Home » Increase Christmas Joy by Planning Ahead

Silver bells, sleigh bells, chocolate bells and kids singing Jingle Bells in the back of the car on the way home from school—this is how Christmas begins.  It’s fun. It’s busy.

Too many times, it’s also a secret stress.

For some people, the weeks around Christmas are the busiest time at work. Families juggle recitals and other events while making every dollar go as far as it can.

Whether it’s making traditional homemade gingerbread cookies to set out for Santa or wrapping festive holiday lights around a tree, winter festivities should be more fun than stressful. Planning your to-do list and Christmas schedule in advance can ease seasonal stress and increase joy.

How to Make a Christmas to-do list

There are moments when looking ahead to December is overwhelming. There are presents to buy. Cleaning, cooking, baking and crafting all take a lot of time, and there are parties and other events to plan around.

Listing your tasks in advance and following your plan daily can make a big difference in your seasonal outlook. Add the following ideas to a mobile productivity app to create a Christmas to-do plan that will get you through December with a smile on your face:

  • Decide what your holiday budget is. Consider extra costs for health care in case of illness. Will there be expenses for travel costs? What other unusual purchases might come up? Try to look ahead and plan accordingly.
  • Decide who you will spend money on—your spouse, your children, your mother and father, friends, coworkers, bosses, and employees might all come to mind. Remember the extras, too, like small presents for teachers and classmates where your children attend school and don’t forget to plan for stocking stuffers.
  • Design your top Christmas projects. Be realistic—there’s usually a lot of baking, searching for gifts, wrapping and crafting to be done, as well as parties to attend.  Part of staying merry is realizing it’s not possible to do it all every year. It’s okay to set priorities and save some fun for another time.
  • Do your research. Searching out the perfect recipes, Christmas printables and crafts for kids, and finding deals online in advance is part of the fun. Browse local ads for sales, too.
  • Start listing things you’ll need to buy. Include everything from gift ideas to food planning. Double check to see if these products will fit in your budget.
  • Set a timeline. How many days do you have for buying presents? What about cooking and baking? When will you be able to wrap presents and write cards? Using a productivity app like Wunderlist or Coorganiz on a mobile device will help keep you on track without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Add top events to your calendar. Christmas parties at work, family get-togethers, and a friendly girl’s night in for making cute ornaments or crafts from Pinterest might take priority. Politely cancel your participation in any event that will stretch your budget or emotional resources too far.
  • To cut back on social stress, plan to update your website or blog in advance with Christmas pictures from past years. Schedule posts ahead of time, and make a plan for things you might want to tweet on or around Christmas Eve.

Make a Shopping Plan you can Work with

As you look at the budget and the presents you’ll need to buy, use your app to categorize upcoming purchases by the type of items. This might include listing groceries, clothing, toys and games, and other gift ideas separately.

Once this is done, use your app to make new categories for the places you might shop. Then you can move the items you plan to buy as subcategories to the proper store or online outlet.

This process will create separate lists for each place you shop, but if it’s done right, you won’t have to run back to the store for forgotten items. In the long run, it could save time, dollars and a lot of anxiety.

Follow your Plan

Once your plan is in place, you can begin to act on it a little at a time.  The following items are ideas for moving through December and Christmas season gracefully, and they might be things to include on your to-do app as you plan ahead:

  • Start the celebrations with a creative decorating day. Involve your children. Let them help pick décor for their bedrooms, while you and your sweetheart spruce up the living room and kitchen with pine boughs and stockings.
  • Make your first purchases. To save time and energy, do as much as possible online before the holidays begin. Watch for deals on toys or games on sites like Amazon, and adjust gift ideas and expectations along the way to stretch your spending power. Consider presents of money or gift cards for the hardest folks to shop for.
  • Get the last gifts. Create a family purchasing event to make fun Christmas memories.  If it’s possible, limit in-store browsing to one or two trips—one for you to spend with your children or family, and one to spend with friends while you look for that perfect gift for Mom. End these trips with a special dinner or movie night.
  • Gather the groceries. Buy everything you need for the holiday meal and treats. Don’t forget candy for stocking stuffers and chocolate to share with someone you love.
  • Plan for quiet ways to celebrate along the way. Take five minutes in the evening for cocoa and cookies with your children or taking pictures of falling snow with your sweetheart.  Send out selfies of you and Santa on Instagram. These small moments have the power to make December magical.

Because life is so busy during winter festivities, organizing tasks in advance and following through with them daily can bring everyone more joy.

Three More Tips for Preparing for Christmas

  • Start early, because holiday purchasing seems to begin earlier each year. By Thanksgiving, it’s well underway. Planning your tasks in the first weeks of November or even as early as Halloween reduces stress.
  • As you complete your tasks, take notes on your productivity app about what works and what doesn’t. It’ll boost your planning ability when it comes time to think about winter festivities again.
  • Remember that celebrating is more about sharing moments with folks you love than getting things done. When you relax with your loved ones, they relax, too.

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