I just wanted to remind everyone there are only 8 more Fridays until Christmas. It's not too late for you to have an organized, less-stressful Christmas; it simply takes planning. One cannot haphazardly prepare for Christmas and expect it to be anything but stressful. So here are my 10 steps to having a less-stressful Christmas.
1) Determine your Christmas itinerary (will you be staying home, traveling locally, staying with family/friends overnight). We also like to sync our calendars so we're on the same page.
2) Make a budget! What will you spend on gifts, food, holiday clothing, and gas/meals while traveling.
3) Make a list of people you would like to give a present to and set a budget for each person (based off your total gift budget you just set). Always plan for extra small gifts because there will be someone you would like to remember in a small way (a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, the gymnastics teacher). Last year I found Christmas scented items at a popular soap store that were all under $4 each, some were only $1.
4) Begin planning gifts for the people on your list. Some people you will know what you want to give them in advance, other people you will have no idea (this is totally normal).
5) Plan your meal if you will be staying home. Keep in mind you don't want to be too overwhelmed. What can you make the day before? What can you make in a crockpot? What will other people be bringing? When is the best time to have your meal? - If you will be traveling make a list of the foods you will be taking to each house. Keep in mind they need to be foods that travel well and depending on how far you will travel may need to be foods you can easily purchase at the grocery store and assemble quickly (veggie tray, chips & dip, apples & caramel dip, cider & mulling spices, cheese & crackers, a bakery pie, or bakery bread).
6) If you will be staying somewhere overnight begin a packing list by category (bathroom, sleeping, Christmas outfits, everyday clothing, shoes...). I also determine what outfits we will be wearing on Christmas and purchase them according to my budget.
7) If I'm going to do a lot of baking I will make a list of what I want to make and what I need to purchase in order to make them. I will space them out on my calendar and begin with the freezable ones first.
8) Begin purchasing gifts. Normally I like to be mostly done before Thanksgiving however this year (for budget purposes) I will still be making some purchases in the first week of December.
9) Plan ways you can involve your family in serving and giving. Will you adopt a family? Will you be purchasing animals for a family via Heifer International or World Vision? Is there a shelter near you that could use a few hours of hands on help?
10) Lastly don't forget the reason for the season! I know it sounds awful to say but you need to plan this too. This is a very busy time of year and you don't want to get so busy with the things that don't actually matter to forget the the things that really do! Will you be doing an advent wreath? How else will you bring Christ into your family's Christmas?