Thanks for joining me in part three of Preparing for the Holidays. In part one I set the premise of why we want to prepare for the holidays and we prayed a prayer of commitment for the upcoming season. In part two, we got organized and today in part three, I want to share a couple thoughts of how to practically tackle the to-do lists that come as a result of getting organized.
#1 – Give Yourself a Deadline. Choose a date that you would like to have the majority of your holiday preparations completed. For some that may be the day before Christmas, 12/24. For others it may be the week before Christmas, 12/17. For some of us planners, even the thought of waiting until the day or week before Christmas puts us over the edge. We prefer to be prepared weeks in advance, don’t we?
This would be a good place to note that there will be seasons, due to life’s circumstances, where you cannot be as prepared in advance as you would like. Accept it and roll with it. As you live the many years of your life, you will have years where life is hard and you simply cannot do the things you normally do. Please give yourself grace during these seasons. In fact, if you are in one of those seasons right now, I encourage you to stop reading this and instead go read Psalm 33 and meditate on God’s love and faithfulness to you.
For those of you still with me . . . Because we have an extra busy December (with the usual family and church responsibilities, plus two weddings one the first weekend and one the third weekend of December), I have chosen Thursday, 12/4, to be my deadline. It is my goal to get as much done as I can by this date. Once you’ve given yourself a deadline:
#2 – Make a to-do list (either mental or written out on paper).
#3 – Go through your to-do list and Eliminate, Delegate or Alternate. Because these words may be foreign to some of your vocabularies, say each of them out loud: “Eliminate, Delegate or Alternate”.
Eliminate means to remove or get rid of something, especially if it is not necessary. What is unnecessary on your list? Ask yourself the following questions to help you eliminate the unnecessary: Why are you doing all that you’re doing? Does is have meaning or value? If not, why are you doing it? For the past few years, I have chosen to eliminate at least one thing from my Christmas to do list – one year it was personal Christmas cards, one year it was Christmas lights on the outside of the house, one year it was a holiday gathering I usually host. This is a wonderfully freeing discipline and I encourage you to try it this year. What is one thing you could eliminate from your Christmas to do list? Cross it off your to-do list so you can hold yourself accountable. I dare you, in fact, I double dog dare you to try it. It may feel weird at first abut I bet you’ll like it.
Delegate. Another way we can simplify our schedules is by delegating. As much as you’d like to think differently, there is no rule that says things will only be done right if you do them. Can you let someone else do a bit of the Christmas shopping? Can you let those who are joining you for special meals bring some of the food? Can you let your kids help decorate? If you insist on doing everything yourself, what you are also insisting upon is a whole lot of stress that you don’t need to have. Now, I know that for some of us delegating is hard because it doesn’t get done the exact way we would do it. But there comes a point where you have to let go and get help if you are going to maintain a joyful spirit during the holidays. Nobody wants to be around a grumpy woman who is overwhelmed and stressed because she won’t let anyone help her.
Alternate. The final way you can keep balance in your to-do list and schedule is to alternate. Take turns doing things every other year. Would it work for you to send a Christmas card every other year? Could you have a Christmas party this year, but not next year? Is there another family member you can take turns with hosting Christmas dinner? Eliminating, Delegating and Alternating are wonderful words that I encourage you to incorporate into your life as you prepare for the holidays.
#4 – Do one thing per day. After you have eliminated, delegated or alternated, with your end date in mind, make a commitment to do just one thing each day to complete your to-do list. I have been keeping track of the things I do each day as an example (this is just for home & doesn’t include church). You’ll notice that there are days where I get a lot done and other days where I get little or even nothing done. That’s OK. The main idea is to regularly and actively work on getting things done. Put on some of your favorite Christmas music and get working! Some of my favorite Christmas music is shown in the picture below: 11/1 – Began listening to Christmas Music/Graham Pralines baked & put in freezer
11/3 – Sugar Cookies baked & put in freezer
11/4 – Invites for AJ’s 16th b-day
11/5 – Shopped for AJ’s gift and Dad/Annie’s gift
11/6 – Made invites for party
11/7 – AJ’s b-day dinner purchased/Christmas shopping
11/8 – transferred $/reviewed finances
11/9 – Addressed invites for party
11/10 – Purchased baking supplies/wrote AJ’s b-day letter
11/11 – Kids shopped for Mark & Kate
11/12 – Brownies baked & put in freezer
11/13 – Made Peanut Blossoms & Raspberry Ribbons & put in freezer
11/14 – Reviewed finances
11/15 – Looked for Stash Christmas Tea – no luck 🙁
Wow! Looking back, I can see that when you do a little each day, you get a lot accomplished in a couple weeks! (And you can probably tell that Christmas cookies are a BIG DEAL to my family!)
I hope these tips help you simplify and tackle your holiday preparations. For the next couple of blog posts, I will talk about preparing your heart for the holidays, which is the most important preparation of all!