As the holiday busy season builds to its climax, I wanted to share my tips for remaining calm and profitable with an organized Christmas approach. While it may be too late for you to adopt all of these ideas this year, mark this article and revisit it in September of next year. Here’s what’s working for me…
1. Use a shopping app on your smart phone.
This has literally changed the way I shop and budget for the holidays! I use The Christmas List, an app for my iphone. It’s under $2 and so worth it! Here’s how it works.
I list all of the family and friends I plan to buy gifts for. Under their names I list what I want to buy or am considering. I also add the approximate price of the item, as well as where I plan to look for it.
This does two thing for me. First, it generates a list of stores (online and offline) that I need to visit and what I need to look for at each of these stores. Second, it generates the amount I’m spending on each person.
As I buy something, I move it from possible to purchased and now I can see a running total as I shop. There’s also check boxes for what’s wrapped, shipped, and received, so that I can track my hundreds of boxes from Amazon. 🙂
As a final goodie, you can archive your shopping and buying lists from one year to the next, so it’s super fast to reorder or look again for what they wanted before.
The only thing I would change about this app is adding the clothing sizes to each person’s name. But that function may be in there but I just haven’t discovered it yet!
Regardless of whether or not you use this particular app (I look at a lot before settling on this one last year), I definitely recommend you use one. It takes you a long way to a more organized Christmas.
2. Use standard menus and shopping lists.
Our family fixes the same meal each year as our traditional holiday feast. And while it may be turkey or ham, both have the same side dishes, with possibly one or two new additions each year. (This year my granddaughers fixed Monkey Bread as their first contribution to the family meal.)
With the same menu, it’s super simple to generate the shopping list. We’ve had to update it over the years as we’ve added more family members and little appetites have transitioned into teenage hunger monsters. However, we keep the latest shopping list in a Word document. Whoever last hosted the meal has the master and passes it on to the next person who will be shopping. It saves a lot of time!
3. Set up a wrapping station.
We have an adjustable height table that is the same height as the kitchen counter, so we add it next to the breakfast bar, starting about December 10th. On the table you’ll find scissors, tape, and nametags. Other than that, we try to keep the table clear. Under the table you’ll find rolls of paper, bags of gift bags, an assortment of boxes, and boxes of recycled bows (can’t remember the last time we bought bows!)
As gifts arrive in the house, you can go directly to the wrapping table and everything you need is there. For the marathon wrapping session the last day before everyone arrives, the height of the table saves your back! This has definitely been a worthwhile investment. (We used a table top from one of my favorite restaurants and added adjustable height legs from ikea.) And as the party begins, the table stays in place for added serving and preparation space in the kitchen!
4. Shop online.
Before the Internet (yes, there was such a time), I spent most late evenings at stores, trying to get all the shopping done – after working a full day as a college administrator and a full evening attending graduate school. By the time Christmas arrived, I was exhausted!
Now with my shopping app next to me, I shop online. That also means I can take advantage of great deals, like those currently happening on Amazon. For example, this week they are featuring flash discounts on Disney items on December 11, with sports discounts on December 12. Every day there is a different discount category, plus plenty of other special deals!
It’s also a good idea to sign up for Amazon Prime. You can start with a trial if you like. Personally it saves me tons on shipping costs year-round, plus there are books and movies all year long, too!
While I may still take a trip or two to the mall (it’s 3 minutes away), I’m no longer stressed about HAVING to find that special something. Now mall shopping is just for the little fun things you see.
5. Automate your work.
Because we are all in business online, we can’t ignore our own business while we are shopping and cooking and enjoying family and friends. But you also don’t want to be tied to your computer during this time of year. So batch your work and schedule it for automated profits.
Write a series of emails to your list, then go ahead and load and schedule them to go out while you’re baking cookies.
Schedule basic social media posts to go out without you present, so that when you do have time to check in on social media, you can relax and respond to others’ posts.
Use this time for thinking and jotting down notes (use your audio app) about what you want to do – after the holidays.
But for now – enjoy yourself and your loved ones!
Share YOUR tips for an organized holiday in the comments below. I’d love to hear how you manage it all!
Jeanette, I needed to read about the APP at the BEGINNING of the season. Wow! I’m download it now and will keep it for future use. It has everything I need. Hopefully it will help me NOT to forget presents I left hidden. Sometimes I find the hidden presents in July and wonder how I forgot them!
I also like the shopping list. We have a pretty standard menu as well. Although every year I do try to mix it up with something different. Having a standardized menu makes much more sense.
Enjoy the rest of your relaxed Christmas prep!!