Holiday Time Savers

Find Some TimeRegardless of your age and stage, the holiday season is busy. One moment you are munching Halloween candy, and the next you wonder how will you possibly finish your to-do list in time. Finding ways to make the most of each minute is worth the effort. Here are a few suggestions:

“Buy” Rather Than “Shop”
Shopping is when we don’t have an agenda, stroll through the mall perusing offerings, stop for lunch, etc. If you don’t have that kind of time, you need to focus on buying. To maximize your productivity:

  1. Go to stores late in the day. Mornings and afternoons (when children are in school) are the busiest times in stores. Weekends are also busy. If possible, get a sitter or trade off with a friend and go shopping during the dinner hour. Have your list ready to go, plan your route to be efficient, and don’t allow yourself to get distracted.
  2. Buy online. Online shopping is great, especially for friends & family who live far away. Go ahead and splurge for the wrapping, have the gift sent directly to the recipient, and save yourself the trip to the mall and the post office.
  3. Purchase multiples. There is no prize for finding the greatest number of unique items! If you have a favorite item – a book, a cooking sauce, engraved glasses, a scarf, a terrific toy, etc.– there is no reason not to give it to more than one person. A wonderful gift is a wonderful gift!
  4. When in doubt, give gift cards. Most people enjoy having some “money” in their pocket. Many stores now offer a wide variety of cards for everything from restaurants to clothing stores to itunes to Amazon. One quick trip and you are done!

Simplify Non-Essentials
The holidays mean an influx of extra activity into your life. Now is the time to get rid of anything you normally do that isn’t essential to your health, your work, or the season. For example:

  • Culling through magazines or catalogs
  • Computer games & internet surfing
  • Fancy cooking (save your energy for parties & the special days)
  • House projects (wait until the holidays are over)
  • Hobbies (unless they are holiday related, put them on the back burner)

Send gifts ahead
If you will be celebrating the holidays at a far-away destination, ship your gifts ahead. This minimizes the stress of packing (especially if you are flying), and forces you to check “gifts” off your list early.

In addition, whenever you are invited to a party or staying overnight as a guest, consider ordering a hostess gift and having it sent directly ahead of time. For example, order a bouquet of flowers for a dinner party and have it delivered the day before. Or if you are going to be an overnight guest, send ahead some gourmet muffins. You can write a nice note saying, “Looking forward to tomorrow evening/next week.” Sending gifts ahead makes a great impression because it allows the hostess to enjoy your thoughtfulness apart from the chaos of the event.

Get Help
We often think we should be doing everything ourselves… that this somehow proves we are worthwhile. Wrong! Wisdom is knowing when to call in back-up. While spending more money at the holidays may seem counterintuitive, you may be surprised at how spending just a little can make a big impact on your stress level. A few options to consider:

  • Hire help for holiday cards. A virtual assistant or card sending service such as Pixingo can put your signature on your cards, address them, stamp them and send them.
  • Bring in some help for extra babysitting/ housecleaning/ cooking.  If you can’t afford extra babysitting, see if you can arrange a swap with a friend. One child-free night can be very productive.
  • Hire help to wrap gifts. Charities often offer wrapping services as fundraisers around the holidays (they wrap for a donation.) If you can’t find one of these, pay a college/high school student for a couple of hours. $20 can go a long way here!
  • If you are throwing a party, hire an extra hand to help serve and clean-up. Many people are looking for a little extra spending money at this time of year, so you can often get a big bang for your buck.

Enjoying your holiday season is as much about efficiency as it is festivity. Have a great way to save time? Join the conversation and let us know what works for you!

16 thoughts on “Holiday Time Savers”

  1. These are great tips. I have been in denial that Christmas is really coming, but I guess it would be better to face reality and start checking things off my list so I’m not freaking out at the last minute. I am all about online shopping, but the idea of trading babysitting for a night to get some things done is a great one. I’ll have to propose that to my neighbor who has kids the same ages as mine.

    1. I used to be able to knock out a BIG list of tasks if I could just get a few hours alone… and trading off with a friend worked out really well. I hope your neighbor likes the idea too:)

  2. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas used to feel so long to me as a kid. Not anymore! I do most of my shopping online every year. I used to go to the mall and now I can’t handle it! It’s much more effective.

    1. I also remember it being an eternity when I was a kid… funny how our perspective changes, isn’t it? You and me both lovin’ online!

  3. Great list! I often enlist the help of my kids to help gift wrap (now that they’re older). I used to work in a department store and was taught how to wrap in their gift-wrapping department. Since then, it’s been such a pleasure putting together a nicely wrapped present, but these days I’m pressed for time. My girls have picked up a lot of my techniques so I let them run with it now. They love it!

    1. Wow, Nicole. Being able to beautifully wrap a gift is a great talent… your kids are lucky to learn that from you, and good for them helping out. Our children can do so many things if we let them:)

  4. Such good tips! My husband does most of the wrapping because he is much better at it than me. I try to buy ahead and inevitably the holidays are always more hectic than I want them to be. I do most of my shopping online.

  5. So many great tips! I totally agree about buying multiples…I do it for my parents and in laws all the time. They never see each other, so they often get the same gifts! And though I like your suggestions for getting rid of the superfluous things we do…I don’t know if I could handle not having my nightly surfing sessions! Hope your holidays are the best!

    1. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season too, Leslie. I love the comment about your in-laws:) And hey, if you have time to surf – go for it!

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