teaching them about boundaries and decluttering, you are also teaching them about how this season is about giving.

{{DAY 8}}

Coats and blankets. This is a great time of year (at least for those of us living in the northern hemisphere!) to gather coats and blankets that you are not using. Again, get your family involved to declutter their items as well and take your extra coats and blankets to a homeless shelter.

{{DAY 9}}

Last on the decluttering list is mugs. Mugs seem to be an item that many people accumulate. Many of us are regularly using mugs during this season to enjoy hot drinks. Choose your favorites, and donate the rest!

{{DAY 10}}

Prioritize what is important to your family this holiday season. There are a lot of opportunities to spend time together with family and friends. There are parties, extended family gatherings, traditions, and more. It’s okay to say “no” to things in this season. Do what works best for your family, and the life phase your family is in. Maybe there is a tradition that worked well and was fun when your kids were really young, but now as they are getting older it’s just annoying to them. Find something else that will be meaningful and memorable to do together!

{{DAY 11}} 

Prepare for guests arrival. This won’t pertain to everyone, but many of us have guests in town for the holidays. Inflate the blow up mattress, wash the guest room sheets and towels, prepare a basket full of necessities – like an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. for in case your guests forgot something. You could also include extra things like water bottles and snacks to make your guests comfortable. Another idea is to display a picture frame with the wifi network and password. Or go all out and provide slippers and/or a robe for your guests!

{{DAY 12}}

Leave margin for rest! As I mentioned before, the holiday season can be a very stressful time of year. Plan into your schedule time for rest – to get a manicure or massage, or maybe it’s just leaving room for the things that you do all year long to recharge – reading a book, journaling, or exercising. If you organize your schedule and have a plan, then it’s much easier to include time to relax!

I hope you are inspired to start making a plan for this holiday season! The 12 day countdown to Christmas is on!!

An Organized Holiday, 5 Tips to Prep for Thanksgiving

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year, where we get to celebrate and enjoy slower, intentional  time with family and/or friends. But, this time of year can also be very stressful and overwhelming. I wanted to share five tips to help you prepare for the holidays. Having an organized schedule and being prepared will help your holiday season go smoothly so you can enjoy the beautiful parts of this season. 

{{ONE}} Make a list of all that needs to get done, then allocate tasks leading up to the holiday. There is always so much extra to do around the holidays. Extra cleaning that needs to get done, extra cooking, and extra shopping. Plan ahead and allocate different extra tasks to different days. Maybe you want to get some deep cleaning done prior to guests coming into town. You could plan to do that a week or even two weeks out. Then, you will just need to do last minute cleaning before their arrival. If there is any shopping – food or gifts – that needs to get done, do it in advance. Having a plan to get things done ahead of time will prevent that feeling of “scrambling” to get things done.

{{TWO}} Prepare food in advance. In conjunction with allocating tasks ahead of time, plan to prepare some of the holiday food ahead of time. Are there any dishes you could make a week or two out and freeze? Is there any prep work you can do in advance to make preparing the dish easier closer to the holiday?

{{THREE}} Plan to make easy meals right before and after the holiday. You could make some meals ahead of time and freeze them to have leading up to the holidays. Alternatively, maybe this is a good time to check out meal plan services. Many of these companies that send you meal kits to your front door offer very simple meal options that might be worth investing in just for the holidays. Crockpot or Instant Pot meals are another great easy option as there are many all-in-one meals you can throw together very easily. 

{{FOUR}} Enlist help.I have ordered the pre-made Thanksgiving meals from our local organic grocery store for the last several years – taking the task of most of the food prep off my to-do list. Perhaps plan a potluck meal for Thanksgiving or other holiday get-togethers, taking some of the food prep off of your to-do list. Have your kids help with the cooking and cleaning. It might not be perfect, but the work gets done and it teaches your kids some of the elements of hospitality. If you don’t have kids, maybe some friends can come over on a Saturday morning to help you get your house clean or food prepped. More hands = work getting done faster, and I have always found it way more fun to cook and clean with friends! 

{{FIVE}} Lower your expectations. I am giving this advice as a “recovering perfectionist.” I know we all like things to be perfect at the holidays, but likely your guests won’t even notice the cobwebs in the corners of your house, or dusty baseboards. And if so, WHO CARES! The holidays are about gathering family. Most family members are much less critical of our housekeeping and cooking skills than we think. I know I would not want family members to be stressed out trying to make things perfect for my arrival!

I hope this gave you some ideas of how you can get your schedule organized prior to the holidays. Doing a little extra work in advance each day will take some of the stress off leading up to the holidays. Remember, even if everything doesn’t get done, the important part of the holidays is celebrating and spending time with family! Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you’d like to check it out!