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Get Organized for the Holidays

The holidays can be a time of busyness and stress. Get organized and create a plan to tackle the festive season and keep your cool.

Many of us have a mountain of tasks to climb leading up to the holidays. From party planning, to food prep, to what seems like endless trips to the mall, we are all running at a breakneck pace.

With so much on your to-do list, getting it all done, while keeping your cool can seem nearly impossible. To help take the stress out of the holidays, having a plan for how to balance endless errands and seasonal social obligations is key.

Making a list…

Gifting is a huge part of the holidays.  Jane Veldhoven, Certified Professional Organizer, member of Professional Organizers in Canada, and owner of Get Organized by Design recommends having a budget in mind for how much you want to spend. “Create a list of each person you want to give a gift to and do some online research before you go shopping, so you have some ideas of what you would like to buy,” says Veldhoven.

Elizabeth Burnett, etiquette expert, and owner of Elizabeth Etiquette advocates starting early. “If you procrastinate you will be overwhelmed. Don’t leave your shopping to the last minute hoping that the perfect gift is going to materialize. You will end up abandoning your budget, forgetting your good intentions and buying anything you can find,” she says.

In addition to your gift budget be sure to account for other costs including thank you cards, hostess gifts, and gift wrap, to ensure you are prepared for any gift-giving situation.

(Don’t) shop ‘til you drop

Once you have your list in hand, it’s time to tackle the stores. “With a shopping list, you should have some idea of the stores you need to go to, so be sure to plan your route in the most efficient way possible, and try shopping during off-peak hours, and ordering online to save time,” says Veldhoven.

For those who may have more difficulty sticking to a plan or a budget, Veldhoven recommends finding a shopping buddy. Together you can set a timeline and budget and help to keep each other in check.

Having trouble finding the right gift? “Professional Organizers really like to recommend anything that can be given as an experience, rather than a thing, so that we are not cluttering up people’s houses, and sometimes those gifts are more meaningful,” says Veldhoven.

That’s a wrap

To reduce holiday stress and save time, Veldhoven suggests having your gifts wrapped at the mall, and with many gift-wrap stations contributing to local charities, you are giving back, while saving yourself some time.

If you opt to do it yourself, try to do it all at the same time. “Sometimes if you buy a couple of gifts and wrap them you can forget about them, and then go out and buy something new,” says Veldhoven, which can lead you to stray from your budget and waste time.

Mind your manners

Having a plan to deal with social obligations during the holidays can help to de-stress the festive season.

Not sure how to approach office gifts? Burnett has some advice. “For work, you are not expected to buy for everyone. If you would like to give a little something, bringing in coffee for the office or some baked goods is a great way to spread the festive cheer. If you would like to be a bit more health-conscious, a veggie platter is a good idea.”

Often times during the holidays we find ourselves receiving many invitations. Burnett says to respond to invitations as soon as they come in, however, it can be tricky if you receive two invitations for the same date. In this situation, Burnett says, “It’s first come, first served. It is very poor manners to accept an invitation, only to cancel later, because you were invited somewhere else.”

When you attend a holiday party, Burnett says, “It is considered good manners to present a small token of appreciation.” Don’t want to give yet another bottle of wine? Burnett suggests opting for a festive flower arrangement, to bring a bit of holiday cheer.

Post-party; be sure to follow up with a thank you. “A thank you card is always in order. You can absolutely call the next day to say thanks, but there is nothing like the written word, it is always most appreciated,” says Burnett.

Looking for some SmartPoints-friendly recipes to share with your colleagues? Try these!