Wow, I cannot believe it is November 1, 2010 already. It seems to me that 2010 went by way to fast. And now Christmas is only a few weeks away. I find that although this time of year is my favorite, it can also be the most stressful. But it does not have to be.
Here are some tips I have used over the years to help cut down on Christmas preparation stress:
1. Shop Throughout The Year: (and set a budget)
I know it sounds crazy, but I pick up gifts throughout the year for the gifts I need. As I see things I will pick up items, then I mark it down in my Holiday Countdown Notebook. I put a list of everyone I have to buy for, and then put the item I have purchased. Since most everything I give as gifts has to be shipped out, I make a note of weights ands sizes of items too. This helps to make my trip to the bus depot or UPS as efficient as possible.
A budget also helps hugely. I know for my husband and I, we have a lot of people to hope for. But not a lot of funds to do so. Between the two of us, there are 11 nieces and nephews to shop for and that is no cheap feat. However, it is amazing how much you can find for a small budget. We set out to spend $10-15 (max) per person and we have never gone over. In fact, last year we only spent $100 on gifts for the nieces and nephews. This year is about the same.
2. Make a list of all baking and meal ideas and needs in October or Early November:
During the month of October, you will see a lot of magazines come out with Christmas cookie, and other baking, recipes. I will collect ones that I think will work for my family. Then I take an hour or so, and sort through them. I usually end up picking about 10 different cookie recipes and a few other recipes for our family dinner on Christmas Day. I find when I do this it makes for less stress when it comes down to the last few weeks of Christmas baking time. Also, I make a list of ingredients that I know I do not regularly stock in my pantry. For example, things like some of the ingredients for fruit cake. I do this so that I can split up the Christmas baking ingredient shopping throughout the month of November. That way, there is not as much stress on my grocery shopping budget.
3. Make a Christmas Card List Early:
I usually make a list of everyone I want to give a Christmas card to in late October or early November. I have a large family, and extended friends and family to mail cards to. This year we are sending both photo cards and regular Christmas cards out, so my list has to be done early so that I know how many photo cards to order. I also make my Christmas cards, so I have to know how much materials to be purchasing too.
Also, with Christmas cards, I usually create return address labels, to place on the envelopes for mailing. Saves so much time!
These are just three tips that I have right now. However, stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks for more great Christmas tips and ideas to make this the best Christmas ever for you and your loved ones!
Be Blessed today!