First Day of Stress-less Christmas: Plan Ahead

Yesterday I told you of my quest this year to truly achieve a less stressed and more joyful holiday.  I feel like I’ve made strides in getting there and I still have some improvements to make.  The first thing I did to get better at this whole holiday thing?  Plan ahead.  I am a huge advocate of planning.    The fact is you will never be able to avoid all the holiday stress – but you can avoid so much by planning ahead.  I try to think of things that I can get done (or at least get a head-start on) before Thanksgiving because I know that once we’re into December, it’s a holiday free-for-all. 

  • Holiday Cards:  This year, I tried the DIY approach.  In years’ past, to save my sanity, I have counted on Nicki Pardo’s 10 minute family photo sessions for a quick, easy and beautiful photo for our card.  Check out Sheehan’s own Courtney Wager and her beautiful work with families.  Minted and Shutterfly have made card-making easier than ever.  It’s worth the effort to spend one year uploading your addresses into one of those sites too.  I aim for sometime before Thanksgiving for the card – but there’s still time.  And people love receiving New Year’s Cards too.
  • Gift List:  My ritual is to update my Gift Giving excel spreadsheet on November 1st every year.  It includes budget, last year’s gift and ideas for this year.  Everyone has a method that works for them.  My sister likes her low tech envelope approach:  all gifts/recipients written on an envelope and she tucks the receipts inside while she shops.  There is a Christmas Planner app that gets great reviews (pretty much my spreadsheet, but in an app).  
  • Inventory:  With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, this is the week that you need to do your inventory.  With so much shopping done online now, all those packages come to your house and you just stick them in the attic unopened, right?  Good idea to open them up and make sure LL Bean really sent you Aunt Sally’s sweater – and not size 13 slippers by mistake. 
  • Shipping:  We have quite a few relatives who live out of state so let’s raise a holiday toast to Amazon Prime!  But for those carefully curated packages that must be shipped from the post office, check your deadlines and get there as early as you can.  We also love the after-hours drop box.  You can read all the guidelines for USPS holiday shipping here.
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This first tip in the series of the Twelve Days of Stressless Christmas is an elementary one.  Many of us have this down.  There has been a public uproar over “Christmas Creep” as retailers seem to be decorating and merchandising for the holidays earlier and earlier each year.  However, I believe that much of that is due to consumer demand: women who are busier than ever, who have no choice but to plan and shop earlier.  And remember, even if you haven’t had a planful approach, it’s not too late to start.