I have been told, many many times, that I am a “planner”.
I need my planning skills to keep me sane during the holiday season. My husband and I have four young children. I consider myself the CEO of the household details. There are times when I need to focus on and plan for 5 or 6 people. Here are some of my tips and tricks I use during the holidays.
I have a designated spiral notebook that is strictly for master lists. I have made over the years, lists for several occasions. They include favorite family dinner options, vacation packing, birthday party plans, and holidays. I did an absolute “brain dump” on these topics and wrote these lists down. When the time comes, I can refer to these lists and not have to start from scratch. I add things when I learn something new. My kids are still growing and our needs change. I may not need everything on the list at that exact moment, but I am confident in knowing that I won’t forget anything I definitely need.
For the holidays I have a master list of typical Christmas activities we would like to do and attend. This way, I make sure my calendar is up to date. I have a list of typical ingredients I buy every year from cookies, meals, and kid snacks. I have these notes as reference for myself. I usually jot down some items and keep a list in my purse to buy them as I go, and refer to them while shopping so I don’t forget anything. They are simply reminders and I would be lost without them.
WRITE CHRISTMAS CARDS
We still send old fashioned Christmas cards made out by me in the snail mail. This is a major job, since we are blessed, and our list of people we would like to send to gets longer and longer every year. I write a message and sign all family members name by hand. I am unable to fill out all the cards in one sitting. So, I break up this task into smaller chunks. I usually do a couple a night after the kids have gone to bed. I can get more done if I sit and watch a Christmas movie all cozy under a blanket!!!!!
Along the same lines of the Christmas cards, I try and make out some lunch notes for my son (only one in school full day) ahead of time. When more children are in school, this will benefit me even more. I use the quiet time at night to jot a quick note to him and have it at the ready when I am packing his lunch the night before. When I am making his lunch, it is too chaotic for me to think and take time to write a note. These notes may be as simple as telling him how much he is loved, a joke, or even a teachable moment.
KID TREAT BAGS/TEACHER GIFTS
If there is one thing that I pick to do early, it is treat bags and gifts. After I accumulate the items needed for the presents, I have the kids help me put them together and set them aside. If it is not perishable, they can sit and wait till they are needed. These are not “time-sensitive” items that can be crossed off the list.
FREEZE BAKED GOODS
Starting around Thanksgiving, I start my baking. As previously mentioned, I make certain favorite recipes every year. I refer to my list, and see which ones can be done early and frozen. This helps me spread out the baking in between my busy daily schedule. I’m not stressed at the end of the month because I started early. Some days are better than others. If my schedule does not allow for extra baking, it is ok because I have been spreading it out for over a month. It is a nice cushion for time.
WRAP AS YOU GO
This may or may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. I know a lot of people who want to do all their wrapping in one sitting. You have to drag all your supplies and gifts out only once instead of multiple times. However, as I said before, my children are still at a young age and need me. I rarely get projects done from start to finish. This is the only way I can get the wrapping done. You would be surprised how many gifts you can wrap in a short amount of time.
IRON HOLIDAY OUTFITS
Another easy task you can cross off the list is ironing. I go through their holiday hand me downs and new purchases. We have school events, concerts, functions, family photos, church services, and family parties. That’s a lot to organize for 5 people!!!! I usually iron while watching television at night. They get hung up and are ready to go when needed.
PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED
I have learned over the years to have extra things packed. I typically take a complete change of clothes for each kid and leave it in the car if we need it. Anything can happen from spills, illness, car sickness, overeating, falls, and much more. Believe me, it happens, and then I am grateful that I am a “planner”. It’s even possible that you might be able to help out a cousin or friend!
I do like throwing in the diaper bag, a seasonal sleeper. This is so easy, it is a whole outfit in one piece. This can be used for accidents or even if the party lasts longer than anticipated. Your little one can be changed into their pajamas for the ride home.
STOCK UP ON ITEMS
I think this one is genius! Keep track of everyday items you have in the house. For example, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, feminine products, diapers, wipes, etc. While shopping, you might want to purchase a back up of these items. The last thing you want to do is face the last minute shoppers for some diapers!
If you made it to the end, thank you! The last one is my favorite tip of all.
DIVIDED GIFT BAGS
While shopping, throughout the year, if I see a good sale, reduced item, or a real gem, I buy it. I tend to bargain hunt. I have gifts bought early for all the holidays and birthdays. When it comes to Christmas, I have stuff piled away. Four kids presents and stocking stuffers can get confusing. I came up with a solution that works for me. I buy from the Dollar Tree (reuse if they are useable) their giant gift bags. I buy one for each kid. That way, I can divide up my purchases early in the season and see who has what and who I need to focus on. Plus, this provides organization during the shopping season. After I purchase an item, it goes straight in their bag. Then when I use the above mentioned tip of wrapping as I go, I can grab one bag at a time.
I hope you found these tips and tricks helpful. Is there any that I missed? Please leave me a comment below. I hope you and your family have a truly Merry Christmas season and a Happy New Year!