As Halloween approaches fast, and Thanksgiving trails just weeks after, the holiday season is officially around the corner and for many moms, that often means one thing: start panicking soon. Why? Because for some odd reason, as if our to-do lists were not endless enough, moms are usually the ones planning holiday parties, sending invitations and scheduling things, checking on special menu needs of eldery relatives, or kids with food allergies, etc. Moms are usually also the ones doing all the shopping, not just for the holiday meals, but for all the little details too, like Halloween treats, goody bags, home décor, gifts, wrapping paper, ribbon, and so on.
One key to making your life easier, as a mom, if you are tackling all this and more, in addition to your usual full schedule, is to plan ahead in a few different ways. Here are ways that have really helped me to gear up early for the holidays and ensure that I not only don't forget anything important, but also get most if it done ahead of time so that I can sit back (preferably by a nice fire), and enjoy myself with everyone close to me instead of freaking out the whole time.
1) Start making lists now, and start picking things up that you'll need for the holidays when you see them, as you go about your usual grocery shopping / other shopping routines. For instance, make a Halloween list ASAP and just grab the candy next time you buy milk, and a few decorations too. And you're done for that holiday already! Make a thanksgiving list, or start one, on your phone, so that you can add things as you think of them but pick up non-perishable and canned items now, when you see them (and if they're on sale now even better!) My list includes things like dried cranberries, raisins and cherries; canned pumpkin; frozen gluten free piecrusts (not always easy to find) and flour; sugar; sprinkles; frosting; dried mushrooms, and so on. I'm adding larger items like wine and soda or juice, and napkins so that I remember to think ahead and grab these on a light shopping day, and avoid being stuck with needing a million things, half of them really heavy and bulky, the other sold out, the week before I plan to feed and host 8-12 people.
2) Another good way to plan ahead is to start keeping an eye out for gifts for your loved ones now. The other day I needed to get my kid new boots, for instance, and I saw some of my husbands favorite sox, so I got him some new ones for Christmas. That's one thing done. I also saw several great books to give as gifts while I was hanging out with my friend who is an author, and I wrote those down so I can order them from Amazon.com soon too.
3) Set things aside in a specific place as you gather them, and check them off your list. I hide Christmas and birthday gifts in my closet, for instance, I have Halloween candy up high on a kitchen shelf, and I'm compiling the items for holidays coming up in other cabinets. This way, I don't buy something for Thanksgiving but use it by accident another night, or lose a Christmas gift I bought 2 months early.
By simply keep things organized, you'll be amazed how quickly you feel more relaxed, prepared and ready to truly enjoy your holidays this year with just a little bit of long-term planning ahead, and a few phone lists you can carry with you over time everywhere you go.
Do you do most of the holiday planning and shopping in your family? How do you plan ahead so that you can also have some time to relax?