Written by Debra Wyatt (last updated December 18, 2018)
I start the Christmas season with a plan. This takes a little bit of time for the planning, but I find that I am hours ahead with a plan of action in hand. When I start planning ahead I find that I stay organized and my stress is cut dramatically. I am happier as well as those around me.
To get started, all I do is gather some paper, pencil, pen, and calendar. I put all this into a binder. It is all in one place so I will know where to find it later when I need it. I list on a sheet of paper everything that I can think of that needs attention. Here are some common stress areas that typically need my attention: decorating, mailing cards, parties, cleaning the house, parties to go to, parties to give, mailing presents, wrapping presents, and seeing Christmas lights.
As I look at my December calendar, I pick one area that I am most stressed about. I then pencil in the dates on the calendar, indicating what it is that needs to be done. I start by placing all my social activities on the calendar. This is the time to put down all invites to parties, dinners, and children's activities such as the school play. I write all this in pencil so that I can make adjustments easily.
If I have too many activities listed on one day, I look to see if they can be changed around or prioritized in some way. As an example, if the activities I have listed for one day include baking cookies, mailing presents, and attending a school program, I may want to change baking cookies to another day.
Looking at my list, the first thing that I wrote down on paper may have been Christmas gifts. I write down the person's name, gift idea, and how much I am willing to spend for the gift. I do this for all those I am buying for. Looking at my Christmas shopping list, I ask myself if it is something that will take one or two days of shopping. I try very hard to limit the amount of shopping at the mall to a single trip. This saves on impulse buying which can ruin my Christmas budget in a hurry.
I also put the shopping trips on the calendar as early in the season as I can. I try to not put so much shopping into the shopping day (or days) that when I get home I am too tired to wrap the gifts. Wrapping the gifts on the same day will take away the frustration on Christmas Eve.
Now I go through this same process with all the activities written on the calendar. This is the time that I have to look at my calendar and be objective, and not be afraid to take something off the calendar that will lead to being stressed. When the calendar is complete, I now have a plan of action and (amazingly) I am more organized and on my way to a happier, stress-free Christmas.
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