Tsue ~ That's What She Said: Top Ten Holiday Planning Tips For Keeping Your Season Merry and Stress Free

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Top Ten Holiday Planning Tips For Keeping Your Season Merry and Stress Free

While it is difficult to focus on the impending holiday season when Michigan is enjoying unseasonal  70 + degree weather, experience has taught me that staying on schedule can make or break my ability to enjoy the season.

Although most of my immediate and extended family enjoys long, luxurious breaks from work and school over the holidays, the nature of my day job is such, as one of our busiest seasons, I usually only have the reprieve of the actual holiday.  With this in mind, it is essential that I develop a Holiday Plan and stick to it!

Top Ten Holiday Planning Tips

1.  Start your next year's holiday gift buying list during this year's holiday!
I have always found my gift idea creativity at its peak while my family and friends are gathered, exchanging gifts.  Inspired by the twinkle in a recipient's eye, I've turned my hindsight into foresight, as those great ideas that I just couldn't bring to the forefront of my mind come flooding back to me.  I make certain to jot down notes with ideas for next year at the conclusion of each gathering.  Whether you will plan some personal, handmade gifts for the kids to create during school breaks or will be on the hunt something fabulous and unique from an eclectic online boutique, your list will keep you on track and save you time.

2.  Start shopping early!
While you shopping list isn't likely to be totally complete in January, you'll have come away from your holiday gatherings with some fantastic ideas!  I organize my ideas list and watch for retailer specials and sales throughout the year.  I am more likely to save on my gift buying using this method and certainly appreciate spreading out my shopping over time, instead of a mass rush at the last minute.

3.  Take advantage of after season sales on decor and wrap!
Even since I discovered the after holiday sales a few years ago, I never buy holiday decorations or gift wrap until the clearance sales.  I'll pick up new lights for the house at 50 - 75% off, shaking my head at the days when I used to spend full price.  While some higher priced items will move quickly once the markdowns are in place, if you wait a week or so, you'll find even deeper discounts on staples such as wrapping paper, bows, tissue and tags.

4.  Start with a budget! 
While changes to income or family circumstances may impact your holiday shopping budget over the course of  the year, my husband and I agree on a budget, broken down by category and even to recipients, in January.   Being able to look at that looming figure and break it down monthly can serve as significant motivation to stay on task throughout the year.

5.  Wrap it right away!
Nothing can take the jingle out of your holiday faster than leaving all your gift wrapping to the last minute.  My husband and I, due to demanding schedules,  were often guilty of doing just that.  We'd find ourselves in a frenzy and running late to family gathering, arriving in sour moods.  Alternatively, as our eyes drooped and fingers slowed tying clumsy bows, we find ourselves finally finishing wrapping for the big day, only minutes before our excited children woke up!

6. Tag it!
When wrapping presents as they are purchased, it is really important to make sure they are securely tagged.  One year, I found myself unwrapping and re wrapping a collection of gifts because I had foolishly thought I would recognize the shapes of the wrapped packages. Now,  I also write the recipients name somewhere on the paper, for added security in the event the tag is displaced.

7.  Check your list twice!
When starting your shopping early, you'll want to develop a discrete system or list for logging your purchases.  I failed to do so one year and when I started wrapping, discovered I had bought one of my nephews about three years worth of presents!  Your list will also serve to keep you on track for what to keep your eye out for.

8. Select your holiday cards early!
If it can be done ahead of time, do it!  Whether you plan to send holiday Christmas cards this year, or photo holiday cards, you will appreciate the benefits of selecting and preparing them early.  Avoid the frenzy and take your time perusing all the great designs available, finding the perfect fit for your family's holiday greetings.

9.   Get your whole crew involved!
My children love having an opportunity to share their creative sides.  As soon as we receive our selected Christmas cards, when my kids have a long weekend or half days at school, they love to lend a hand with addressing cards, signing their names, and adding personal artwork to cards for extra special people, like Grandma and Grandpa.  By starting early, we send much more personal holiday greetings to friends and family because we aren't rushing to just get it done!

10.  Don't wait to pick your dates!
Again, as the one family member with an unforgiving holiday schedule, I've learned to speak up early, with suggestions for all of our many family gatherings. Not only do I offer dates that I will be able to attend, they are carefully selected in a spread out fashion so my family and I will enjoy each others company, rather than treating them to my cranky, tired side.

These tips work fabulously for my family, however every family's holiday experiences, ups and down are different.  What works best for your family in pre-planning for a pleasant and merry holiday season?  I'd love to hear your comments below!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.  Images sourced from Storkie.  Gift Image.


Pam said...

Those are good tips. I use several of these myself. I need to implement some more of these too.

Tina Peterson said...

Hi! I'm following you from the Social Media giveaway and would love a follow back when you have time.

Each weekend I have a Fall Themed Blog Hop and Giveaway Linky and you are welcome to join us. It's every Fri-Sun.

Thanks! Tina "The Book Lady"

Emmi said...

starting with a budget always works for me. We have an account where we put a little money each month for our christmas fund. That keeps me from overspending! =)

April said...

Great tips! I usually have all of my shopping done by the end of November!

koupon krazed said...

I love the tips! I try to stay organized and shop throughout the year. It definitly helps on your budget!

SocialStudiesSoubrette said...

Ooh I garnered a few great tips from that list. Doing good on about half of it though. Thanks so much for sharing!

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