Things You Can Do Now for a Simpler Christmas in December
by Nancy Twigg



After Christmas was over last year, did you vow to yourself that next year you’d find a way to make the holidays simpler? If so, have you done anything about that promise? Or did you forget about it soon after the words left your lips?

I believe that many people truly intend to simplify their holidays each year, but because they wait until the last minute to take action, they inevitably fall into the same old habits. Because there is so much to do and so little time to do it all, these holiday-harried people end up going into "autopilot" and doing everything in the same old familiar way. There simply isn’t time to try anything new or different. Although their intentions are good, without follow-through, these poor souls are destined to experience the same hectic holidays year after year.

Rather than just wishing your holidays would somehow simplify themselves, a better approach is what I call "proactive simplification." If you truly want to simplify, it is best to take charge of your holidays way before December ever gets here. There are many things you can do right now in the months prior to Christmas that will make for a much more pleasant holiday season in December.

If you dream each year of holidays that you can actually relax and enjoy, make your dream a reality this year by taking action. Consider these positive steps you can take in October and November to set the stage for a less hectic, more enjoyable celebration in December.

* Christmas shop before the Christmas rush. Of all the things you can do to make Christmas easier for yourself, this is probably the biggest. Don’t wait until the stores are crowded with thousands of holiday shoppers. Ask family members for their Christmas wish lists and get busy now.

* Complete Christmas crafts. If your plan for Christmas gifting includes giving handmade gifts, plan to have them finished by Thanksgiving. Work at it in the evenings and each weekend until you’re done.

* Take care of time-consuming tasks. Writing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, boxing up presents to mail—why wait until December to attend to these time-consuming details? Knock them out now.

* Fill your freezer. Each time you cook, double, or even quadruple the recipe and freeze the extra portions. During the hectic weeks before Christmas, having heat-and-eat meals in the freezer will be a lifesaver.

* Plan volunteer activities now. Does your intention of doing some kind of community service always get lost in the holiday shuffle each year? Use the months prior to the holidays to investigate various opportunities for service and decide which ones you want to include in your Christmas season.

* Plan holiday meals. Write out menus and shopping lists for dinners and get-togethers so you won’t have to think about it later. Use this time to experiment with any new recipes you plan to use. If you usually cook the entire holiday meal yourself, simplifying for you this year may mean asking for help. Decide what components of the meal you’d like to delegate and begin recruiting helpers.

* Decide what to delete. Which obligations add to your stress level each year? What activities would you rather forgo? Decide in advance how to diplomatically decline these engagements.

If your life constantly runs at high speed, you may feel overwhelmed when you read this list of ways to proactively simplify Christmas. Maybe you barely have time to complete the things you have to do each day, much less perform tasks for a holiday months away. If you are in that predicament, let me encourage you to take things one step at a time. Many of the tasks above can be done while you’re doing something you would normally do anyway.

Your family has to eat every day, right? While cooking those meals, why not double your recipes while you’re at it? It really doesn’t take that much extra effort. Do you usually spend time in front of the TV each evening? If so, why not wrap gifts, address Christmas cards or work on crafts while watch your favorite shows? And don’t forget to include a little Christmas shopping as you run your normal errands each week. Proactive simplification is manageable when you do a little at a time and combine Christmas preparations with tasks you must do anyway.

Nancy Twigg is the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions - 

Additional Time Management Resources Recommends

Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions
by Nancy Twigg
208 pages, August 2003


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