For many, myself included, the holidays can be a stressful time. There is so much I want to do and enjoy, and just a few short weeks in which to accomplish it all. Sometimes it's hard to pack it all in before the actual holiday, you know?
Staying organized is key. By setting priorities and sticking to a time frame and budget, it is possible to have a fun and relaxed holiday season. Martha has several tips and tricks for staying organized during the holidays. She even has a handy-dandy holiday checklist here.
In addition to Martha's tips for staying organized and sane for the holidays, let me add my own:
Priorities--This is the biggest and best tip I can give anyone planning for the best holiday ever: only do the holiday activities that bring you joy and happiness, and let the rest go. Do you feel like you have to send out Christmas cards, but truly hate to do it? Then don't do it! Does your fantasy Christmas involve a house bedecked with lights, but you don't have the time or energy to get it done? You can always ask for help, or just decide that this is one task that can wait for next year. There can be a big difference between what you think Christmas should be (and based on magazines, store displays, etc. there's a lot we absolutely must have) and what you actually want. Go with what makes you happy and disregard the rest of the hoopla.
Gift giving--I make a spreadsheet in Excel of who, what, where and how much. This list is king and really helps me stick to my budget. When a person's name is ready to be checked off, I simply highlight their name so I know I'm done with them.
Cards--My holiday mailing list is another Excel spreadsheet. From there, I can print off labels for cards and it's easy to keep everyone's address up-to-date.
Timing--Don't break your back trying to get every Christmas decoration up. Spread the task out over a few days, and give yourself time to enjoy the process.
Spread the cheer--get family involved whenever possible. Let the hubs put up the tree, let the kids help with the cookies, and if you are hosting, let everyone bring a dish to share.
Cheer yourself--do something for yourself this holiday season to make it especially enjoyable. I indulge in those Peppermint White Chocolate Mochas from Starbucks, I use peppermint body wash and lotion, and I listen to Christmas music whenever possible. Those things do wonders to lift my spirits if I happen to get the holiday blahs.
Enjoy the season!