My 6 Favorite Holiday Tips
Are you reading this by a warm fire, next to your perfectly-decorated tree, with organic artisanal hot cocoa in hand, and with your to-do list complete? No? For the record, I’m not either. Client projects to finish before the holidays + holiday prep + holiday activities + all. the. things. = a really busy month! So, without further ado, here are my favorite tips for simplifying the hectic holidays:
Take an hour or two to go through toys BEFORE gifts are given.
Trust me here—when you’re looking for places to put the new toys, you will be so glad you took the time to do this. Get two bags, or boxes, and use one for trash and one for donations. Go through your playroom, kids’ bedrooms, or wherever toys are kept, and pull out anything that they no longer play with. If it’s a game or puzzle that’s missing pieces, or anything that is broken or missing key parts, toss it. (And get that bag out of the house ASAP before little hands go through it!) If someone else could love and treasure it, donate it. I like to involve my kids in choosing things to donate, because I think it teaches good life lessons. But the most important thing is to get it done, so do what works for your family—whether it’s having them help or doing it after they’re in bed under the cover of darkness! Drop off those donations or schedule a pick-up so they don’t become a permanent part of your basement or garage. Do it this weekend, and thank yourself later!
Take a few minutes to clean out your pantry and fridge.
Soon enough you’ll have of all kinds of extra food for the holidays. Instead of cramming it into an already full fridge, freezer, or pantry, do a little cleaning out now and create some space. The cereal that nobody liked, the chips that are now stale—reclaim that space! There’s bound to be 15 minutes of time here and there while you’re waiting for dinner to cook, or in between kids’ buses, etc. and that really is all it takes for a quick clean out.
As a bonus, you may realize that you already have sprinkles for cookie decorating and there's no need to buy more!
Set up a gift wrap station, skip the gift tags, grab a friend, make it fun.
There’s obviously no right or wrong way to get your presents wrapped, but here are a few ideas:
Set up a folding table, or use your dining room table, and gather wrapping paper, ribbon, scissors, tape—you get the idea—so anyone can quickly wrap a gift without searching for supplies. Leave it out until gift wrapping is done.
Or—save all of your wrapping for one night. Pour your beverage of choice, and put on a Christmas movie or show to binge watch while you wrap. Maybe even make a night of it, and invite a friend or two and wrap together.
If there are people you wrap multiple presents for, like kids, you can designate wrapping paper for each and skip gift tags entirely. This may even keep little ones from snooping…
Purge your decorations as you decorate (or take things down).
Over the years you may have accumulated decorations that you don’t love, or that don’t work in your current home, or have gotten worn out. If you don’t use them, don’t keep storing them! This year, as you’re unpacking or repacking those decorations, set aside anything you didn’t use. Toss what's worn out, and pass on things in good shape to someone else who will love them. You’ll have less to store all year long and less to go through as you decorate.
Utilize your freezer, and prep in advance.
The freezer is your best friend for holiday food prep. Cookie dough can be mixed, shaped into cookies, and frozen for you to pull out and bake whenever you have time. It also means that you can have fresh baked cookies often instead of one big batch that sits for a week, getting stale. Lots of other foods freeze well too—if there's a batch of chili in your freezer, you have a really quick dinner for a busy night!
Buy a multi pack of small denomination gift cards.
These gift cards should be for places with mass appeal (Amazon, Dunkin’ Donuts, Target) so that they work for just about anyone. The key is to keep them on hand, so that when you realize it’s the last dance class before winter break and you need a gift ASAP, you don’t have to make an extra trip to the store. Yes, in an ideal world you would know all your recipients personally and know just the right thing to get, but since that’s likely not the case for the bus driver or the assistant basketball coach—gift cards to the rescue! Bonus points if you package it with a little bag of homemade cookies—because you’ll have dough stashed in your freezer, right?!?!
Worried that you won’t need what you bought? If they’re for Amazon or Target you can just use anything left over for your own regular shopping—or your own coffee break!
I hope these tips help you save a little time this holiday season, so that you spend less time running around and more time with the people you love. Cheers!