Preparing for the holidays can be great fun, but it can also be a big headache as you try to untangle long strings of Christmas lights and sift through your Christmas ornaments. How many times have you tried to be good and save some money by buying a Christmas present early but then the season rolled around you couldn’t find it? It’s easy to do if you buy presents throughout the year, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Successful Tips for Staying Organized During the Holidays
With a little thought, a good plan and some commitment you can make next Christmas a snap! The best thing that you can do to make your life during the holidays easier is to designate a special space to organize and stage your Christmas. It doesn’t have to be a large space, but making one is the important part.
Make a Space
Finding a little room to make your own can be difficult in a busy house, but it will save you lots of time and aggravation when the holiday season rolls around. A closet in a spare room makes a great place to stage your holiday preparations. If you have more room, then great, if not, then maybe a few boxes under the bed will work just fine. The important thing is that you keep everything in one organized space and that you stick to your organizational plan. In your designated Christmas space you can put all the things you need for Christmas. Don’t just pile things in old boxes and bags, instead go ahead and invest in some ‘tools’ for your organization. They sell special boxes that store wrapping paper, keeping it from being mangled next season. You can store Christmas ornaments in ornament storage boxes that keep each ornament safe for the next year. You can store weather-resistant larger items such as lights, wreaths and displays in garages and attics. But do not store your ornaments in such places as the temperature changes and moisture will damage them.
You might buy a notebook in which you can keep all of your notes about Christmas; menu ideas, Christmas card lists, gift lists, supplies that you need, etc. Once you have bought a gift for someone to make a note next to their name in the notebook to help you remember what goes to whom. This is especially useful with thematic gifts as you go through the years. Just jot down a note to yourself in a Christmas notebook you keep with all of your other supplies. An example would be if last year you chose to give everyone a Snowball Christmas scene ornament, but this year you want to give everyone a Homes and Neighbors ornament or a personalized angel ornament. By keeping track of the themes you’ve already used in prior years, you won’t risk duplication!
If you’ve got something you needed such as Christmas cards, wrapping paper or ribbon then mark it off the list so that you don’t buy it twice.
Receiving Christmas cards is one of our favorite parts of the holiday season. The cards let you stay in touch with distant friends and family and even those neighbors you just don’t see enough! In return it’s great to send out Christmas cards that reflect your family’s joy of the season. It’s a wonderful idea to buy holiday cards right after Christmas when they are on sale, then stash them away for next year. Put them in the ‘holiday’ space but make sure they aren’t all mixed in with the rest of your Christmas items because those cards will be one of the first things you go looking for next year. January is also the time to take a look through the cards you received and update your own Christmas card list. Has someone moved? Someone new send you a card? Be sure to add them to your list so that it is as up-to-date as possible. If you use a computer to keep your addresses then print out a copy of the list and store it with the cards for next year, that way if disaster strikes your computer you will at least have the hardcopy back up.
Make a list of gifts that you will need. Start by listing your family members and then adding extended family, friends, co-workers, teachers and coaches as they apply to you. As you make the list leave room for notes as you go through the holiday season. You might make a note next to each name designating an amount that you would like to spend, creating a budget framework to keep in mind as you shop through all the temptations. If you have any ideas of what you would like to get the personal note that, too, that way you can keep an eye out!
Buy a paper calendar or figure out how to use the one on your computer! Look the calendar over and set some goal dates for when you want to have things done. Maybe July, write a present list, pick a theme and start shopping. September, make final purchases. October review Christmas card list, buy canned and other dry goods for Christmas meals that can sit on the shelf for some time.
o Week 1: Write Christmas cards
o Week 2: Address Christmas cards
o Week 3: Buy Christmas stamps
o Week 4: Send out Christmas cards
Keep all of your receipts! If you have a file folder system, that’s great. If not a simple shoe box will do in a pinch. Anything is better than losing them or having them scattered in lots of different locations throughout the house.
Once your Christmas shopping gift list is complete, make your plan to tackle this year’s Christmas shopping. Perhaps you could pick a theme and shop for gifts all within that theme which can simplify things a great deal. An idea such as ‘spa’ means you could buy comfortable robes, relaxing teas, scented candles and even gift certificates to local beauty places to give as gifts. Personalized Christmas ornaments are another excellent theme because despite getting similar gifts for a group, they can all have that important personal touch.
If one of those single items isn’t a large enough gift, you can group them together for a larger present. Making a theme for the year’s gifts can really simplify things if you shop all year long for Christmas. It’s a great budget and time saver, but it does mean that you need some organization up front to make it work.
Shopping online can be a fun way to find the things you need at good prices. Many websites offer deals and free shipping on orders over a certain amount, so combine shopping for more than one person so that you can meet the minimums and reap the reward! Keep in mind that websites will run out of popular items just like regular stores, so shop as early as is practical. Standard shipping can also take several weeks and the holiday season is busy, so if you can shop throughout the year and store the gifts until you use them.
As you buy your Christmas presents place them in the designated Christmas area. As long as you don’t have an overly curious family you can keep everything all together. If you want to keep family gifts separate to maintain the surprise then keep only gifts for extended family and friends in the closet and hide the family gifts wherever you think them safest- just be sure to remember where they all are! If the gift was purchased with someone special in mind then place a sticky note on the gift to remind you who it is for when it comes time to wrap. If it is a general gift purchased to give to someone but not a certain individual then put it in a box for hostess gifts or general gifts. When it is time to wrap those presents for co-workers, teachers, coaches, and others you can ‘shop’ in this box for something just right.
You can also wrap your gifts as you buy them and store them wrapped (without bows). If you do, be sure to place a sticky note on it that reminds you what it is and for whom it is intended. Even if you put on a ‘To and From’ tag, there is a good chance you’ll have trouble remembering exactly what it is you bought. Save yourself the unwrapping hassle and use the sticky note!