I love the holidays, and every year, my list of ideas and grand plans get bigger and bigger. Thing is, time doesn’t increase in accordance with the To Do list, and each year, I end up scrambling to get it all done. This year, I plan on not going overboard — which I’m putting out there publicly so I am now accountable — and I plan on using all the holiday timesaving tips below, proven successful when I follow-through, to make sure I don’t just get through the holidays, but I enjoy them and have memories that I want to remember.
Using technology, a little forethought and a good old-fashioned pencil and paper binder, you too can save time throughout the holiday season with these holiday timesaving tips!
- When planning shopping trips, write out your list in sections. For example, put all the hygiene items in one mini-list, food items in another and so forth. Plan your route around the store in the fastest way using these store sections as stopping points so you spend less time wandering around and you’ll get out faster.
- Baking items go on sale early in November. When prices are good and you have a little extra cash, buy in multiples so you aren’t sending someone to the store last-minute because you ran out of brown sugar or canned pumpkin. If you can, buy some things in bulk, like chocolate chips from Costco.
- Create a master planner. Some people prefer a purchased planner, but I use a spiral binder with pockets in the covers. One page per child, a couple of pages for friends and family and one for neighbors and/or acquaintances where I can list gift ideas and things I’ve purchased. (And if you’re like me, you can also tabulate how much money you’ve spent.) Save a page for your holiday dinner menu, scheduling visits and even Christmas Eve snacks. Carry it with you and have worry-free shopping trips!
- If you’re not paying cash for Christmas up front (or with your debit card) consider carrying a second credit card as back-up; nothing more embarrassing and annoying than trying to check out of a crowded store, long line of people behind you, with the store telling you that your card is on hold due to an overzealous fraud protection department. (Been there, done that. It’s usually easily fixed when you call to notify the credit card provider those three cellphones and two Xboxes are legitimate purchases, but it can still throw a wrench in your day if your phone battery dies or you’re unable to get through quickly enough.) You can also keep your receipts in the pockets for easy returns/exchanges!
- Take advantage of those holiday coupons that give you something free! Places like Bath and Body Works commonly send out coupons with big discounts and/or free items upon purchase; even if you don’t need those items, you can keep them on hand, in a small basket in your closet, as gifts for those you forget or surprise you with something. I put them in simple cellophane bags tied with ribbon, so I can see what’s in it and organize it easily. Ready in a flash and you can do it with all sorts of things, like holiday gloves, candy selections, a fun holiday CD, etc.
- Hosting any holiday gatherings? Create a Pinterest board for each one! If you are having guests contribute, invite them to post to the board. It’s an easy way for everyone to see what will be served so there are no duplicates and if someone has a food allergy or problem, they have advanced notice.
- Shopping for unique gifts amongst the family gets difficult – do the same thing with Pinterest as you do for holiday meals. Make a board where all the adult kids can share what they’re getting for mom and dad. No duplicates and it’s easy to assign roles, such as “You buy <whatever> and I’ll be in charge of whatever, with <insert name> in charge of wrapping, card and accessories.”
- Traveling over the holidays? Another use for Pinterest! Create a packing list board for your kids that are old enough to pack their own things. Hand them the tablet or mobile device and let them use the board as a guide to get everything into their case; they learn responsibility and you only have to review it with them later instead of doing it all yourself.
- Use online wish lists! I love Amazon’s wish list option. I keep one for kitchen gadgets I need, one for cookbooks, one for random things, etc. One entitled “Holiday Housewares” is a way to gather all those things you have to purchase before you host a dinner or house guests. My Thanksgiving dinner list has a roaster, a bar stool I’d like to buy two of, and a few miscellaneous things that will make our dinner come together seamlessly. And I can share it with others who may want to contribute or co-host.
Enjoying the holidays is the most important thing but the rest of the work doesn’t just go away, so we aim to find ways to decrease as much stress and hassle as possible. These holiday timesaving tips should leave you more time to talk with your friends and family or just sit by the fireplace to recharge with a glass of wine and a good book. (And sometimes that’s more important than finding the perfect gift or making one more loaf of cranberry bread!)