Between agitating over the perennial what to wear, where to go, what to buy, how to pay, and why you ate so much AGAIN, holiday preparations can be filled with high-octane stress. In order to stay calm and manage your time most efficiently, the best advice I have is to not overextend yourself.
When your time is precious, you need to get comfortable with saying no. We’re all overwhelmed with requests for our time, whether it’s social, professional, or family related. Reserve your time and energy for things you absolutely must do and things you actually enjoy.
In terms of buying gifts, your best hope at this point is to shop online—and buy multiples of the same gift whenever possible.
Shop in stores that will wrap the gift for you—it can take a tremendous amount of time to wrap the gifts for family, friends, and colleagues. Be prepared with suggestions when someone asks what you or your children want as gifts. If you’re at a loss, ask for a gift certificate. Return the favor and give gift certificates whenever possible.
If you do receive gifts you don’t want, return them as soon as possible. Don’t let them sit around collecting dust. If you can’t return it, give it away. You won’t feel any better about disposing of it in a year or two, so you may as well do it now.
Holiday cards may be displayed until New Year’s Day, and then they should be discarded. Most people don’t have the pictures of their own children organized, why add pictures of other children to the mix? When my children were preschool age, we used to make a phone book with all of the pictures from the holiday cards. I would fold multiple pieces of construction paper in half staple along the fold. Then, on each page we would paste a picture of a child or family and write the phone number under the picture. We would then practice dialing the phone numbers. It was a really fun way to use the holiday cards, practice numbers, and learn phone etiquette.
Start getting ready for the next holiday season by keeping a list of all of the holiday gifts you gave this year. In addition to family, include your hairdresser, housekeeper, nanny, doorman, garage attendant, secretary, teachers, and postal carrier. You’ll no longer have to wonder if you’re forgetting anyone, whether you’re giving anyone less than last year, or how much you need to budget.
Take down those Christmas decorations, and discard what’s been broken or looks worn. Note what you’ll need for next year.
Look over any holiday menus and note whether you could have served more or less of something. And, take a deep breath as you begin the countdown until next year!