Start Planning for the Holidays Now

The ongoing supply-chain issues that emerged after the #pandemic have many people wondering if their holiday plans will be upended for a second year in a row in spite of effective vaccines and loosened restrictions.

We at The Organizing Blog can’t predict whether all of the gifts you want to buy will be available, if there will be shortages of turkeys or if your flights will be cancelled. But it can’t hurt to plan ahead!

For example, you might want start shopping for gifts today. CNBC says that consumer demand will be high, while slowdowns at manufacturing facilities and ports of call worldwide will affect supplies of many of the things people want and need.

Think about what the people on your gift list might like starting now. If you can get the jump on buying those things, it will free up more time as the holidays draw near, keep you from stressing about gifts last-minute and spread the costs over several months.

Minted suggests creating a budget and gift list eight weeks out from Christmas — and that’s next week. If you plan to have a family photoshoot, you can also set the date and start getting your mailing list together for holiday cards.

You may also wish to stock up on the foodstuffs you’ll use to create Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. Early in the pandemic, staples such as flour and butter sold out on grocery shelves; buy them now so that you can treat your family to cookies and pies.

A good #decluttering and #cleaning will help prepare your home for holiday parties and other goings-on. Clear and dust any surfaces where you’ll display holiday knickknacks and check the string lights. It will help stage your home for the holidays that much faster.

As for the #stuff you declutter, bag any lightly used clothing and household items and contact ClothingDonations.org for a #donation pickup. Your #donations will be resold to help fund veterans programs, so you’ll be spreading good cheer all season long.

The holidays were stressful enough before the global pandemic, but #COVID-19 has brought new challenges to annual celebrations. Prepare for them early, and you can sail through the holidays with as few disruptions as possible.

Store the Holidays Away Sensibly

Even the most diehard #holiday celebrators will admit that it’s finally time to take down the tree, wind up the lights and box up the tchotchkes for most of the year ahead. They’ve communicated your holiday cheer dutifully for several weeks, and it’s time to give them a rest.

A little ingenuity will help you pack away and preserve those holiday items for next Christmas. And a little judicious weeding out will save you some space so that holiday clutter can’t get the best of you next season.

First, of course, is the weeding out. As you take down the lights, toss any strings that no longer work and can’t be fixed with a simple swap of bulbs. And throw away damaged ornaments and other decorative items — the only place to stores trash is in the circular file.

You’ll want to preserve what you keep to create that winter wonderland again quickly, so take time to sort, organize and store decorations carefully. Good Housekeeping offers a number of clever ways to keep thing safe and organized for the months they’ll spend in the attic, garage or basement.

Wrap string lights around squares of notched cardboard so they can’t tangle when stored, for example, and put fragile ornaments in plastic cups or egg containers to keep them from getting crushed. Bag any artificial wreaths to keep them dust-free, and consider shrink-wrapping the tree.

Remember to label all bins and boxes with their contents, even if you opt for clear-plastic containers. If you really want to streamline 2020 decorating, The Spruce says, you can number your bins to know which ones should be reopened first.

After all, the biggest benefit of getting decorations organized as you put them away for the season is that you’ll be able to locate and use them easily next fall! The holidays are hectic enough without your having to hunt down every item or buy it again.

If there are still-useful items you just don’t want to store or display next year, bag them and contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup. They will be resold to benefit veterans’ initiatives, and other families will be able to use them to create holiday cheer.

It can be bittersweet to take down and shelve your holiday decorations, but that’s what makes the season so special. Get #organized, and this year’s holiday season will be better — and more stress-free — than ever.

How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday

By the time you read this, the year’s extraordinarily short #holiday shopping season will be nearly over. If you haven’t completed your shopping by now, you’ll have to pay for overnight shipping or brave the last-minute crowds at an old-school retail store.

As the clock winds down, you may also have meals to prepare and gifts to wrap. You may need to do an airport run to help far-flung family members join in the fun. You may even need to fit all of these activities in around your work schedule.

That’s a lot of stress. But there are ways to defuse that stress and enjoy the holidays.

The first is to know when you’ve done enough. Striving to create the “perfect” holiday can drive you nuts. There may be a few “nice to haves” or traditions that you just can’t fit into the holiday plan this year — and that’s OK. The sun will rise and set without them.

If you’re short a gift, you can give cash, buy a gift card or sign your giftee up for a subscription service that periodically delivers coffee, tea or wine. There are also plenty of all-digital gift options that can help show you care instantaneously.

Take advantage of services that take some of the work off your hands. Retailers are only too happy to wrap that gift or assemble that piece of furniture. The local bakery can provide a pie, and you can ask guests to bring a side dish.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when the big event arrives. A thoughtful guest will volunteer, of course, but many people may need reminding as they celebrate with family and friends. This is a great way to keep kids occupied ahead of a gift grab.

You can set deadlines on what you need to get done, but build in an hour or two of serenity to maintain your sanity. “Head outdoors for a refreshing change of scene,” Woman’s Day suggests. “Take a starlit nighttime stroll through your neighborhood to view the holiday lights.”

You don’t have to do it all — and even if you could, it wouldn’t add to your enjoyment of the holiday season or anyone else’s. Focus on the big picture and know when to “say when,” and you’ll be able to create warm holiday memories without the stress.

Homemade Foods Make Great Holiday Gifts

Having trouble deciding what to give family and friends? There’s one thing you can give that everyone needs and appreciates — food! HGTV offers 45 easy-to-make recipes for mouthwatering seasonal treats that are equally good for entertaining or gifting. Whether you try your hand at toffee or fudge, marmalade or bread, crinkle cookies or caramels, giftees will appreciate the time and effort you put in to create holiday cheer from scratch before devouring your tasty treats. You can make extra so that you have some on hand for those surprise guests, too!

Make the Most of Black Friday

There are plenty of ways to maximize the savings Black Friday offers, says money-saving site Clark.com. Sign up for e-mail promotions at your favorite retailers before you head out to the stores, for example, and price-check items against the web while in stores. Make a list of the retailers you most want to visit and bring a friend who’s similarly motivated to find deals. But leave the kids at home if you want to do some serious shopping — you don’t need the distractions. Shop early or late to avoid the worst crowds, and above all, remember that not every low price is truly a deal.