Guest post by Jennifer Ford-Berry
Christmas is right around the corner! Are you ready?
Have you been enjoying this amazing season?
This truly is my favorite time of year. I don’t feel stressed out or overwhelmed, why? Because I started preparing for this season in October and November. Yep, that’s right…I am what you call a non-procrastinator. I start all projects early and I LOVE a good plan! Is this annoying to my friends and family? Well….some. But you know what? It keeps me sane and that is all that matters.
Most people I know completely lose sight of what this season is truly about. They are so lost somewhere among consumerism and their long list of responsibilities that they couldn’t enjoy the moment if they tried.
Where is the magic?? Well there is no magic about getting my “To Do’s” done, but since I get them done early, I am able to sit back and notice the rest of the season. I am able to enjoy the magic in my children’s eyes. I am able to give and to count my blessings….to me that is where the magic lies.
So by now you may be rolling your eyes thinking “Good for you Jen, but I am still stuck with the anxiety of getting it all done”! Well, it is true that we are now into December, but you still have plenty of time to make a choice! Right now you can make a choice: a choice to live this season differently and a choice to start your tasks earlier next year.
Below are some of my favorite tips for staying sane this season:
– Get your shopping done early. Every year I have a personal goal of having 85% of my shopping and wrapping done by Thanksgiving. This may seem extreme, but by setting this goal I usually hit it. I shop all year so that makes this easier.
– Give experiences instead of stuff. This is truly the best gift you can give and you can do it today from the comfort of your home computer! Memberships, concert/play tickets, sporting events, a night on the town and the wine of the month club….there are all sorts of great ideas out there. The best part is that the anticipation doesn’t end after they open the gift.
– Simplify greeting cards. Let the idea of the perfect, matchy-matchy holiday card go. Grab some candid photos from the past year instead. I always order my cards the week before Thanksgiving. My favorite site usually has their annual coupon posted by then. I say my favorite because they address, stamp and mail my cards for me…genius!
– Make time to get together with your friends! Every year my husband and I host a holiday wine tasting party for our closest friends. Everyone brings a snack and a bottle of wine for the tasting. It is simple, informal and a nice reason for all of us “grown-ups” to relax. This year I am surprising my friends with a slide-show that captures many of our favorite memories from the past 3 years…shhhh!
– Learn to say no. Let the whole family decide how you all want to spend this precious time of year. Do not get guilted into events or gatherings you really do not want to attend. At the beginning of November I check the Internet for dates of holiday events that I want to do as a family. I mark all the dates in my planner early so that when we get an invitation we can say no if our priorities already claimed the date.
– Stock up on items you need the most. I do this early so I don’t have to waste time rushing around for last minute ingredients when I need to bring a dish to pass.
– Sort, purge and give before the holidays. I sort and purge the kids’ toys weeks before Christmas so that I have room to put away their new gifts after the holidays. I have them choose at least two things each that they can give to someone less fortunate. Then we also find other ways for us to give as a family during December. It drives me nuts when kids only talk about what they can get!
– Watch Christmas movies. Oh how I love a good Christmas movies. It seems like they are the only ones left with a happy ending nowadays. It reminds me that with love and faith anything is possible.
Jennifer Ford Berry is an organizational expert, best-selling author, entrepreneur and speaker. Her first book Organize Now: a week-by-week guide to simplify your space and your life has sold over 250,000 copies world-wide. Jennifer has recently published Organize Now: 12 month home and activity planner and Organize Now: your money, business and career.