by Christine Stoner
Well, the holidays are here and have come up very quickly. Before you know it Christmas will be here and gone! The trick to enjoying the holiday season is organize, organize and then organize. In this case I'd like to suggest to you that the biggest tool towards organizing the holiday is to use your calendar. Here are some tips:
Color Code The Holidays
Use a different color for events for different people. For example, let's say your family consists of Mary (busy wife & mother), John (hardworking husband and Dad) and Jimmy & Sarah the everything you ever wanted children. Pick a color for each of you and use that on your calendar. Let's say you choose blue for Jimmy, if he has a Christmas Concert and a school party (which you have to bake cupcakes for), mark them in green on your calendar. Using purple for Sarah for her holiday dance recital and school field trip to see the Nutcracker (which of course one of you is chaperoning). For John, I recommend red, a very noticable color. Mark his office party and annual holiday golf outing in red. Mary, would use black, it's a cliche but the busy wife and mother ends up with the most to do so black is a good choice.
Now that we've discussed color ideas what should you include on your calendar. This is simple, everything! You should include all the parties you are invited to, all your children's events and even holiday events in your area that you'd really like to attend. Putting them on your calendar keeps them in front of you making it more likely that you'll have the time to go.
Now that you've scheduled your holidays (and I'll bet every day has something), let's talk about some timesaving tips to get other things done.
Cook ahead. If you are going to make baked ziti, make two and freeze one for that holiday night that you are too tired and too late to whip up a full meal. Use your freezer to its fullest. You can make your cookies ahead and freeze them, if you are making holiday desserts, consider your options many of them can be frozen as well. A good example is cheesecake which will keep for about 3 months in your freezer. This way you can cook when you have time saving you rushing later.
If you can do a good cleaning to your house at the beginning of the season it's just a matter of maintaining it throughout. Take the time to put away extra knick knacks and other items unnecessary with all the Holiday Decorations to reduce the amount of time you'll need to spend cleaning.
Be sure and do your shopping early in the morning, weekdays if possible. Try not to shop with children except when they need to buy a special gift for someone from them. Perhaps a friend, neighbor or relative would like to do a babysitting trade so you have a free day to shop and so do they.
Another key shopping tip….make a list. As ideas occur to you write them down so when you get to the stores you are not wandering aimlessly looking for ideas. If you have someone difficult to buy for, take 5 minutes before you shop and write down 2 or 3 of their hobbies or skills to help you focus on items which may work for them.
One of the most timeconsuming holiday items! If possible, have items wrapped at the store, if not try the following tips. Buy gift bags, put in a little tissue, attach a card and wa la it's wrapped. Have an area set aside for wrapping and wrap as you buy. Waiting until you have all yoru gifts only means you will continue to put it off until you are wrapping at 2 am on Christmas morning! (Be sure and label your wrapped gifts so you know who gets what!
Everyone complains about writing out holiday cards. You have too many, no time to write them out. Here are some timesaving tips!
- Holiday postcards! They're too small to write a book on and they'll save postage too!
- Type a holiday letter - many people do this already you can then print or copy as many as you need and simply sign your name.
- Keep your christmas card list up-to-date all year long to avoid last minute scrambling.
- Avoid having to send an overwhelming number of cards buy not sending cards to people you'll say happy holidays to in person (including work acqaiintences and friends) again this is a postage saver.
Having trouble finding the time to write out your cards, try these stolen minutes. If you have kids, write out a few cards during their bath. You can supervise while you're writing. If you commute by bus or train it's a perfect opportunity to take care of your cards. Pop those you complete in the mail that day and avoid lugging them around they don't need to be mailed all at one time!
Christine Stoner is the author of TimeTipz a monthly publication providing timesaving tips in the areas of cooking, cleaning, projects and organizing.
Take the Next Step
- Check out our Christmas Countdown Calendar. A 5-week to-do list to help you prepare for Christmas.
- Find more inexpensive Christmas gift ideas.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
More Money-Saving Tips for Families
- Best September bargains for thrifty shoppers
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- Selling kids clothes hassle free online
- Keeping kids' extra-curricular costs down with creative financing
- 5 financial tips for large families
- Raising a self-sufficient teen
- This week's Readers' Tips