Remember when you were a child and couldn’t wait for the holidays? As a busy parent, you probably still can’t wait for the holidays — to be over, that is. But despite your busy schedule, you can still get organized and enjoy the holidays more.
The following tips will be more effective if you do one thing first: Imagine your ideal holiday season, one that would bring you the same kind of anticipation and excitement you had as a child, and let that image guide you as you set priorities. Once you can see this year’s holiday clearly, you’re ready to read further.
1. Question a routine or precedent. Over the years some holiday traditions can lose their meaning. Before you invest yourself in another year of making latkes or fruitcakes or in writing an annual holiday letter, reassess your holiday traditions. Perhaps there’s a tradition that you’re ready to retire or one you’d like to begin. One caveat: Take care that you don’t discard some “bonding” traditions just because they’re time-consuming. If they’re important to you and your family, they’re worth whatever time they take.
2. Set a deadline. Decide when you’ll finish your holiday shopping and preparations, and plan how you will approach your holiday commitments. Do something every day to help you meet your deadline.
3. Carry your smart phone. Put it in your pocket and use it to make a quick note to yourself when you hear someone say, “You know what I really would like?” or “You know what I really need?” That was you can get useful gifts.
4. Give the gift of time. With some prior planning and rescheduling, you can take a half day off work and take your kids ice skating. You’ll find that this unexpected bit of reprieve will spread a lot of good cheer. Another gift of time is to give the service of a personal assistant. The recipient can have the assistant run errands or, if you give it early in the season, do holiday shopping. Think of using an assistant yourself to take some of the stress out of your own holiday shopping. A gift certificate from a professional organizer is another good gift idea.
5. Place your order online. Use the Internet or your smart phone to order presents and have them wrapped and sent. All you need is your credit card. It’s the easiest way I know to send gifts to people who live out of town. And if you’re traveling during the holidays, have the gifts sent to where you’re going.
6. Shop late or go early. Stores are the least crowded during the dinner hour and when they open in the morning. Some stores (and order departments if you’re using a catalog or the Internet to shop) are open 24 hours during the holidays. Try getting up in the middle of the night to get more done. Consider it a “house call” for yourself!
7. Learn to take time for yourself. Quite often we are so focused in deadlines, parties, work demands, and home demands, we don’t take time for ourselves. You should allot 1-2 hours per day for a good workout and hobby to keep you balanced.
8. Healthy eating. Before you go to your holiday party, eat a healthy meal at home. You can fill your plate with small appetizers at the holiday party to nibble on. Also, limit your sweets to once per day. Keep your body hydrated.
Finally, think ahead. Be on the lookout for gifts throughout the year. Buy a holiday gift at the same time you’re shopping for the person’s birthday.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!