In exactly ONE week, many of you will be waking up to giggling children excitedly looking under the tree, a hot cup of coffee or cocoa with loved ones, or hurried preparations for the arrival of anticipated company. Depending on what you do in the days leading up to Christmas (or whatever day you celebrate), you could experience an irritable rush of anxiety or an easy-going last minute prep-time. Consider these simple things that will save you time in the long run!
One Week Before (today): Sit down and make a list, or find the lists you made before and check them twice. Here’s what you need to cover: gifts that need to be bought, people coming to visit, chores that need to be completed, and food that needs to be cooked. Look at your calendar for larger blocks of time, considering where you’ll fit in those shopping trips or baking sprees.
6 Days ‘til Christmas: Simplify! Think about what you can do to reduce the list. Delegate chores to your spouse or children. Consider hiring a friend, family member or neighborhood teen to clean your home or wrap your presents, or watch your children while you do so. Look also for areas that can be cut. Unless you enjoy it, don’t bake! You can buy treats that are tasty and beautiful. If you enjoy baking but are strapped for time, try mixing up one basic dough that can translate into many types of cookies.
5 Days ‘til Christmas: This is likely the day you’ll be shopping (Saturday). Give yourself lots of extra time, as stores will be crowded. Check your pantries before you leave and make a detailed list of what you might need. While you’re out, pick up a few extra gifts, in case you need them: a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, a coffee mug, or gift cards. If you realize at the last minute that you forgot a gift, you’ll have something on hand.
4 Days ‘til Christmas: Whatever you’re making for dinner, make double. You won’t have to cook on Monday night, which will free up some time for your other needs, or give you time to relax. Review your lists and complete one task. Remember to concentrate on one job at a time instead of trying to multitask. You will save time in the long run and be more productive.
3 Days ‘til Christmas: Do some prep work in the kitchen. Clean and chop veggies for all of your dishes. Mix up that casserole for Christmas dinner. As long as it doesn’t have raw meat or eggs, it should be fine to refrigerate. Whatever you’re making for dinner, make double so you won’t have to cook on Christmas Eve.
2 Days ‘til Christmas: Look through your closets, in the basement, and in all your hiding places to make sure you haven’t forgotten any presents. Finish all the wrapping and baking. Deliver gifts to neighbors if that is part of your tradition (but it’s also okay if you cut that this year), so that you don’t interfere with their family events.
1 Day ‘til Christmas: Rally the troops for a bit of focused cleaning. Give specific chores and work hard together to get the house in shape. This isn’t the time to clean the baseboards or organize closets; simply straighten, dust, vacuum, and wipe down bathrooms. Let go of perfection and move on to an enjoyable tradition, such as looking at lights, reading the Christmas story, or having a cup of cocoa together in your new pajamas.
Christmas Day: Relax and enjoy the day! If you’re stressed about your gathering, make certain that you have at least 15 minutes before it begins to be quiet by yourself (even if you have to get up early). Take that time to meditate, journal, pray, or make a list of things for which you are grateful. Refocus and purpose yourself to focus on the positive in every person and every moment. Make memories, take pictures, eat, drink, and be merry!