Last week we discussed the brain dump, block scheduling, and repeat event scheduling.  Perhaps you have had a chance to try them out?  The brain dump is simply writing out all the to-dos for each category of your life.  The block scheduling is a repeating block of time that you hold each week for groups of tasks around the same category.  The repeat events are the weekly chores that you know you will need to accomplish. While all of these ideas do take a few minutes to get set up, I assure you, they will save you loads of precious minutes in the future!  And, more importantly, they are tried and true at helping keep the overwhelm stress monster at bay.  This week we’re going to focus on more holiday specific ideas to help keep you jolly throughout the season.

Having blocks of time set aside in advance for Christmas tasks will allow you to consciously choose how you prioritize your time.  Planning in enough hours each week, throughout November and December, to decorate, shop, craft, wrap, prepare food, pack up the car, and all the other Christmas to-dos, will show you that you may need to only do two runs, instead of three for a few weeks, or be a bit more deliberate about which holiday events you will attend; but think of how helpful it would be to know that in advance.  Having your weeks marked out will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Might I also encourage you to set aside one additional Christmas block after the holiday, in order to shop clearance item supplies that you are certain to need the following year.

I have a list that I build throughout the year of things I want for the upcoming Christmas.  Man, I’ve got so many athletic clothes to air dry, you know, I need a larger dryer rack!  Add it to the list.  One of my favorite speakers mentioned an amazing book they found inspirational… to the list!  So, when the time comes to share my list with my loved ones,  I’ve already got a jumpstart with items that I actually need and want.  Also, this usually means that you have multiple items at different price points, in case your family has a shopping limit.

Along with this list, I also keep a note on my phone of all the gifts that I’ve already purchased, so I don’t completely forget them the minute I start shopping again.  In my family we attempt to set a monetary limit on our gifts, and for me, I like to be able to quickly see what I’ve already purchased, so that I spend my remaining amount as effectively as possible. I am going for the over-the-moon happiness response!  In the note, I have listed each recipient’s name, the total amount I’ve spent on them thus far, each item and its cost, along with where I purchased it from. Sounds like a lot, but I usually enter this information while standing in the checkout line.

This year, when you are planning your holiday dinner, chances are there are staples you always buy to create your annual traditions.  Instead of scratching out your list on a post-it, consider doing it in an Excel sheet.  Then, next year, you have your check list to simply print out.  I do this with my weekly grocery list, honestly.  All the main items I typically buy are listed.  I print it out, and put it on my fridge and, as I need them, I simply circle them on the list.

Gift receipts!  What I started doing a couple years back was writing each family members’ name on a letter-sized envelope; “Scott’s Gift Receipts.”  As I made a purchase for them, I put the gift receipt immediately in their envelope.  For stores that don’t give gift receipts, if allowed, I would purchase items separately, or I would simply photo copy the receipt and put it in the envelope.  With Amazon return statements, I just add them to the envelopes.  Then, I simply wrap the envelope up in one of their gifts so that they have whatever they might need.  I found this saves time and it prevented me from having to go through mounds of receipts while wrapping gifts.

I will never buy those individual tape rolls again.  I have an office-sized tape dispenser which can not get lost under the wrapping paper.  I simply buy, in bulk, the tape rolls for replacement; simple, and way cheaper!  It’s also easier to share the tape across the wrapping table with the other elves.

I hope these tips help to keep you merry!

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