Declutter Your Holidays

Do you sometimes feel like your calendar controls you during the holidays?  Declutter your holidays before they arrive and take control of your holiday season. I’m not talking here about stuff so much as commitments both of time and resources.

The holidays are a time of excitement, joy…and often stress.  Overbooked calendars and overstrained budgets can take their toll. Proper planning makes it possible to reduce the stress, thereby maximizing the joy and excitement of the season.

What’s the secret to stress-free holidays?  Priorities. 

To prioritize is to put emphasis on those things that are most important.  To do this properly takes time and planning up front, but the payoff is a peaceful holiday season during which you are able to relax and enjoy all that the season has to offer.

Take Inventory

There are so many tempting draws on our time, our wallets, and even our taste buds during the holiday season; it can be a bit overwhelming.  Things can quickly get out of hand, and before you know it you haven’t got a moment to spare. 

For best results, start to declutter your holidays early in the fall by taking a few minutes (or hours) to think about what matters most to you and your family. 

Where would you like your emphasis to be this holiday season? 

What people, places, and events are essential to your enjoyment of the season? 

What brings you the most joy? 

What causes you the most stress? 

The answers to these questions will provide you with a blueprint as you begin the planning process. 

First Things First

Once you’ve decided what matters most to you, it’s time to start scheduling.  Make sure your schedule is a reflection of your priorities.   You can do this by first scheduling the things that are most important. 

Remember to prioritize not only your time but also your resources during this hectic, event-filled time of the year.  Otherwise, it’s easy to end up overwhelmed, unhappy, and possibly even in debt before the season is through. 

Prioritize Your Time

Personal and family preferences come first in calendaring for the holiday season.  Begin by recording your must-dos.  Whether it’s hosting an annual holiday party, participating in charitable service, constructing gingerbread houses, taking a drive to view all the decorations around town, bundling up to go out caroling, or snuggling under a blanket to watch a favorite holiday film, if it defines the season for you then it’s a priority. 

Once the must-dos are scheduled, look at any relevant calendars such as work, school, church or other organizations that play a prominent role in your life.  Coordinate everything on one calendar to avoid double-booking. 

If you find there is more than one event happening simultaneously (as often occurs this time of year), decide which one you will attend rather than trying to hurry from one to the other.    Choose the one that best meets your needs and the needs of your family.  Then in the words of a newly famous Disney princess, let it go.  Don’t stress about the event you’re not attending.  Relax and enjoy the one that won out. 

Prioritize Your Resources

Take the time to look over your finances and establish a holiday spending budget.  This should include not only gift giving but also entertaining, donations, postage, travel expenses and any other monetary considerations specifically related to the holidays. 

Stick to your budget and save yourself a great deal of stress.

Plan to Declutter Your Holidays

Once you've established your priorities and pinpointed important events on your calendar, it’s time to plan the details.

This is an essential step in the effort to declutter your holidays.  

The most successful plans break tasks down into manageable parts.  This is true for holiday parties, gift giving, charitable service, holiday baking or whatever else comprises your holiday season.

As you look at each activity or task, note the steps involved in preparing for or accomplishing it.  Then schedule each step.  It may seem tedious to break things down in this detail, but doing so will prevent the holiday season from becoming too hectic.

Recommended Reading

Let's look now at some more specific ways to declutter your holidays.  Click on the image below for tips on organizing your holiday gift giving. I hope you find them useful as you plan and prepare for your holiday season.

Click here to return to Step-by-Step Declutter.

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