With Halloween only a day away, the holidays are fast approaching! Every year I find myself caught up in the hustle and bustle so much so that, by the time New Year’s Day arrives, I often realize that I had completely lost track of time during the previous two months! Where did it go? What did I do?! November brings yearly travel and Thanksgiving festivities. In December, we have several family birthdays in addition to the usual decorating, gift buying, baking, and Christmas festivities. I will be the first to admit that I often wait until the last minute for some gifts which creates undue stress leading up to the very days right before December 24th! I have been caught wrapping, even buying gifts, on Christmas Eve. This is definitely not how I’d like to be spending my time. I often lose sight of the most important parts of the holiday season: Downtime with eggnog in front of the tree! Time with friends and family! Being thankful! Instead, I’m often just thankful to crawl into bed.
There has to be a better way to do this.
So this holiday season, I’m channeling my inner Duchess Kate. She, too, has her familial obligations and a full social calendar. I’m positive she feels the pressure of juggling all this in conjunction with wanting to bake cookies with her family, decorating their home, buying presents, and still finding time to sit down with Will after a long day and enjoy a cup of mulled wine together. In order for her to appropriately apportion her time, she doesn’t just cross her fingers and hope for the best. No, I’m willing to bet that the Duchess is a planner and plans ahead to make the holidays as stress-free as possible. Here are my suggestions for holiday planning that I’ve taken to heart to make 2015 the most relaxing holiday season yet!
1. Plan…and plan early!
It’s important to plan the next two months on a calendar (whether through a smartphone or paper planner) for all parties, events, and activities so that you can see at a glance what you have coming up and if you can realistically tack on additional activities. While you’re at it, make a gift-giving list of all presents you have bought and for whom and which ones still need to be purchased. I’ve set a deadline for myself that all gifts must be purchased and received by December 11th.
2. Identify what you want to accomplish and set a timeline.
I seem to always regret that I didn’t decorate earlier, bake cookies earlier, or do more special crafts with Master Toddler. I feel that decorating and baking doesn’t happen until the middle of December or later! This is far too late. This is the time of year when I more than ever do not want to feel rushed yet it always seems to happen. I essentially let my schedule run me rather than the reverse. This year I’ve categorized different activities to prioritize what is important to me. Yours may or may not look like this, nor our Duchess; however, I’m sure she takes mental stock of what merits her time and acts accordingly. Especially this year with it being Princess Charlotte’s first Christmas, I’m sure the Duchess wants to slow down the clock to enjoy every minute of it that she can.
As I mentioned, I feel I always get a late start on this. It seems it is always the middle of December by the time I get around to it (because of the aforementioned birthday parties, etc.). This year, I’ve made a plan as to when the tree gets purchased, when it gets decorated, when the garland goes on the front of the house, etc.
Our house will smell like cookies earlier this year! There have been times when this is done just days before Christmas and as a result, I have not been able to take time to enjoy decorating them or tackling the more difficult of recipes…but not this year! I’m planning ahead so I can take my time to enjoy the process and not concentrate on just getting it done and over with.
I’m making time this season to do special crafts with Master Toddler. I want him to remember the magic of this season and creating his own works of art. Of course, the school he attends does seasonal crafts with him but it’s important to me that he has these memories with me as well. I don’t want him to remember me as stressed and frazzled. I want this time of year to be banks of happy, carefree memories for him.
IV. Cards and letters
If you received a holiday card from me last year, I guarantee it was after Christmas! Like many, I feel the letter is becoming a lost art. I feel it is so special to still receive a card in the mail and will be making it a priority to post mine timely this year.
In years past, I’ve forgone sitting down and enjoying a classic holiday movie in its entirety because there have been other more “pressing” tasks that I’ve had to accomplish. Mostly, these tasks build up because I haven’t prioritized my time. Too often, our family isn’t sitting down and enjoying our Christmas Tree until after New Year’s Day when all engagements are done and we have nothing else to do! I’ll be honest – some of the magic is lost then. If I have to literally schedule downtime to make our family pause this season, I certainly will not be above doing so. I will also not be afraid to say “No” to an activity if it is not on my priority list and if I feel our schedule is becoming too overloaded.
I invite you all to take time over this coming weekend to plan your holiday season in true Duchess fashion. Grab your Keep Calm and Carry On mug and brew some tea. Grab a pen and paper. Play some seasonal music (Time-life Treasury of Christmas here I come!). Write down anything and everything you want to accomplish this holiday season, prioritize that list, and organize your next two months so that you move gracefully through them, enjoying all that the season has to offer.