Regardless 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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.
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!