Big projects are always less daunting when you plan out individual tasks, group them into small and manageable lists, and do a little each day, rather than cramming it all in as your deadline approaches. The holidays are no different. We went through our biggest stresses of the holidays and made a checklist of ‘Do Nows’ for November that will enable you to de-stress and truly enjoy your holidays this year.
Gift-buying plan. Make a budget and write down specific gift ideas for each person on your list. Much of the stress in holiday giving comes from not having great gift ideas, aimlessly—and often fruitlessly—shopping, and overspending to compensate. Carve out a few hours of quiet time to sit down and really think about what each person on your list might appreciate, where you need to shop, and how much you intend to spend.
Start shopping! Once you have your detailed list in hand, you can be methodical about when and where you shop and leverage routine errand runs to get it all done. If you were to pick up at least one gift each day starting now, you could be done shopping by Thanksgiving. For motivation, think: no endlessly circling mall parking lots or standing in long lines in overheated stores. Other benefits of shopping early: you have plenty of time to research prices and are more likely to find sizes and other specs you need. You will also get to enjoy the entire Thanksgiving weekend relaxing, eating pie for breakfast, and maybe wrapping a few gifts. Bonus tip: if you have kids and are not cooking for Thanksgiving, make a date with your S.O. for a dinner out and toy shopping on Thanksgiving Eve when the stores are filled—literally to the ceiling—with inventory and virtually empty of other customers.
Cooking/baking. Consider organizing a baked-goods swap with friends—everyone makes a large batch of one specialty and all share—or do some quick research into what can be made well ahead of time and freeze well for pure holiday enjoyment. If you are cooking a big holiday feast, now is the time to do some serious research and planning of menus, shopping lists, and logistics so you can get everything onto the table hot without leaving a huge mess in your kitchen. You can take a look at our checklist from last year here.
Hosting out-of-town guests. If guests will be staying in your home for the holidays, plan out all the major details: sleeping arrangements, menus for each meal, accommodations for bathing and laundry, child-proofing, and any other ways you can make your guests feel comfortable and welcome.
Entertaining. Pick party dates now and coordinate with friends and relatives to avoid conflicts. Don’t forget to make contingency plans for common holiday-party risks, such as inclement weather, sick kids, and unforeseeable household disasters such as clogged pipes and malfunctioning appliances. To maximize your own enjoyment of holiday entertaining, consider outsourcing such tasks as cleaning, serving, even decorating, and book those professionals now before the big holiday rush!