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Monday, December 3, 2012

organize your holiday

It's so busy this time of year that it's hard to keep things organized, yet the more organized you are I swear the happier and less stressed you'll be during the holiday season. I wrote a post earlier last month about how to stay organized ahead of the game. Now these are some tips for staying organized in the thick of it with 3 weeks left until Christmas! So try these tips for keeping things - mostly your brain - in order! 

More organized may mean more sleep ... try it!

1. UPDATE ADDRESSES - Keep envelopes from those who send you Christmas cards so you can update your address book with their new addresses.

2. CARDS LIST - Keep a list of who you send Christmas cards to so you know if you need to send one to someone else as cards come in the mail.

3. WRAP LIKE GIFTS TOGETHER - When you wrap gifts put them into piles and then ultimately into bags of places they are going. For example, we go to my mom's house and we go to my husband's parents' house, so I have two separate bags for the gifts that go to those places. These gifts don't go under our tree because they won't be opened at our house anyway. It makes things SO much easier when Christmas does come and it's time to take gifts out of the house on Christmas morning.

4. TOTE BAGS FOR GIFTS -  Take large tote bags to the houses where you will be opening gifts for your kids so you can put them in the tote bags to take home. At my in-laws' house there are 5 kids, 2 on the way, so 7 child-like gifts all over the place, being opened at once and thrown aside because the kids want to move on to the next toy. It's mayhem - fun though for sure! My husband and I tried last year to grab the gifts from our toddler quickly and put into a plastic bag to make sure we took them home, but it was chaotic. This year I'm going in with tote bags - big LL Bean ones with my kids' names on them that we use for traveling. I'm hoping this will be easier.

5. CALENDAR WHITE BOARD - This is a must this time of year especially with all the holiday parties, yankee swaps, church events, concerts, etc. Update it every week.

6. EXTRA CARDS AND STAMPS - Keep extra blank Christmas cards and stamps around the house just in case someone stops by with an unexpected gift or sends you a card but you forgot to put them on your list. It's the thought that counts, not always being on top of your game the first time around!

7. QUICK MEALS - Have something on hand at all times for quick meals - homemade dishes you stuck in the freezer; spaghetti and sauce; frozen pizza, etc. Have something you can whip up on your way off to a concert or parade so you aren't stuck running through the drive through every time.

8. STAY REALISTIC - Don't pressure yourself to do it all. Say no. Cut back. It's OK to wrap gifts tonight instead of do 3 loads of laundry. Laundry can wait until tomorrow or even the weekend. Do what works, and that will help you stay organized.

9. DIVIDE AND CONQUER - Ask for help from your partner. My husband is in charge of our Elf on the Shelf. I said I just cannot take on one more thing right now and he's LOVING doing it every day, so there you go! Ask your kids to help out if they're old enough. They can wrap gifts, put stamps on Christmas cards, seal envelopes, put their laundry away, etc.

10. SCHEDULE DOWN TIME -It's so busy this time of year that yes, unfortunately, sometimes you have to SCHEDULE in your down time. Make a rule of doing nothing on Sunday afternoons or Wednesday evenings. Make it a rule that you can wrap gifts and do other chores until 8 p.m. on week nights and then after that you're relaxing on the couch watching holiday shows or eating popcorn or doing nothing at all. You need to relax in order to keep it together this season. Remember it's OK to take time off.

11. LISTS - You MUST have lists for everything. Write down the gifts you still need to get, the ones you already purchased so you don't end up purchasing again, what supplies you need like tape or wrapping paper, when the parties are going to be and what you said you'd bring for food, etc. Keep lists on the fridge, in your purse, on your computer desk at work, wherever it'll help you remember what you have to get and by when.

12. STICK TO YOUR KIDS' ROUTINES - Don't avoid their naps just because that's when your friend is visiting Santa. Babies need routine, they thrive off of it. Kids like to know what to expect. All goes haywire when we forget to feed them and have them well rested, and they end up sick, too. So stick to what works for your family. It'll keep you more organized and less stressed, for sure.

Try a few of these things and I swear you'll be enjoying more and stressing less. 

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