When you’re preparing for a major holiday it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all there is to do, and when that happens you can easily lose patience with your little ones. Then the guilt sets in and you think, “How could I yell like that, this holiday is about bring joy and love to all, especially to my kids!”
In this column, the last in my series on surviving the holidays, I’m not dishing out parenting advice so much as practical-helpful-organizational-so I-don’t-lose-my-mind-because-of-all-the-stress-and-yelling at-my-kids advice. And I’m posting it early because I know you have a lot to do to get ready for the holidays!
I believe that a great deal of your stress can be alleviated by planning and doing one tiny thing each day during the month, versus doing it all at the end. I’ve done this myself and it really works!
Here are 6 things that will make you feel as if the elusive elf I mentioned last week actually showed up!
1. Be Proactive
Get a pad of paper and list everything you need to accomplish before December 25th, everything! Things like polishing the silver. Getting and wrapping gifts. Counting out the silverware, plates, and glasses. Deciding what the centerpiece and decorations will be and which serving platters to use and…
Next, get out your calendar and schedule 1-2 things to do each day. Do things like wash/polish silverware, plates and glassware; wrap them in dishtowels and store in boxes. Another great organizational tip is to take sticky notes and label what food will be served in which bowl or platter. That way someone can hand you the dish you want versus needing to decide what to use when the food is waiting to be served. Iron the tablecloth, napkins and outfits and hang them in closet. That way they only need a touch up on the “big day.”
2. Use Time Wisely
When you’re chatting on the phone, address holiday cards. Wrap gifts. Polish silverware. Wash platters. You catch my drift here. Don’t waste a minute.
3. Write Thank You Cards in Advance
Should I or shouldn’t I? Here’s a way to do thank you notes in advance. Consider creating thank you notes on the computer and do each step over several nights, starting at the beginning of December. Doing thank you notes before gifts are received not only creates excitement, it also allows you to talk with your children about what they should do if they get a gift they don’t like, yet need to say thank you anyway.
Night one: Have each child pick an image to represent them.
Night two: Create one thank you message per child. Make sure to leave a small spot at the bottom of the note to insert what the gift was.
Night three: Print all thank you notes out and have the children sign them.
Night four: Address envelopes, stamp, and stuff them.
After the holidays, un-stuff, write in what the gift was, re-stuff and mail!
4. Buy Backup Gifts
Purchase 3 small it’s-just-what-I-wanted gifts. Wrap and stash them in the closet in case a relative didn’t realize that Junior doesn’t play with stuffed animals any more.
5. Make an “Extra Hand” to Help Wrap Gifts
Supplies: Find 2-3 shoe boxes. Fill one box with tape, pens, crayons, markers and paper. This gives little ones something special to do as you wrap gifts. Fill another with scissors and cutting blades so little ones don’t reach for a marker and accidentally cut themselves. Put stickers, glue, and glitter and fun stuff like that in the last box so all the glitter and glue work is done inside the box to reduce the mess.
Wrapping: Take a paper towel holder that’s weighted on the bottom and unscrew the top. Put a role of wrapping paper on it so it holds the paper for you as you pull off what you need.
Consider using twine instead of expensive ribbon to wrap gifts. It comes in colors too. Purchase a plastic or aluminum funnel typically used for motor oil. Punch a hole in the side of the funnel and hang it on a hook. Place the twine in the funnel and thread it through the hole. Tada, the third hand you’ve always wanted!
6. Give Gifts from the Heart
The economy makes this a cost conscious holiday season. Instead of purchasing all new gifts, create a coupon book to use as one of the gifts. Give the kids coupons for things like, Stay Up Late One Weekend Night, or Mom Does Your Chores for One Week, or No Veggies Tonight, or No Bath Tonight, or One Date with Dad or One Room Redesign. A room design can be as simple as a new coat of paint, a new set of sheets, a bean bag chair and lamp to create a special reading place, or just moving the furniture around the way they want it. This is also great way to teach the kids that giving from your heart is the real meaning of the holidays. I hope this holiday season you’ll create some time for yourself, let others help you with all the chores and begin getting organized now, so you can relax and enjoy the festivities this year! Next week I’ll share what I think is the perfect way to tell your kids about Santa!
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and The Authentic Parent Series. Go to proactiveparenting.net to download two free chapters from her book and learn about other Proactive Parenting programs. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.