Proper planning is essential for relieving both stress and expense during the holiday season. Don’t rely on memory, write everything down. The small amount of time you spend on planning will more than pay for itself in the long run. One trip to the store instead of two will save money, as well as time.
Prepare a special journal specifically for your Christmas planning needs. A small spiral bound notebook works just fine. Another option is to create a Christmas planner using Excel. You can use this to keep track of everything you need to do, buy and make. Start with a list of everyone you plan to present a gift. Leave a few spaces between names to add gift ideas as they come to you. As you complete each task make sure to reward yourself with a check mark or star. I like to give myself stick-on gold stars for a feeling of real accomplishment. This creates a good reference point for how much you have accomplished as Christmas draws closer and helps alleviate the stress caused by wondering what you may have forgotten.
Additional Elements of Planning
Plan for decorating. Pick a day to do your holiday decorating. Will you need to purchase any new ornaments for the tree or replacement light bulbs? Do you have staples for the staple gun? A little time spent analyzing your needs will save you time, money and stress. Anything you will need to purchase should go on your holiday shopping list to avoid multiple trips to the store.
Plan for gift wrapping. Check your stock of left over paper, bows, ribbon, bags, tape and gift tags. Check your gift list to see what you need to add to your shopping list. While you’re at it you may decide to make your own gift tags or Christmas wrapping.
Plan your homemade gifts. If you will be making homemade gifts be sure to list any items that need to be purchased for your projects. Homemade gifts can be a great way to save money. Rely on your personal skills for most homemade items. If you already know how to knit or sew, then a scarf or tote bag could be the perfect gift. However, trying to learn how to knit a scarf the week before Christmas is just begging for undue stress.
Now that you have your shopping list prepared, identify the stores in which you will be shopping. Plan your driving route to spend less time in traffic, while keeping in mind that you will want to visit the least expensive stores first. I always begin with the dollar store. You may find anything from replacement bulbs and batteries to the perfect gift box or novelty toy. It’s possible you might even get to skip the trip to the hardware store.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
Take a few minutes to reward yourself for a job well done. You don’t have to wait until everything is complete to spend 20 minutes in a hot bath with a cup of Epsom salt and a scented candle. You could also reward yourself with a relaxing homemade foot soak after a long day of shopping.