Preparing for the Holidays

The sweet smell of pumpkin spice, Yum! Wish it could all be that nice. It’s that time of the year where I am checking the supermarket receipt for my free turkey (or ham) and skimming the stores for the items on my Christmas list. A season filled with so much love and joy only means more things to do in the limited time we have. The stress of this holiday season can get you down, worrying about the pressures of gift giving and getting, the lack of time and money and all those extras added on to a relentless to-do list.

We all know what to expect; we do it every year. Why not get a hold of the season and show everyone just how good we are at handling our business. You are wondering, how do we prepare for this crazy season?   The key is to plan ahead and remember all those things you forgot last year. Now, write it down. Quickly! Before you forget again. The only way to get through this holiday season with some sanity is to be organized and prepared.

Take the refrigerator, for instance, it is already a messy, dirty, grimy, cold box (at least mine currently is/was!) and during the holidays, it always takes an extra beating with all the holiday wear & tear. That’s why I needed to take the time to prepare it.

Cleaning out the fridge could take hours, and devoting a block of time like that is difficult. So, I started the night before and went through everything tossing any outdated items. My god! I had things in there that were way past their expiration dates — I swear it has not been that long since I last cleaned my refrigerator. I continued to empty any leftovers in the garbage and cleaned the containers before going to bed. This process alone took a little over an hour.

The next day, I prepared myself. I gave my son my tablet to play his car games. This would keep him out of my hair during this cleanup. He loves destroying the fridge, but he loves messing up my tablet even more! My daughter, on the other hand, you know the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them” I gave her a sponge and a bucket of water and told her to get to work. I grabbed a bottle of white vinegar mixed with water, a sponge and an old tooth brush to get in those hard to reach seams. (You can use other cleaning products, but the white vinegar and water give me peace of mind knowing my daughter is not breathing in harmful chemicals). We took out all the food, and as I scrubbed down the shelves over the sink, my daughter was inside the fridge scrubbing down the walls. She makes more of a mess than she does helping, but I have learned that it takes less time to just clean up after her, and this will keep her happy during the process. She was out of there in 15 minutes, and I was left in peace to finish my project, which took another hour to complete.

My refrigerator is now ready to handle the holidays. I always promise myself after cleaning my fridge, seeing it sparkling like that, that I will never let it get like that again. Yeah right! I’ll see you in spring.

There is a lot more in preparing for the holidays than just dirty work. I will leave you with a list of — what I think are — the fundamentals in preparing for the holiday season.

1.  Mailing List. Make sure your mailing list is up-to-date. It would be a shame if a friend or family member did not get your greeting card in time for the holidays.

2.  Prep for Greeting Cards. Purchase your holiday outfits for pictures. Make the appointment for the photographer. If you send out a holiday family letter, start drafting your story. If you’re sending out stationary greeting cards, you still have time, however, by purchasing them now you can tackle a few each night so you’re not overwhelmed later.

3.  Hosting. Make contact with family and friends to decide who will be hosting this year. If you are the host send out formal or informal invites to give others time to plan their holidays accordingly

4.  Get your budget in order.  If you are that small percentage of people who actually have a holiday account. Good for you! For the other 95%, sit down and figure out your budget and do your best to stick to it.  TIP:  If you have a large family do a “Kris Kringle” or one of my favorites “White Elephant.” Set a price limit and there you go; you just saved some money and time shopping for everyone.

5.  Travel Arrangements.  If traveling out of town purchase your means of transportation, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, (great 80’s holiday classic with John Candy & Steve Martin).  If you are having overnight guest make sleeping arrangement and be sure to have enough pillows and blankets.

6.   Recipe Planning.  Start preparing your menu for the big feast. Even if you are not hosting, most likely you will be preparing some side dishes and/or baking some desserts.

7.  Lists. Start creating your gift giving list, your baking / cooking list, and your recipe list (ingredients you will need).

8.  Supplies.  Stock up on wrapping paper, Scotch tape, bows, boxes, tissue paper, ribbons, gift tags, and any specialty items you like to use.

9.  Shopping.  First, if you have specific items that are only found online purchase them early to avoid backorders and express shipping charges (remember the big problem with missed deliveries last year with UPS & FedEx, lots of people missed out on on-time gifts).  Second, find out the big ticket items that the kiddies are asking for and pick them up before they are sold out. Third, try to get most of your shopping done before December 1st, by beating the crowd you save yourself much time and aggravation. It allows you to spend more time with your family during this joyous time and makes for better memories.  TIP: Wrap as you buy. No need to save it all for the night before.

Follow me over the next several weeks as I prepare my household and get my family ready for the best time of the year. I hope I can shed some light on this holiday season and help you prepare. If you feel I have forgotten something, please, chime in, I am far from perfect and almost always forget something, even if I have it written down. However, I don’t stress it, there is always next year.