By now you’re probably in the throes of holiday hoopla. Despite being December, it still doesn’t feel like the festive season to me. It usually hits me mid-month, and then I enter into full blown panic mode. Going to Christmas in November helps, but so do these other 7 tips listed below. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years on how to enjoy the holidays.
Decide what’s really important
Maybe you really want to see a holiday concert or get together with your girlfriends to decorate gingerbread men (an annual tradition of mine). Try to spend some time (now!) chatting with your family about what they really want to do and see over the holidays.
Sometimes we do things (nobody likes) just for tradition sake. If you hate mailing Christmas cards and dread putting up outdoor lights, why do it? So often we try to cram in everything we experienced as kids without remembering how taxed it made our parents. There’s consequences for doing it all.
Now that you know what’s important to you, schedule it in. Fire off some texts to your girlfriends, make the date, Sharpie it in your calendar and commit. The earlier you make these plans the better. Even though the week before Christmas will be a busy one, I’m so looking forward to chilling with my girlfriends over dinner and a movie. Now, should we see Allied or Manchester by the Sea?
The trick is to leave in some buffer time. You need a bit of slack in your schedule, so when a last minute fun thing comes your way, you can take it without feeling overwhelmed.
Whip up a batch of dough
Cookie dough can easily last a month or two in the freezer. I try to make a batch of sugar cookie dough in November (sometimes I even use my leftover Halloween dough). That first weekend in December I try to dedicate to holiday baking, card writing and house decorating. It’s like Christmas bootcamp. And should you forget all about that dough until the New Year (guilty), simply roll it out on Valentines Day.
Pack a Christmas Prep Box
We always seem to run out of time to do Christmas crafts and read all the holiday stories. My solution is to keep a box of crafts, cards, holiday puzzles and baking accoutrements at the ready. When Christmas is over, I pack up these items (things I want to get started on early) separate from my other Christmas boxes. It’s within easy reach in our garage, so when mid-November rolls around, I grab this box and get started.
Batch a few healthy meals
I’m feeling pretty smug, as I cranked out a pot of turkey chili a few weekends back. Then I roasted a turkey last weekend (we do a rib roast for Christmas dinner) and made an awesome healthy soup with the leftovers. Into the freezer my perfectly portioned meals went. When the crunch time hits in the next few weeks, I know I won’t have to resort to takeaway.
Shopping on the sly
Lots of ladies I know aim to be done their holiday shopping by December 1. That’s impressive, but not realistic for me. Still, throughout the year I stash stocking stuffers for my family into bags specific to them. If I spot something under $10 and I know they’d like it, I snap it up, then pop it into their “stocking bag.” Conferences and trade shows are great for gathering little trinkets, and don’t discredit those old fashioned (cheap) items like a new toothbrush or an orange. And anytime I get free makeup samples, I throw those into a little bag just for me.
Figure out a charity element
Eve isn’t yet 12, so it’s difficult to find a cause where she can volunteer. Still, you can get kids looking online and buy some family in a developing nation a few chickens or a goat if you’re feeling flush. We downloaded these posters from the Compliment Project, and had a ball taping them to lampposts around our neighbourhood. The point is to spread Christmas cheer, and to think of how you can help those in need.
How do you get a leg up on your Christmas prep?
P.S. You may enjoy reading these Christmas secrets from celebrity chefs.