Does the thought of preparing for the holidays send chills down your spine and beads of sweat to your forehead? Preparing the house for guests, cooking large sumptuous meals, and preparing holiday clothing for the kids? It can be daunting but help is on the way. Here are some proven systems to plan your busy days now, when life is still relatively calm. Break down your largest and most difficult tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Start Planning Early for the Holidays

The holidays may seem quite far off but before you know it they will be arriving. Start thinking about the various things that you and your family will need. How about holiday clothing? Shopping for clothing can be time consuming and exhausting.  Don’t rush out to stores at the last minute, trying to find what you need when the pickings are slim. Take time now in the evenings when the kids are in bed to make lists. List all the things that the kids, you, and your husband will need for the holidays. Undergarments, tights, and socks (it will be much colder in another month) sweaters and holiday clothing.

Once you have decided what everyone needs, order or go out and buy. Here are a variety of cute girls tights and dresses.

Don’t forget to buy some quality boys socks. Here are some reasonably priced girls dresses for the holidays.

Now it’s time to stock up on your own makeup, or toiletries for guests and cleaning supplies. The Honest Company has great, reasonably priced bundles of clean, personal care products and cleaning supplies that you may want to have on hand for your guests and family.

40% Off Your First Bundle and Free Shipping from The Honest Company! Use code: 40OFF Valid 10/16-10/22.

Meal Planning

Meal planning includes much more than the food itself. Are you well stocked with the things that you will need? Do you have enough plates and holiday glasses? What kind of napkins will you be using and do you have enough serving platters and bowls? I love these modern white porcelain platters from Dowan. How about tablecloths and serving spoons? Here is a beautiful reasonably priced damask tablecloth for the holidays that is elegant and spill proof.

One can never have too many hand and dish towels on hand. These 100% cotton towels are European made and are heavy duty and lint free. I love these silicone oven mitts when I am busy in the kitchen and need to pull things quickly from the oven. I have given these as gifts and everyone who I have given them to has loved them

As you make your lists and get stocked for the holidays, you will start to feel much more in control. Now you will be ready to tackle the more difficult task of meal planning and cooking. There are many things that you can start planning ahead of time such as baking and freezing cakes and cookies.  By baking ahead of time, you won’t be rushing at the last minute. Also, you can order any specialty items that are not usually stocked in your local stores, depending on where you live.

Gift Shopping

Giving gifts can be a meaningful experience for you and your loved ones. I once gave a relative a gift that was something that I knew she really loved. It almost brought her to tears. The gift was not expensive, but she was very touched that I had taken the time to think about something that she really loved. I really thought nothing of it, but when I saw how much it meant to her, I realized the power of gifts. It gives us a chance to show our love and care for another in a very tangible way.

Gifts do not have to be expensive and can even be handmade. You can give your friends and relatives homemade baked goods in a beautiful jar or beautifully wrapped and tied with cellophane and ribbon. Stationary can be stamped or personalized and paired with a special hand cream. Sometimes it is the personalized gift the mean the most to our loved ones.

Still, it is fun and meaningful to give special gifts and I will address some special gifts in another article. Keep a look out for another article on special gifts coming soon.

Think about what you will be giving for the holidays, and dedicate time now to planning what you will be making or buying. It is wise to do this in the weeks before you will be burdened with the unavoidable last-minute cooking and cleaning. Order items that you will need now and you will still have time to return or exchange them if necessary.

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Menus and Cooking

Planning your menus and cooking ahead can be a lifesaver. Obviously, the main dishes will have to be cooked close to the actual holidays, but many things can be cooked and frozen ahead of time. Soups, sauces, rolls and baked goods can all be prepared ahead of time and frozen. Make a master list and map out how you will cook and clean in manageable chunks in the days before the holidays. Tables can be set, silver can be polished, extra chairs and tables can be brought out of storage, and other preparations can be made several days before guests arrive. Guest beds can be prepared a week before and toiletries can be replenished before the crowd arrives.

If you can manage to get some cleaning help the day before the guests arrive that will also ease the tension. Some salads can be prepared a day before and some types of meat, fish and casseroles can also be prepared ahead of time. Having a visual meal planner helps to stay organized. I really like this magnetic meal planner that sticks to your fridge. It can help you prioritize your cooking tasks in the days right before the holidays.

Systems Will Get the Job Done

By breaking tasks down and creating systems to get each important task done in a timely fashion, you can greet the holidays in a (relatively) calm and organized way. Start planning now, and you will reap the benefits of greeting your guests calmly, and you will then be able to participate in the holidays and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Wishing you easy preparations and time to enjoy your holidays!

Share these organizing tips with your friends and comment below!

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