Yes, I know that it’s still summer, but the holidays will be here before you know it and there are things that you can do now to help you prepare for a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season. This week, we’ll take a closer look at those things.
I track the holidays from Halloween through New Year’s Day., treating that two months as one large (and very fun) unit.
First, I want to look at the documentation you should gather concerning the holidays. You may think that documentation is better suited to tax season, but there are a few basic documents that can really help you get ready for the holidays.
#1 — The Master Calendar
The holidays are a hectic time. There’s travel, house guests, school and church celebrations, work events, parties with friends. Plus, there’s real life to manage. The only way to keep it straight is to create a master calendar. Mine goes from late October through the end of the year. Start it now and fill it with the events you already know. What time do you go to church on Christmas? When do you travel for Thanksgiving? When does the school break begin? As soon as you know a date, get it on the calendar. And make sure to block out several days for crafting, baking, decorating, and just plain relaxing and enjoying the season.
#2 — The Holiday Budget
You should have a budget that covers all of your holiday expenses. When I say all, I mean all: gifts, wrapping, travel, party food, new outfits for church, tickets to the Nutcracker, decorations, Halloween candy, cards and stamps, craft supplies, babysitting. As best you can, try to estimate costs and make sure that you are saving enough money to cover the costs. No matter what you see on television, you should not go into debt to celebrate. Actually writing the budget down and tracking your saving and expenses throughout the season is a great way to prevent nasty surprises in January.
3# — The Lists
Most of us need to keep several lists up to date: address list for Christmas cards; list of people for whom you need to buy or make gifts; list of sizes for gift recipients (including favorite colors and styles is helpful here too. That way, you can tell Grandma that Josh loves green but hates turtlenecks.); decorations and similar items you need to buy; tasks you need to complete. As Christmas draws closer, you’ll add additional lists: menus for parties and celebrations, guest lists, shopping lists, baking lists, thank yous to be written.
You might want to stat keeping a holiday notebook (in hard copy or online) to keep track of these things.