The holidays can be a wonderful(ly stressful) time of year! There’s family to connect with, decorations to put up, and gifts to arrange. Holiday plans have so many moving parts–how are you supposed to keep track of everything? Plan, plan, plan!
No one enjoys panic-shopping the night before gift exchanges. Everything’s out of stock, you’re in a rush to find the perfect item, and holiday prices are hiked high. Or think back to a time when you and your family made last-minute holiday plans. Is your blood pressure going up? The solution is simple (if not always easy): start early.
If you want to see your family in December, look at tickets a few months beforehand. If it’s refundable, there’s no harm in grabbing that flight early. It’s a lot less expensive, too!
Keep an eye out year-round for gift ideas. Jot them down in a dedicated list, even if it’s June! You don’t need to go out and buy the gift right away, especially if you live in a smaller space that doesn’t have room to store presents for months. But it’s nice to have ideas down on paper, in an app, or in a spreadsheet, so when it comes time to shop, you know what to get. When you do shop, be sure to allow for shipping delays.
Who’s hosting? Who’s sleeping where? Does anyone need to book a hotel? Ask yourself questions like these in August or September, and you’ll thank yourself in December. If you’re not sure where to start, think about last year. Was there anything you scrambled to get done in time? How could you plan for this year to go more smoothly?
You don’t have to have your entire holiday schedule planned to the minute, though. Getting everyone on the same page is important, but planning for things to change is also an important part of reducing holiday stress. If your plans start to look like this, you may have gone too far.
Share lists with family
Who are the “planners” in your family or friend group? If you have people in your life who already plan in advance, coordinate with them! Keep them in the loop when planning your holiday, so you can make sure the plans work together.
Let those who don’t like to plan know that their input is welcome anytime.
There’s a difference between planning and micromanaging, and that’s the ability to be flexible. Remember to include other people’s ideas—the plans you’re making don’t exist in a vacuum. You’re making them so you can enjoy the season and spend time with people you love. You may like to wake up at dawn on Christmas day to do presents, but not everyone is an early bird. Listen to what others want to do, and accommodate them when you can.
This year, it’s possible your favorite product might not be on the shelves, so you may need to make substitutions. If you can’t find the cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving’s not ruined. Make your own, try something new like banana ketchup, or go without and know that the important thing is being together, not Ocean Spray.
I especially want to embrace the idea of being flexible. Remember the why of the holiday and the rest will fall in.
Great tips! Planning is so important! We just purchased tickets for an outdoor light show event in a botanical garden near us. With a quick call and a few texts to everyone, we scheduled it and bought the tickets now before the holidays even start. Now we are ready for our event! Yay!
Great job, Sabrina! That sounds super fun : )
Planning is as important as the flexibility piece. And you highlit both of those. We have enough stress without making the holidays even more stressful. I had never heard of banana ketchup before. How interesting!
I keep hearing how there will be or ARE shortages for so many things. I’m not sure how that might translate into the things I plan on cooking and baking for Thanksgiving, but I appreciate the extra mention you gave this about being flexible and understanding. As you said, it’s with your loved ones that is the most important. Everything else has a way of working out.
In my family planning really helps cut down on the number of questions I have to answer. Once the plan is made people and work with it on their own timeline. I do find that I can do planning early anymore because schedules change and unforeseen things happen. Now my plan is who is hosting, who is coming and when. After that is discussed flexibility is the key to success.
Sometimes I’m really grateful that a) I don’t celebrate Christmas, b) my family is tiny, and c) there are no children in the family, if only because it cuts down so much on expectations and frustrations. (Thanksgiving together, Hanukkah apart, with a focus on food and shared experiences, rather than gifts, makes our lives so much easier.) But yes, I can’t imagine how anyone survives the season without smart planning in place. And I love your cartoon murder board for handling the holidays! Too cool!
Thanks for the compliment, Julie! 😀