Holiday Season Planning by Stacey Crew ith the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s time to get our acts together to make this season one we can enjoy without stressing over last-minute details. The main tasks that need to be accomplished for the holidays generally include gift buying, meal planning, decorating, and mailing out holiday cards. So, get out your calendar and map out your plan of attack for November and December. To simply and easily accomplish the main holiday tasks, use this convenient to-do list: 1. Set a Budget: You have enough time to plan your purchases so you don’t wind up with a credit card hangover come January. Make your gift lists and buy a little each week. Create a space in your home for gifts; the top shelf of a closet is a good spot if you need to hide them. Have a designated area such as a storage closet or a spot in the garage for nonperishable purchases for parties and gettogethers. 2. Meals & Menu Plan: Start creating your menus. If you’re planning to entertain this holiday season, consider W using a binder with dividers for each meal or party. Enter your dishes and make a grocery list, separating items by store. Pick up non-perishables starting in early November. Not only will you defray costs, but you’ll have less to do as Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas approach. a space for the decorations. Having a designated “staging area” works well to make sure the decorations don’t take over your space until you’re ready to hang or display them. Suggested staging areas include the garage, the basement, or a guest room. If your decorations aren’t already organized, put them into groups: put all the ornaments together, put the lights in another pile, separate the dishes and linens, etc. Grouping like items together will help you see exactly what you have on hand. If you do have the staging space, utilize it and set up a schedule of when you’ll put out particular decorations. For example, some families have a tradition of decorating the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. Outdoor decorations can remain in the garage or in a covered area outdoors until you’re ready to put them out. 4. Holiday Cards: Plan out your holiday cards and update your contact list. Give yourself time to decide on a card format. Have photographs taken, 3. Prepare your Decorations: Create or keep it simple and use photos you’ve already taken earlier this year. Order your holiday cards by December 1 to avoid incurring rush shipping costs. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything else you need to accomplish, start a new tradition and send a New Year’s card instead, which will give you something to do after the holidays. Remain conscious of the fact that the holidays are generally a stressful time. It’s important to not overdo it so that you can actually enjoy the holiDAYS. Find a way to relieve stress that’s positive and healthy. If you work out, keep at it. Remember to breathe. The purpose of the holidays is to focus on family, friends and fun…and ENJOY! Happy Holidays! For a FREE downloadable holiday calendar, go to www.myorganizedlifestyle. com/holidays, sign up for the newsletter and print out your calendar. Stacey Crew is a professional organizer in Charelston, SC, and the author of “The Organized Mom,” available on 12 Piedmont Family Magazine 2013 • Issue 6