Create checklists, cheat sheets, and tracking forms
We all know about writing to-do lists and while this can be helpful what can be even more helpful is creating reference lists you can use year after year. Write them out this year, then store them with the decorations at the end of the season, and you’ll have a guide for future holiday seasons. Not sure where to start or which list to make first? Try one of these ideas:
Gift cheat sheet: No more stressing out wondering if you bought the right size; make a note of clothing and jewelry sizes, preferred colors, and favorite sports teams for the people on your gift list.
Online purchase tracking form: Start a sheet to track all your online purchases. Make a note of what you ordered, from where, and when it is due to arrive. One glance at your form and you’ll know what you are still waiting for and if it is overdue to arrive.
“Find-it” checklist: This guide to holiday gear will help you avoid the last-minute stress of finding something you own—but may not remember where you put it. Simply make a list of things to track down in advance, like the oversized serving platter, extra food storage containers for leftovers, table linens, the dining table leaf to extend the table for guests, folding chairs, special outfits you’ll wear, and any gifts you may have purchased early and put aside. Avoid stressful, last-minute dashes to the store by plotting out your recipes, list the ingredients, then check your pantry so you don’t start making your signature cookie only to realize you are out of ground cinnamon.
Capitalize on your calendar
Entering an event is just the beginning of how to best use your calendar. Stress-proof your holiday season by taking time now to add in other dates. First, pencil in anything you have committed to or purchased tickets to attend; then add in all the non-holiday events like birthdays. Next, look over all the events that require you do something, like bringing a gift or baking a treat, add in a reminder a few days before each event to keep them from creeping up on your unexpectedly. Schedule necessary appointments, like a salon or barber appointment, a rug cleaning, dog grooming, manicure and look over the dates to see if you need a pet or babysitter. Don’t forget to pencil in holiday tasks like a wrapping gifts, baking, cooking, and grocery shopping. If you don’t block off the time then the time might not be there for you to get these things done. Finally, set aside few hours for yourself throughout the month; this spare time will be valuable for catching up on things or simply stopping to enjoy a cup of cocoa.
Assign specific storage spots
Searching your home for misplaced things is not only stressful but a huge waste of time. Your checklists can help, but try going a step further to decide where you are going to store things like gift receipts—try something as simple as an envelope in your bag or a small box in the kitchen. Put all the gifts in one closet or spot in the attic, place all the holiday cards—or at least the envelopes if you’re displaying the cards—in one place to make sure you’ve sent a card to everyone. These organizational skills will stress-proof your holidays, but only if you make sure to stick to the plan and put things in their proper place as soon as you’re done with them. If you’re still deciding what to give people, check out these 21 all-American holiday gifts for everyone on your list.