Practical reminders, common sense approaches and clever solutions to avoid everyday challenges and live your best life.
Americans are blessed with holidays at year's end. From Thanksgiving at the end of November through Hanukkah, Christmas and/or Kwanzaa and on to New Year's in December, it seems like there isn't a spare day to catch a breath.
Don't let that crowded calendar get you down. With a plan in hand, you'll be able to handle whatever curveballs the season throws at you and enjoy the true pleasures of the holidays.
As early as September, with summer activities over, you have a few moments to collect your thoughts. This is the time to sit down and make your holiday plan.
Make Travel Plans
The first thing you need to plan is holiday travel, both because it takes the most time and because it's time/cost sensitive. Decide if you're going out of town during the holiday season, and get your transportation and accommodation nailed down as soon as possible.
Book Parties and Events
This task is also time-sensitive, because the best venues get booked early. Even if you're planning to host your own party, you want to give your guests plenty of advance notice so they can work it into their own holiday schedules. And don't forget to set up a lunch or coffee date over the holiday season with your best buddies; if you leave it to chance, chances are it won't happen.
Make Your Gift List and Stick to It
With a list in hand, it's easier to pick up items as you do other shopping, and you won't have one or two people left to buy for at the last minute. Be sure to include all seasonal gifts -- hosts, coworkers, teachers and so on. If you're sending gifts by mail, check the latest date you can send them so that they arrive on time.
Once you've bought a gift for someone, set it aside and don't second-guess your choice; that only wastes time and adds stress. If you find this difficult to do, wrap the gift as soon as you get it home. Out of sight, out of mind.
Hopefully, you organized all your seasonal decorations last year before you put them in storage so you don't have to deal with broken ornaments or burnt-out lights this year. If not, get those decorations out earlier than you will need them to give yourself time to make any repairs or buy replacements.
Set aside a day to decorate your pad from top to bottom. It's much more efficient — and satisfying — to get it all done at once, and then you can just sit back and admire your seasonal display.
Plan and Buy Food and Drinks
Depending on how and where you are celebrating the various special days, you might have an assortment of food and drinks to buy or prepare. This is where the first two steps pay off; check that travel and party schedule and determine what food and drinks you need for each one.
Make a master list, but keep in mind that you won't likely want to, or be able to, buy everything at once, so break it down into logical and manageable shopping trips.
Make Sure You're Having Fun
After all, that's what the holiday season is all about. Look at your to-do list, and if you feel completely overwhelmed, trim it down or ask for help. Your goal is to arrive at New Year's Day with a head full of happy memories, not feeling exhausted, and a good plan well executed will get you there.