Hello friends! Welcome to a fresh, new week! We had a fun, jam packed weekend over here, starting with our annual trip to the Nutcracker Market. My Mom and I always have such a good time and I picked up a few new goodies that I’m crazy for.
Then, yesterday, Ali-Shaun and I went to the Galleria and tried on a ton of adorable things that I’ll be sharing with you in a big Black Friday post! This girl cracks me up and is such a good friend! If you haven’t met Ali-Shaun yet, you can find her here!
Now that we’re halfway into November and our Thanksgiving break officially starts this Friday- wait, what??!! This Friday?? I swear, this year it really snuck up on me that Thanksgiving is a week and a half away. As much as I love the holidays, panic is starting to creep in. What do I do? Stop. Breathe. Make a plan.
Today, I’m sharing what I do to help myself plan for the holidays so that I feel more calm and less stressed, so I can actually enjoy all the parts of the holidays. I truly believe the end of year has so much joy to offer. I love the decor, gift giving, parties, baking, getting together with family and friends, and time off from regular life just hanging out and eating and watching movies.
STRESS FREE HOLIDAY PLANNING
BUT, from now until the end of the year can also be stressful with all.the.things, so I wanted to share my tips for staying on top of it all, and most of all ENJOYING it! We celebrate Christmas, so that’s the holiday I mostly refer to, but I hope this post helps with all of your holiday planning regardless of what holiday you celebrate.
Matching Plaid Pajamas (Mom • James • Jordan) all on sale
ONE • SET ASIDE TIME TO PLAN
I actually love doing this, so I count it as part of the fun. But, it’s actually necessary because without a plan – written out on paper – all that stress and worry and trying to remember things will live in your brain and surely make you crazy. Or cranky. Or both.
Ideally, you’ll have a good hour or more to plan, or even a couple of days to sit down and plan. I love this Holiday Planner that my friend Erin made. It’s a FREE instant digital download that really helps you get all your planning in one place and make sure you don’t forget anything!
What I do is get out my calendar, start writing in all the important dates, events, and things I need to prepare for:
- Holiday parties
- Work parties
- School parties
- Holiday photo shoot
- Visit Santa
- Elf on a Shelf
- Put up Christmas Tree
- Look at Christmas lights
- Send Christmas cards
From there, you can work backwards making a bullet point list of everything that needs to happen for each event, including what you (and the kids) are going to wear if that helps too.
For our Favorite Things Party, we keep it simple and potluck, but I need to:
- send invites & track rsvps
- arrange childcare
- buy 3 of my favorite things!
- decide what I’m cooking/baking
- grocery shop
- clean the house
- set up gift table
- get gift bags & decor (Ali-Shaun and I go to the Dollar Store for that usually the weekend before)
- plan PJ outfit (Ali-Shaun always buys us matching PJ’s)
For the Kid’s Holiday Parties at school:
- meet with assistant homeroom moms to plan classroom party
- gather supplies for the party
- send classroom email to parents about the party
- plan the kids’ special outfits
- bring teacher gifts
- bring good camera to school (make sure battery is charged)
When you have the bullet point lists, you can then put those items on the calendar too. I try to batch like things or tasks/errands together. For example, if I need to buy the kids special outfits for their holiday program, I’ll see if they can wear the same thing in the Christmas card photos or on Christmas day. If not, I’ll still do all the clothes shopping at the same time.
But, I will say, before I get into all the Christmas planning and calendar, it’s a good idea to:
TWO • START WITH THANKSGIVING
Since Thanksgiving is upon us first, it makes the most sense to get all the Thanksgiving planning and preparation ready first. If you’re going somewhere for Thanksgiving, it’s easier- maybe you’re just bringing a side dish, dessert or bottle of wine. So you might just need to figure out what you’re going to wear and the time you need to leave.
Hyacinth Chargers • Gold Chargers • Dining Table • Dining Chairs • Candlestick Holders • Crystal Vase • Console Table • Thankful Napkins • Napkin Rings • Arm Chair • Leopard Pillows
If you are hosting, you might have to do more of the planning that goes along with hosting any party, including cleaning, menu prep, decorating, and coordinating pot luck items. Below are some of my favorite Fall decor items to help set the mood! And you can see my simple Fall home tour here.
Gold Bowl • White Pumpkins (12 piece set) • Wreath • Wooden Beads • Buffalo Check Pillow Covers • Cotton Stems • Gold Pumpkins • Fall Pillow Covers (set of 4) • Battery Operated Birch Candles • Lantern • Coffee Mug
If you are hosting and need more seating, an extra table, some linens or flatware, this post has you covered. All of these things are available on Amazon Prime, so you can get them in a jiffy!
Folding Chairs • Apron • Happy Fall Banner • Gold Candle Holders • Mercury Glass Votive Holders • Le Creuset Dutch Oven • Cheese Board • Turkey Serving Platter • Wine Opener • Wooden Place Cards & Holders • Plaid Tablecloth • Cloth napkins
THREE • PROTECT YOUR WHITE SPACE
By now, your holiday party invites and offers to volunteer or chauffeur or help or donate are probably pouring in. We always have the best of intentions and want to do as much as we can, but I’ve learned that I need to protect that ‘white space’ in my days.
White space is that buffer in your life that allows you to time to breathe so you’re not up to your eyeballs in commitments. It’s that extra breathing room in your life because things tend to pop up and if we’re already at the brim, the pot boils over.
I volunteer and help and agree and attend to a point. You have to know your own limit and your family’s’ because the commitments affect them too.
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via Simple as That
Here are some ways to simplify and protect your own white space:
- Make your holiday family gatherings potluck
- Don’t accept all the party invitations or WAIT to rsvp to make sure you really want to go
- Politely decline gift exchanges or draw names
- Limit your Christmas decor
- Do less, for example: If you’d rather stick a sharp needle in your eye than get everyone dressed and ready for a family photo shoot, don’t do it! You don’t have to! You could take a photo of the kids yourself, send cards without a photo, or skip it all together! There are no rules!
FOUR • DO THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOUR HEART HAPPY
I have a few things on my Christmas list that I enjoy so much, it includes: making baked French toast with Jordan on Christmas Eve, going to look at Christmas lights in matching family pajamas, putting up our holiday decor throughout the house, making cookies for Santa, buying gifts on the giving tree, donating to organizations close to my heart, going to the Nutcracker Market with my Mom, hosting our annual Favorite Things party, watching Christmas Vacation while drinking hot cocoa.
Those things bring me real joy, but they’re not always “perfect”. We can embrace the imperfect days and know that that’s just part of life. We’re making memories, even the ones that don’t look like the visions in our head or on Instagram.
Stand Mixer • Steel Measuring Cups • Boos Cutting Board • Glass Baking Dish with Lids • Similar Stripe Apron
I got flannel Christmas sheets for my son’s room this year and I cannot wait to see his face when he sees them! He loves decor as much as I do and I think he’s gonna be pretty excited about it! That makes me so happy!
We’ll be putting up this gorgeous wreath on our front door soon! Everytime I see it when I pull up to my house, I will smile!
FIVE • MAKE A BUDGET
I cannot stress this one enough because I think the two biggest stressors during the holidays are: 1) not having enough time to do all the things we want to do, and 2) spending more money than we should. I always set a Christmas budget and then break it down into a couple categories : gifts, decor, entertainment, and food/drinks.
Think about all those things you tend to spend money on so you’re not surprised by any “extra” expenses when they pop up. Here are some things to consider. I’m being overinclusive to give you an idea of where costs add up
- Gifts (family, friends, coworkers, teachers, extra tips for service people like mail carrier, cleaning lady, parties that include gift exchanges)
- Giving – school donations, toy drive, supporting charities
- Entertainment Events
- Family photos
- Holiday cards + stamps
- Gift wrap
SIX • HAVE A GIFT WRAP/STATIONERY BOX
When I go to wrap gifts, I like to have everything I need at hand, so I’ll create a little box or container with my favorite pens, gift tags, ribbon, bows, scissors, tape, and of course gift wrap. I make sure to get two big bows for the gifts from Santa in case he forgets;)
SEVEN • STOP & BREATHE
If you find yourself getting caught up in the stress of the season, stop for a minute and just breathe.
- Rest. Can you pour yourself a hot cup of your favorite tea in the evening, light a candle and just sit for a few minutes? It will do wonders.
- Enjoy the season. We all know it’s not about the gifts or food, but celebrating JESUS that gives us true life and knits us all together.
I got started on my Holiday Calendar this weekend, but I’m still making my lists and bullet points and putting things on my calendar. I’m using pencil so that I can change things or cancel if things get too crowded. I’d love to hear your best holiday planning tips in the comments.
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Now go kick Monday’s butt!
This is a great post! Feels like exactly what I needed to stop the swirl and get organized.
“Stop the swirl” – that describes it perfectly!
Great post! Hoping my sis in laws hosts Christmas since I have noted everything this year ( going to the beach with her family for Thanksgiving ,(yay!). My son is into arts and crafts this year so hoping for some fun activities with him this year. We love decorating our tree as lighting it in the evenings.
Excellent tips to plan ahead which I am sure will cut down on the holiday craziness!
This year I am determined to cut back and make it 100% about family time. Kiddos are getting 5 presents (something they need, something they want, something they can wear, something they can read, and something they can eat) and that’s it!
Also ordering your matching PJ set suggestion, so classic and cute!
I like your plan Rachel! The 5 gifts is something my girlfriend Jamie does too and it works really well for them!
I love posts like this. Helps us refocus on what is truly important. It’s so easy to get caught up in the materialistic side of the holidays and not focus on the most important things. My boys are young men now, but I would also decorate their beds with new holiday/winter sheets. They loved it! I love the little traditions that make the holidays special for each family. Love the PJ set idea, they would have loved that too!
This is my first time doing Christmas sheets and I love how they turned out! I can’t wait for him to see them today!!
I am doing this TONIGHT! Megan, what was the name of the book you recommended a few weeks ago…thinking it would make a great gift for me 🙂
Oh yes, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield! https://amzn.to/37lIDBK
This post is amazing and really helpful~thanks!
I’m so glad, that’s the goal! Thanks Jill!
Love this post! Made my Thanksgiving menu and grocery shopping list today! Both kiddos are December babies…so it’s a marathon this time of year. Turkey Day, Daughter’s Birthday, Son’s Birthday, then Christmas!
Oh wow, that’s a lot! Glad you’re getting on top of it today! I got the kids clothes for holiday photos! That was a big task because they needed shoes too!
Love everything about this post!
Is that a wallpaper in your sons room?
Thank you! Yes! His wallpaper is by Serena & Lily : https://shopstyle.it/l/baxnN
Would love the recipe for the french toast… That sounds so fun to have on Christmas.
Love this post!
Yes, we make it every year!