"I hate Christmas -- well, not really. I just hate all the stuff I am forced to do."
I have not been able to shake that conversation from my psyche.
Each year, I watch the craziness and the hustle. I see the anger. I hear nasty, grumpy comments by people who generally are easy-going.
People pushing, swearing, rushing, yelling. No wonder she hates Christmas.
I LOVE Christmas. I love what it represents on so many levels. To me the best part of Christmas is family. It is a time to be with family without feeling rushed. It is a time to express our love to our family through giving of gifts, time and ourselves in various ways.
My three-year-old grandson nailed it when he said, "Mommy, isn't it great that we get gifts on Jesus birthday?" That is the true meaning of Christmas and the reason we celebrate. He was thrilled that we actually get gifts on someone else's birthday!
But for many, it has become an obligation. We feel we MUST see members of our family we don't even like. We MUST buy gifts for people we don't want to. We MUST decorate the house and make the perfect meal and try to out-do our neighbors. The list goes on.
I would like to share a few ideas to make your life a wee bit easier this time of year. It is called.......wait for it.......it's a nasty word.....O R G A N I Z A T I O N.
I cannot remember the last time I have been rushed, frustrated or dreaded any part of this holiday. I promise you that if you heed just a few simple tips, it will make your next Christmas a lot more pleasant and relaxed.
1. SHOP EARLY. I know many people like to wait for Black Friday sales or the week before Christmas sales. However, there are just as many bargains throughout the year. Christmas in July sales are fabulous. This is the time of year I buy the larger, more expensive gifts. Even if you put them on a credit card, they will be paid off before Christmas.
2. WRAP JUST AS EARLY. When I started doing this a few years ago, I found it so exciting at Christmas. As soon as I buy a gift, no matter what time of year, I wrap it immediately. I will keep a list of what I bought just in case I have to refer to it later in the year. But, usually I forget what I bought until the recipient opens the gift and it is so much fun - especially when it is exactly what they were hoping for and I took the time to find the perfect gift without the rush of the season.
3. BAKE EARLY. Try to have your baking done by mid November and in the freezer. These can even be wrapped as gifts and put in the freezer in large zip-loc bags.
5. CHRISTMAS CARDS. If you are one of those people who mail Christmas cards, blessings on you. I haven't done this in years but when I did, I usually did them a couple months before, stamped them and mailed them out about three weeks before Christmas.
6. DECORATIONS. This is one area where many of you will have traditions. Maybe you decorate as a family three weeks before or.....???? If you don't have a tradition, maybe you should consider starting one. This should be an enjoyable time for the whole family instead of a stressful one but will need some advance planning.
7. MEAL PREPARATION.
B. Set the table two to three days in advance. Not only is this smart but also lovely to look at for a couple days.
C. Prep your dinner the day before. Refrigerators are great appliances for keeping things fresh and ready for the big day.
8. GIFT YOURSELF WITH SOMEONE TO CLEAN YOUR HOUSE. If you can afford to splurge a little, hire someone to clean your house the day or two before. This is a huge stress reliever.
9. BE CREATIVE. If you are one of those gifted, talented people who make Christmas gifts, start in the lazy winter months of January and February. And, yes, wrap them as well. What a wonderful start to your organized Christmas.
10. PREPARE YOUR PETS. We have a lot of them and put them in another room during the meal but enjoy their antics the rest of the time. Think ahead as to how you want to handle it and make sure they are comfortable and not stressed.
I know there are many of you who are far more organized than I am. Do you have any tips you can add to the list? Would love to hear them and will implement them for 2015!
Oh, and P. S. If you want to read a hilarious story about handling stress....go here.
Photos courtesy of growchew.wordpress.com, thegoodlifegirl.com, christmastree-shops.com, pidhs.com, theorganizedhousewife.com, countrysoldier.org, mix97.com