Apr 212012
 

Stress Busting Holiday Planner

By Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

You don’t have time to read an entire book about holiday organization. You’re getting ready for Christmas, but you remember all the stress of Christmas Seasons Past? Relax! Follow this organizational strategy, and you will breeze through an enjoyable stress-free holiday season! Are you stressed about how to plan a party or event? No worries! I will outline how to prepare for a cookie baking holiday party. I have also outlined how to prepare for a Christmas Eve dinner with turkey as the main course. Let’s get started!

The Strategy for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

1. Identify major task areas.  A “task area” is a task, event, or activity that will require time and effort to organize.  Several common task areas are listed below.

2. Break down each task into components. Every task area can be broken down into components or “to do” items.  The components of the major task areas have also been identified below. Of course, any component can be broken down into manageable tasks.

3. Plan a time line for completing each task area.  Create a time line using a week-by-week format that includes the components for each task area.  A sample time line has been developed below in non-calendar format. 

Major Task Areas of Holiday Preparation: Christmas Cards or Email, Decorating, Gifts, Holiday Activities, Holiday Party, Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal, and Christmas Morning Preparation.

Components of Major Task Areas of Holiday Preparation

 CHRISTMAS CARDS OR EMAIL

1. Make adjustments (add new addresses and emails, delete incorrect addresses and emails) to your Christmas card address file. Decide upon the number of Christmas cards to purchase or how many e-cards you will send.

2. Shop for and purchase Christmas cards, or design your own card/letter for emailing.

3. Purchase Christmas stamps.

4. Address Christmas cards or set up an email template or signature.

5. Sign and write notes in Christmas cards. Write a personal note for each email using the email template as a backdrop and send the email.

6. Seal, stamp, and send Christmas cards that will be mailed.

7. Make changes to your Christmas card file as you learn of new addresses and have cards returned in the mail.

DECORATING

1. Purchase new items to compliment the decorations that you presently own on sale throughout the year.

2. Order catalog or on-line items that you purchase each year (e.g., decorations with the year marked on them).

3. Hang outside decorations.

4. Decorate the interior of your home.

5. Purchase or cut wood for the fireplace.

6. Purchase and decorate the Christmas tree.

7. Hang wreaths, boughs, and other living or recently cut items.

8. Hang stockings by the fireplace.

After the holiday:

9. Take down Christmas tree decorations.  Cut up or recycle the tree. Recycle other plant-based items.

10. Return interior decorations to storage bins and boxes. Place decorations for each room in separate containers. Label containers.

11. Dismantle and store exterior decorations.

 GIFTS

1. Make up a gift recipient list. Include a possible gift and alternative gift for each recipient.  Begin looking for sales that might include gift items. 

2. Begin making homemade items.

3. Review parenting magazines for “best toy” recommendations.

4. Get one roll of wrapping paper and gift tags for “from Santa” presents.

5. Organize gift exchange with extended family members and/or friends.

6. Make Christmas paper or gift tags using stencils, last year’s Christmas Cards or Email, and other festive ideas.

7. Wrap presents as they are purchased.

8. Purchase hostess gifts to take to parties which you will attend.

9. Mail presents to out of town recipients.

10. Write thank you notes.

 ACTIVITIES

1. Review a list of last year’s community-based holiday related activities. Contact event organizers to find out the date of the activity this year.  Decide upon activities that you would like to participate in.  Make notes on your calendar to remind yourself to look for the events (e.g., Breakfast with Santa).

2. Purchase tickets to Christmas related ballets, symphonies, sing-a-longs, and other musical events.

3. Begin looking for activities in community calendars for new and interesting events.  Contact event organizers for the dates of activities that you participate in annually (e.g., school Christmas play).

4. Make a list of holiday television programs that you and your family would like to watch. Begin scanning television listings for viewing times.

5. Have children prepare a “letter to Santa” and a wish list.

6. Purchase and use an advent calendar.

7. Order a festive bingo game for all the special children in your life from http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com .

8. Play Christmas music. Be sure to have music to play in your car. Record Christmas programs on television and the radio for early holiday merry making next year.

9. Take children for pictures with Santa or family Christmas photos.

10. Spend a family evening looking at Christmas decorations in your neighborhood.

11. Have children help you bake or decorate Christmas cookies.

12. Attend parties to which you have been invited.

13. Participate in family rituals that are related to Christmas.

HOLIDAY PARTY (and example for a cookie baking party)

1. Decide whether or not to have a holiday party.

2. Search on-line, in holiday books, and in back issues of magazines for unique theme ideas (e.g., a cookie baking party as described below).

3. Purchase non-holiday items (e.g., red candles for your table) that are available on sale.

4. Assemble a guest list.

5. Purchase, address, stamp, and mail party invitations. Be sure to describe the party theme (if there is one) and instructions of what to bring (if the invitee is responsible for bringing any item). 

If you are having a cookie baking party, include a note in the invitation that each invitee will be preparing a batch of cookies during the party, so everyone can learn how to make the cookie. The attendees will be responsible for bringing any unusual items (e.g., jam) or utensils (a mold) that are necessary to complete their recipe. All of the cookies will be divided at the end of the party, placed on plates, and taken home by the cooks.  I would suggest scheduling the party to begin in the late afternoon.  Then, you can easily add a prepare-ahead (i.e., stew) or bring-in dinner (i.e., pizza) that can be attended by spouses or partners.  Sugar cookies can be prepared before the party for children to decorate during the party.  Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that the attendees can assemble and decorate while their cookies are in the oven or have been prepared. 

6. Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below).

Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

 

 Invitee:                                   adults                          kids

Hill                                          1                                  1

Elder                                       1                                  2

Martinez                                  1

Young                                      1

Tubbs                                      1                                  1

Lee                                         1

Total                                       6                                  4

Spouses to attend dinner:  4

 7. Contact each person who will join you in order to learn what recipe he or she will be preparing.  Ask that the participants bring any special or unusual items for their recipes as well as a copy of the recipe for others to have.

8. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

9. Make a tentative plan for the order that the cookies will be baked in given the amount of oven and microwave space that you have.

10. Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that everyone will decorate.

11. Prepare sugar cookies for children to decorate.

12. Shop for the party.

Cookie Party Shopping Ingredients:

            Mulled apple cider to drink during party: apple cider, and mulling spices.

            Cooking ingredients and decorating ideas for ginger bread houses: flour, roll out sugar cookie dough (for kids), sugar, raisins, powdered sugar, food color (red & green), brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, coconut flakes, milk, Crisco, eggs, Eagle Brand condensed milk, butter, baking chocolate, vanilla, peppermints (red, green), almonds, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, miniature marshmallows, graham crackers, molasses, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, etc.).

            Decorating Ingredients for sugar cookies for kids:  sprinkles (red, green, blue), tubes of frosting, frosting (vanilla), chips (chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter), kisses, M&M’s, jelly beans, and candy canes.

          Containers: Christmas cookie containers, Christmas plastic wrap or cellophane paper to cover, ribbon to wrap up cookies.

         Drinks: soda, juices, red wine, white wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea.

         Snacks: cheeses, spreads, crackers, and chips/pretzels for kids.

         Utensils: paper plates, plastic silverware, plastic glasses, and napkins.

         Dinner: ingredients for stew, chili, or soup.  Alternatively, plan to bring in dinner (e.g., pizza, Chinese take-out food, etc.).

12. Clean all baking pans, mixing bowls, and cooking utensils that will be used by the cooks.

13. Clear counter space in the kitchen so each cook will have adequate room to work. Place an apron and a cleaning cloth in each cook’s workspace. 

14. Organize counter space or clear a table for the children work on. Set up decorating ingredients.

15. Arrange ingredient and cookware areas.

16. Set up a cooling area so the cookies can cool without being disturbed.

17. Use a crock pot to heat the mulled apple cider.

18. Place everything that is necessary for dinner in one place.  That includes plates, utensils, drinks, etc.

19. Organize a wrapping area with plates, cellophane paper, ribbons, and scissors.

20. Place snacks in bowls.

21. Turn on Christmas music.

22. Light fire in fireplace.

CHRISTMAS/CHRISTMAS EVE MEAL (Example: Christmas Eve dinner with roasted turkey as the main course)

1. Review menu from last year’s Christmas meal. Consider adjusting menu items, as well as the amount of food and drink items that are necessary for guests.

2. Purchase non-holiday items that are available (e.g., red candles for your table) on sale.

3. Arrange for extra help on Christmas Eve.

4. Prepare Christmas Eve party invitations.  Be sure to put an R.S.V.P. deadline.

5. Mail or email Christmas Eve party invitations.

6. Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below).

Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

Attending:                              adults                          kids

Smith                                      2                                  2

Jones                                      2                                  2

Young                                      2

Rush                                        2

Lee                                         1

Washington                            decline

Rodriguez                              2

Monroe                                  2                                4

Total                                    13                                8

7. Order meat items from butcher (e.g., turkey, stock, giblets, etc.).

8. Order bakery goods (e.g. dinner rolls, pies, etc.).

9. Order liquor (e.g., wine, champagne, and liquors).

10. Place an order for rental items (tables, chairs, napkins, tablecloths, tablecloth for child’s table, punch bowl, etc.). Mark the delivery date on your calendar. Make arrangements of where to leave items in case you are not home when they are delivered.

11. Clean carpets and area rugs.

12. Wash exterior windows.                   

13. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

14. Check non-rented table linens to make sure they are clean. Clean items as necessary.

15. Clean or polish floors.

16. Tune piano or other musical instruments.

17. Purchase special table items for children (e.g., a candy cane for each place setting).

18. Purchase Christmas potpourri.

19. Purchase batteries and charge all AV equipment for Christmas meal memories.  Check camera and video camera. 

20. Purchase a Christmas puzzle, Christmas video, and/or other Christmas related activity for the children to use after dinner.

21.  Compile shopping list for Christmas Eve/Day dinner:

 Christmas Eve Dinner Ingredients:     

 Christmas Mugs: Apple cider and mulling spices.

 Turkey:  turkey, giblets, and chicken broth.

 Stuffing: White bread, chicken broth, celery, onions, dried cranberries, butter, and spices.

 Gravy: Chicken broth, spices, and flour.

 Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes, butter, milk, and salt.

 Jell-O Salad: Lemon Jell-O, cranberry sauce, walnuts, celery, pineapple (crushed), and salad bowl lettuce (to place under the salad on plates).

Sweet Potatoes in Oranges: oranges, yams, brown sugar, milk, butter, miniature marshmallows, and candied cherries (marshmallows and cherries are for decorations).

Peas: Peas, butter, and spices.

Carrots: Carrots, butter, and spices.

Dinner Rolls

Condiments for Tables: crab apples, cranberry sauce, and mint jelly.

Drinks: Water, champagne, sparkling cider, soda, wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, and herb tea.

Desserts: Mince pie, homemade cookies, Yule log, and candy.

22. Purchase dry/canned/frozen products.

23. Purchase non-baked dessert items (e.g., candy).

24. Polish silver and other serving items.

25. Clean crystal and glass stemware.

26. Contact extra helpers a few days before the party to make sure they will be there on time. Prepare a check to have ready before the party.

27. Pick-up or arrange for delivery of all ordered items.

28. Purchase perishable items.

29. Prepare “make ahead” items (e.g., casseroles, stuffing, cookies, pies, etc.)

30. Fill salt & pepper shakers.

31. Grind coffee.

32. Complete party set-up (e.g., arrange tables, set up place settings, arrange flowers and centerpieces/candles, set up mulled cider table, set up a buffet and/or dessert table, set up a coffee/tea table).

33. Use the gingerbread house that was made at your cookie baking party as a centerpiece or decoration for the desert table.

34. Lay out all items necessary for stuffing and baking the turkey. Stuff turkey and place in the oven.

35. Place sodas, white wine, champagne, and other cooled drinks in tubs of ice adjacent to the party area.

36. Peel and mash potatoes.

37. Prepare other main course items.

39. Turn on Christmas music and lights.

40. Light fire in the fireplace.

41. Prepare mulled cider.

After the party:

42. Clean table linens.

43. Pack away centerpieces and other party decorations.

44. Stack rental items for pick-up. Be sure to count napkins and other rented linen items prior to pick-up.

45. Pack away silver, crystal, and other serving items.

46. Store Christmas candles and other items that can be re-used next year.

CHRISTMAS MORNING PREPARATION

1. Purchase batteries for Christmas morning memories.  Check camera and video camera. Charge and replace batteries as necessary.

2. Purchase coordinating Christmas pajamas to give to the children on Christmas Eve.

3. Purchase breakfast items to have on hand for Christmas morning.  Be sure to plan an easy-to-fix breakfast.

4. Have children leave a plate of cookies out for Santa before they go to bed.

5. Present children with special Christmas pajamas to wear in anticipation for Christmas morning.

6. Place gifts by the tree.

7. Jingle bells outside of children’s window or on roof so they hear Santa leaving.

SAMPLE TIME LINE

SEPTEMBER

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Make adjustments (add new addresses, delete incorrect addresses) to your Christmas card address file.

2. Decide upon the number of Christmas Cards or Email to purchase.

 Gifts:

1. Make up a gift recipient list. Include a possible gift and alternative gift for each recipient.  Begin looking for sales that might include gift items. 

2. Begin making homemade items.

OCTOBER

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Shop for and purchase Christmas cards or design an email template for holiday emails.

Decorating:

1. Purchase new items to compliment the decorations that you presently own.

2. Order catalog or on-line items that you purchase each year (e.g., decorations with the year marked on them).

Gifts:

1. Review parenting magazines for “best toy” recommendations.

2. Get one roll of wrapping paper and gift tags. for “from Santa” presents

3. Organize gift exchange with extended family members and/or friends.

 Activities:

1. Review a list of last year’s community-based holiday related activities. Contact event organizers to find out the date of the activity this year.  Decide upon activities that you would like to participate in.  Make notes on your calendar to remind yourself to look for the events (e.g., Breakfast with Santa).

 Holiday Party:

1. Decide whether or not to have a holiday party.

2. Search on-line, in holiday books, and in back issues of magazines for unique theme ideas (e.g., a cookie baking party as described below).

3. Purchase non-holiday items (e.g., red candles for your table) that are available on sale.

 Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Review menu from last year’s Christmas meal. Consider adjusting menu items, as well as the amount of food and drink items that are necessary for guests.

2. Purchase non-holiday items that are available (e.g., red candles for your table) on sale.

 NOVEMBER

 Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Purchase Christmas stamps.

2. Address Christmas cards.

3. Sign and write notes in Christmas cards or email. Use holiday email template to send personalized emails.

4. Seal, stamp, and send Christmas cards.

Decorating:

1. Hang outside decorations on Thanksgiving weekend.

2. Purchase or cut wood for the fireplace.

 Gifts:

1. Make Christmas paper or gift tags using stencils, last year’s Christmas Cards or Email, and other festive ideas.

2. Wrap presents as they are purchased.

 Activities:

1. Purchase tickets to Christmas related ballets, symphonies, sing-a-longs, and other musical events.

2. Have children prepare a “letter to Santa” and a wish list.

3. Begin looking for activities in community calendars for new and interesting events.  Contact event organizers for the dates of activities that you participate in annually (e.g., school Christmas play).

4. Make a list of holiday television programs that you and your family would like to watch. Begin scanning television listings for viewing times.

 Holiday Party:

1. Assemble a guest list.

2. Purchase, address, stamp, and mail party invitations. Be sure to describe the party theme (if there is one) and instructions of what to bring (if the invitee is responsible for bringing any item). 

If you are having a cookie baking party, explain that the invitee will be preparing a batch of cookies during the party. The attendees will be responsible for bringing any unusual items (e.g., jam) or utensils (a mold) that are necessary to complete their recipe. All of the cookies will be divided at the end of the party, placed on plates, and taken home by the cooks.  I would suggest having the party begin in the late afternoon.  Then, you can easily add a prepare-ahead (i.e., stew) or bring-in dinner (i.e., pizza) that can be attended by spouses or partners.  Sugar cookies can be prepared before the party for children to decorate during the party.  Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that the attendees can assemble and decorate while their cookies are in the oven or have been prepared. 

3. Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below).

Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

 

 Invitee:                                   adults                          kids

Hill                                          1                                  1

Elder                                       1                                  2

Martinez                                 1

Young                                     1

Tubbs                                     1                                  1

Lee                                         1

 

Total                                        6                                  4

Spouses to attend dinner:  4

 Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Arrange for people to help you on Christmas Eve.

2. Prepare Christmas Eve invitations.  Be sure to put an R.S.V.P. deadline.

3. Mail Christmas Eve invitations.

Prepare an invitation response chart (sample listed below)

            Invitees: Smith, Jones, Young, Rush, Lee, Washington, and Rodriguez

 

 Attending:                              adults                          kids

Smith                                     2                                  2

Jones                                      2                                  2

Young                                     2

Rush                                       2

Lee                                         1

Washington                            decline

Rodriguez                              2

Monroe                                  2                                4

Total                                    22                                8

Christmas Morning Preparation:

1. Purchase batteries, film and videotape for Christmas morning memories.  Check camera and video camera. Charge and replace batteries as necessary.

 2. Purchase coordinating Christmas pajamas to give to the children on Christmas Eve.

DECEMBER

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Make changes to your Christmas card file as you learn of new addresses/emails and have cards returned in the mail.

 Decorating:

1. Decorate the interior of your home.

2. Purchase and decorate the Christmas tree.

3. Hang stockings by the fireplace.

4. Hang wreaths, boughs, and other living or recently cut items.

Gifts:

1. Purchase hostess gifts to take to parties which you will attend.

2. Mail presents to out of town recipients.

Activities:

1. Purchase and use an advent calendar.

2. Order a bingo game for all the special children in your life from http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com .

3. Play Christmas music. Have music to play in your car! Record Christmas programs on television and the radio for early holiday merry making next year.

4. Take children for pictures with Santa or family Christmas photos.

5. Spend a family evening looking at Christmas decorations in your neighborhood.

6. Have children help you bake or decorate Christmas cookies.

7. Attend parties to which you have been invited.

8. Participate in family rituals that are related to Christmas.

Holiday Party:

1. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

2. Contact each person who will join you in order to learn what recipe he or she will be preparing.  Ask that the participants bring any special or unusual items for their recipes as well as a copy of the recipe for others to have.

3. Make a tentative plan for the order that the cookies will be baked in given the amount of oven and microwave space that you have.

4. Bake pieces for a large gingerbread house that everyone will decorate.

5. Prepare sugar cookies for children to decorate.

6. Shop for the party.

Cookie Party Shopping Ingredients:

            Mulled apple cider to drink during party: apple cider, and mulling spices.

            Cooking ingredients and decorating ideas for ginger bread houses: flour, roll out sugar cookie dough (for kids), sugar, raisins, powdered sugar, food color (red & green), brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, coconut flakes, milk, Crisco, eggs, Eagle Brand condensed milk, butter, baking chocolate, vanilla, peppermints (red, green), almonds, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, miniature marshmallows, graham crackers, molasses, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, etc.).

             Decorating Ingredients for sugar cookies for kids:  sprinkles (red, green, blue), tubes of frosting, frosting (vanilla), chips (chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter), kisses, M&M’s, jelly beans, and candy canes.

          Containers: Christmas cookie containers, Christmas plastic wrap or cellophane paper to cover, ribbon to wrap up cookies.

          Drinks: soda, juices, red wine, white wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea.

          Snacks: cheeses, spreads, crackers, and chips/pretzels for kids.

          Utensils: paper plates, plastic silverware, plastic glasses, and napkins.

Dinner: ingredients for stew, chili, or soup.  Alternatively, plan on a bring-in dinner (e.g., pizza, Chinese take-out food, etc.).

1. Clean all baking pans, mixing bowls, and cooking utensils that will be used by the cooks.

2. Clear counter space in the kitchen so each cook will have adequate room to work. Place an apron and a cleaning cloth in each cook’s workspace. 

3. Set-up counter space or clear a table for the children work on. Set up decorating ingredients.

4. Set-up ingredient and cookware areas.

5. Set-up a cooling area so the cookies can cool without being disturbed.

6. Set-up a beverage area for the mulled apple cider.

7. Place everything that is necessary to set-up for dinner in one place.  That would include plates, utensils, drinks, etc.

8. Set-up a wrapping area with plates, cellophane paper, ribbons, and scissors.

Set-up snacks.

9. Turn on Christmas music.

10. Light fire in the fireplace.

11. Warm mulled cider.

Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Place order with butcher (e.g., turkey, stock, etc.).

2. Place order with bakery (e.g. dinner rolls, pies, etc.).

3. Place order for liquor (e.g., wine, champagne, and liquors).

4. Place an order for rental items (tables, chairs, napkins, tablecloths, tablecloth for child’s table, punch bowl, etc.) Mark the delivery date on your calendar. Make arrangements of where to leave items in case you are not home when they are delivered.

5. Have carpets cleaned.

6. Have windows washed.                     

7. Call invitees who have non-responded by the R.S.V.P. deadline.

Check table linens to make sure they are clean. Clean items as necessary.

8. Arrange for floors to be polished.

9. Arrange for piano to be tuned.

10. Purchase special table items for children (e.g., a candy cane for each place setting).

11. Purchase Christmas potpourri.

12. Purchase batteries, film and videotape for Christmas meal memories.  Check camera and video camera. Charge and replace batteries as necessary.

13. Purchase a Christmas puzzle, Christmas video, and/or other Christmas related activity for the children to use after dinner.

14. Begin shopping for the meal.

Christmas Eve Dinner Ingredients:     

Christmas Mugs: Apple cider and mulling spices.

Turkey:  turkey, giblets, and chicken broth.

Stuffing: White bread, chicken broth, celery, onions, dried cranberries, butter, and spices.

Gravy: Chicken broth, spices, and flour.

Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes, butter, milk, and salt.

Jell-O Salad: Lemon Jell-O, cranberry sauce, walnuts, celery, pineapple (crushed), and salad bowl lettuce (to place under the salad on plates).

Sweet Potatoes in Oranges: oranges, yams, brown sugar, milk, butter, miniature marshmallows, and candied cherries (marshmallows and cherries are for decorations).

Peas: Peas, butter, and spices.

Carrots: Carrots, butter, and spices.

Dinner Rolls

Condiments for Tables: crab apples, cranberry sauce, and mint jelly.

Drinks: Water, champagne, sparkling cider, soda, wine, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, and herb tea.

Desserts: Mince pie, homemade cookies, Yule log, and candy.

15. Purchase dry/canned/frozen products.

16. Purchase non-baked dessert items (e.g., candy).

17. Polish silver and other serving items.

18. Clean crystal and glass stemware.

19. Double check with extra help a few days before the party to make sure they will be there on time. Prepare a check to have ready before the party.

20. Pick-up or arrange for delivery of all ordered items.

21. Purchase perishable items.

22. Prepare “make ahead” items (e.g., casseroles, stuffing, cookies, pies, etc.)

23. Shop for all perishable items.

24. Fill salt & pepper shakers.

25. Grind coffee.

26. Complete party set-up (e.g., arrange tables, set place settings, arrange flowers and centerpieces/candles, set up mulled cider table, set up a buffet and/or dessert table, set up a coffee/tea table).

27. Use the gingerbread house that was made at your cookie baking party as a centerpiece or decoration for a desert table.

28. Lay out all items necessary for stuffing and baking the turkey. Stuff turkey and place in the oven.

29. Place sodas, white wine, champagne, and other cooled drinks in tubs of ice adjacent to the party area.

30. Peel and mash potatoes.

31. Prepare other main course items

32. Turn on Christmas music and lights.

33. Light fire in the fireplace.

34. Prepare mulled cider.

35. Clean table linens.

36. Pack away centerpieces and other party decorations.

37. Stack rental items for pick-up. Be sure to count napkins and other rented linen items prior to pick-up.

Christmas Morning Preparation:

1. Purchase breakfast items to have on hand for Christmas morning.  Be sure to plan an easy-to-fix breakfast.

2. Have children leave a plate of cookies out for Santa before they go to bed.

3. Present children with special Christmas pajamas to wear in anticipation for Christmas morning.

4. Place gifts by the tree.

5. Jingle bells outside of children’s window or on roof so they hear Santa leaving.

January

Christmas Cards or Email:

1. Make changes to your Christmas card file as you learn of new addresses and have cards returned in the mail.

 Decorating:

1. Take down Christmas tree decorations.  Cut up or recycle the tree. Recycle other plant-based items.

2. Put away interior decorations. Place decorations for each room in separate containers.

3. Dismantle and store exterior decorations.

Christmas/Christmas Eve Meal:

1. Pack away silver, crystal, and other serving items.

2. Store Christmas candles and other items that can be re-used next year.

Gifts:

1. Write thank you notes.

© 1998 – 2010 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Mar 142012
 

I was listening to one of my favorite radio talk programs today.  The  topic of the hour was “do you feel burdened by Christmas?”  Much to my amazement the host, and the majority of his guests, spent the better part of an hour whining and moaning about the burdensome nature of the holiday season.  “I hate being with my relatives.”  “Why do I have to spend all this money on presents for people I don’t like?” “There’s too much pressure!” “The traffic in the stores is ridiculous.” It went on and on and on!

            Its a well known fact that people tend to be more depressed during the holiday season.  It can be distressing if you live far away from your family.  Some people actually become depressed because of the decrease in their exposure to sunlight during the winter months.  However, what I heard today was different.  People were just whining! They sounded like young children who were being forced to do their chores.  Then, it hit me.  Those people were suffering from PHLOP!

What is PHLOP (pronounced “flop”)? Pre-Holiday Lack of Planning!  It is my own term for describing what causes successful people turn into grinches during the holiday season.  Anyone who suffers from PHLOP will experience a range of symptoms that include: anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, overeating (particularly of chocolate), anger, and irrationality.  All of these symptoms cause them to miss out on the true joy that should be experienced during the holiday season.

            People who suffer from PHLOP get their first dose of anxiety when they begin to consider the enormous list of things to do between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.  There are cards to be sent, gifts to be bought and wrapped, parties to be planned, activities to be enjoyed, and thank you notes to be written.  It’s enough to give a person indigestion! Then, add all of the subtasks (e.g., everything that is involved in planning a party) to the list.  By then, that person has a major case of  indigestion and the beginning symptoms of a migraine.  Of course, the only reason that the person experiences anxiety is because he or she is not organized.

            Do you suffer from PHLOP?  It’s not too late to change things – even for this holiday season! Consider the consequences of not planning out how you will get everything done before January 31.  Your tasks will get done at the last minute. They will not be done well. Worst of all, you may not finish them at all! Let’s face it, there is nothing worse than looking at a stack of holidays cards that were signed, sealed, and addressed, but just didn’t make it to the post office.  If you would like some help organizing your holiday schedule for this and future Christmas seasons, you should get a copy  UnCommon Courtesy & Coaching’s PHLOP busting holiday organizer by visiting our Christmas Corner at:  http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/holidayplanner.htm .

Let me also take a moment to suggest some things that will help you to enjoy this holiday season.  First, consider making some of your gifts.  People generally think about making gifts only when they are very young, super organized, or short on cash. You need not begin crocheting purses for your friends in August in order to make presents.  Think about baking a few batches of bar cookies and then dividing them up onto colorful Christmas plates. Wrap them in cellophane and tie them with colorful ribbon. It’s easy, cheap, and all your friends will love it.  After all, have you ever had anyone tell you that they did not like a plate full of cookies?  How about buying a number of inexpensive items and putting them in a basket.  The presentation will impress the heck out of the recipient.  Whatever you decide to make, constructing the gift yourself will make it more meaningful to both you and the person who receives it. 

            Another suggestion to make your holiday bright and joyous is to act like a kid.  Often people will suggest that you view the holidays “through the eyes of a child.”  To that I say: “you are missing half of the fun.”  Yes, it is a good idea to view things as if you were a child, but remember that actions are just as important as thoughts. For example, consider all those holiday television shows and videos you loved to watch as a child.  Somehow, you have not found the time to watch them for years. Well, this is the year to start that tradition once again. If you can, watch them with a child. However, it doesn’t matter if a child is watching the program with you.  The important thing is to remember to be child-like. How will you ensure that you take on a juvenile persona for the evening? Stock up on all those fun things that a child likes to have available while watching a video.  For example, you should dress in your most comfortable pajamas, grab a cup of cocoa, and fill up a bowl with popcorn.  Then, settle into your most comfortable chair with all the goodies and enjoy watching Snoopy decorate his dog house.  Now, apply that same principle to all of your holiday related activities.  It’s all those little extras that will really add joy to the Christmas season.

            I realize that there may be some readers who feel that they should have begun their holiday planning and organization months ago.  To those people I say: “now is the time to be industrious!”  For example, shopping that has been delayed to the last minute can be remedied in several ways.  Try going to the mall at the very beginning or end of the shopping day. Consider purchasing an unusual gift that can be found somewhere other than a mall.  For goodness sake, do your shopping online! No matter how chaotic and stressful it seems, this holiday season should serve as a life lesson. Make notes for yourself about what went well, what could have been done better, and what was an absolute disaster.  Then, form an action plan for next year. It’s never too soon to get organized!

            The bottom line is: this is the season to be jolly, make merry, and recall the joy that can fill your life. The holiday season is the time to be child-like.  It is a time to overlook life’s little irritations and be grateful for all the wonderful aspects of what has been given to you. I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, and a joyous time no matter what holiday you will be celebrating in the upcoming weeks!

© 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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© 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! A multitude of holiday, religious, educational, and patriotic  bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine.  Read Susan C Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog about Patriotism, First Principles, and American History. Follow Dr. Rempel on Twitter: SusanRempel

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