Whether or not you agree with the early launch, one thing is undeniable: the holidays creep up on us faster than Christmas music in your local grocery store. And if you don’t get ahead of it, you could be in for a stressful season.
Luckily, there are things you can do now to avoid stress later. Check these 10 to-do’s off your holiday list to relieve pressure and put the focus on fun:
- Nail down travel
There’s nothing more terrifying than last-minute airfare prices. If you’re flying this season, and still haven’t booked your tickets, do it fast. Then, set reminders to pause your mail and other services. If you’re traveling by car, get your tuneup scheduled and start mapping your route. Keep your road trip fun by researching points of interest and tasty eateries along the way.
- Start a running list of gift ideas
Use your smartphone the smart way, by keeping a list of gift ideas. You never know when Uncle Frank will mention a little-known hobby, so taking the time to save the tip in your phone will be good for future reference. A helpful time-saver is to wrap gifts as you get them. This way, you won’t need to pull an all-nighter with an inevitable shortage of gift bags.
- Tuck away extra money
Holiday expenses start adding up. From gifts to decorations to overpriced pumpkin pie, unforeseen costs lurk in the most spirited of places. Many banks offer holiday accounts, and with direct deposit, you won’t have to think about transfers or balances. Even an old-fashioned money jar to collect the spare cash in your pockets can help ease money matters later.
- Make a meal plan and grocery list
If you’re hosting the festivities this year, you can easily get a jumpstart on planning the holiday menu. Then, create a grocery list so you can grab it and go right before your guests arrive. Look for recipes that are easy to freeze, like fudge or dessert bars — and don’t forget freeze-able non-holiday meals, like chili for lunch or a tasty breakfast quiche.
- Post a shared calendar of holiday events
Perhaps the most hectic part of the holidays is keeping up with all the events — especially if there are multiple people in your household. Posting a shared calendar in a common location (like on the fridge or your phone) can help everyone stay on the same page. Holding weekly huddles around the calendar can help you address who’s going where, and what you need to buy or prepare.
- Start a healthy routine now
It’s hard to be healthy over the holidays. Schedules are busier than ever, and there are cookies everywhere. Help yourself stick with a healthy routine by starting one now. Locking yourself into a weekly exercise class or daily walk will help train your brain to keep it going. And committing to a healthier way of eating will help you resist that extra eggnog.
- Reserve group activities
For some, the holidays are the only time of year that friends or families come together. So outings such as new release movies or sporting events tend to book up quickly. Set reminders for on-sale dates, and if you’ve already missed them, put them on the calendar for next year. If you’re stuck on what to do with a group, check online or your local listings for fun holiday ideas.
- Start decluttering
Yes, mess causes stress. Minimize it over the holidays, by clearing out clutter today. If you’ll be entertaining guests, take an inventory of what you need: bed linens, games, extra toilet paper. Then plan a day where you can truly set everything aside and clean. Even if you’re not hosting this holiday, decluttering will help you better navigate the craziness that can come with the season.
- Build self-care into your plan
Self-care is the last thing you’ll think about when the holidays hit. Yet it’s the first thing you’ll need. Make a plan to “sneak” self-care into your upcoming routine. Book a massage, plan a walk with friends or simply opt out of an activity or two. Finding a small dose of peace and quiet can help you reconnect with yourself, and mellow your mind from anxieties.
- Plan a reward for yourself
After weeks of holiday planning, adding one more to-do may seem outrageous, but planning something special for yourself, as a reward for your hard work, is a great way to keep up your enthusiasm. Whether it’s a weekend away or a trip to the spa, give yourself a pat on the back for managing a fun, yet busy, holiday season.