Before you know it, the holiday season will be underway. It seems like just yesterday that we took last year’s decorations down and put them away. But, alas…it is returning, and soon. I absolutely love this time of the year, filled with festivities, music, baking, and spending time with friends and family.
There is so much to look forward to, which means there is so much to do in preparation for it all. If you host parties, attend school events, and bake, you have a busy few weeks ahead of you. And, that’s not even including all the shopping and wrapping that you might have to do as well.
I am going to share a few ideas how you can prepare and approach this season head on, so you have less stress to enjoy it.
Tis the Season to Save
Well, maybe that should have started a few months ago already. But, even if you hadn’t started yet, start now. Any little bit you can put away for gifts, wrapping, or food can help.
Open up a side account at the bank to set a certain amount away for each pay period. If you want to add any more to it, sell a few items you no longer want on either eBay or Craigslist. Economic times of late, has driven more people to shop on these sites. So, if you have decent products to sell, you could put that money towards holiday expenses.
Let the Party Begin
Maybe not yet…but let the prep work begin at least. We host an annual holiday party each year and I thoroughly enjoy it. However, if I don’t prepare for it, the stress level goes up significantly. Here are 3 ways to prepare for a party:
- Clean up the Yard – Wash the exterior down, including the exterior shutters and doors, rake up the leaves, and put the summer and fall toys and tools away. Make the yard as attractive as possible, considering it’s usually a lovely shade of mud before the snow falls, if it does.
- Winter Cleaning Inside – A couple weeks before the party, do a thorough cleaning throughout the house, including the carpets, window treatments, blowing out the ductwork, and more. This will leave you with light maintenance for the week of the party…time you will be glad to have.
- Plan a Menu – Planning a menu ahead of time will help you with shopping, preparing foods, knowing if you have appropriate serving dishes, and what your schedule needs to be for the week of the party.
By doing all of this ahead of time, you will be able to relax more and enjoy your own party. I have done it both ways…prepared, and unprepared. Trust me on this, prepared is much easier and more enjoyable.
No Need for the Running Shoes at the Mall
If you have ideas on what you need to purchase for the holidays, you are already ahead of the game. If not, start looking at websites, around the stores, and asking people what they might want this year.
Once you have ideas, there are ways to save money, time, and even headaches. So, unless you like the last minute rush the night before, you might want to pay attention here.
First, go to various websites where you think you might be shopping the most. Typically, these sites will allow you to make a ‘wish list’ that you can create with the items you are hoping to get. You can then print this list out, either at home or at the store. It makes it easier to have the barcodes, which will be printed on the wish list, in case you can’t find an item. An additional bonus to this is you can let others know about this list for ideas for you and the kids.
Also, knowing ahead of time provides you time to find items on sale, or use coupons. This is true for both gifts and food. It is also true for shopping in person, as well as online. However, if you are going to shop online, which is how I do the majority of my shopping, pay close attention to shipping rates and delivery estimates. This time of the year, many sites offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount spent…so, keep that in mind.
And finally, there is layaway. This is great for not having to dole out large amounts of money at once. I have used it before, and will continue to do so for that reason alone. But, it also means less time of having to ‘hide’ the gifts in the home.
Do You Smell what I Smell?
It is that time of the year where even the non-bakers love to…or at least do bake. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without all the goodies, would it? However, finding time can be a huge challenge for many of us. So, I have some ideas to save you time here as well.
Plan ahead what you are going to make. Write it down and organize it by how long in advance it can be made. For example, peanut brittle will stay fresh longer than baked cookies, bread, or pies. And, some sweets can be frozen for a couple weeks until you are ready for them, or at least the dough.
After you know what you are going to make, create a list of what you will need. There will most likely be items you can purchase ahead of time such as flour, sugar, butter, and much more. This will save time on the days you are baking, and also give you a chance to save money with sales and coupons.
Other time-saving tips would be the following:
- Non-baked cookies
- Microwave peanut brittle (tastes just as good)
- Prepared pie crusts
- Measure and ‘bag’ dry ingredients ahead of time (just make sure to label them wisely)
I have tried all of the above, with great success. In fact, one of my husband’s favorite holiday treats is an old Dutch treat called Banket, which has been in my family for years. My grandmothers and mom all made the dough from scratch. But, I thought I would try prepared pie crust, when I had leftover paste one year…and it was great.
There you have it. Easy ways to prepare for the holidays ahead of time to help save time, money, and even stress. From our home to yours…Happy Holidays!
Kathy Barber is a freelance writer, who enjoys writing from the heart. When she was visiting the site www.sunbeltshutters.com she realized she could combine her passion for home improvement and the holidays, to create a series on preparing the home for the holidays. Kathy also writes on topics such as health issues, online business, and home brewing. When she is not working, she loves to spend time with her son and husband. Residing in Michigan, she also enjoys camping, sporting events, and volunteering for her son’s school activities.