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Ready, set, party!


By John Folding //

Admit it, every year you swear you’re going to get a head start on planning for the holidays. “As soon as school starts, I’ll start shopping for Christmas,” you claim. “I’ll order those invitations for the cookie exchange early this year!” you exclaim.

Alrighty then! How’s that usually work out for you?

Before you know it, the homework starts, and the ballet classes, and football practice, and being room mom, and then all of the sudden it’s the week before Thanksgiving and you haven’t purchased the first gift or begun planning the annual party, and your friends and family expect you to host.

This is why the holidays turn into a stressful mess for so many. In addition to the sometimes bittersweet emotions that swirl around this time of the year, we seem to sabotage ourselves with added pressure to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for everyone, sometimes forgetting to take care of ourselves.

Here’s some advice to make things easier this year (even if you don’t get started until the last minute!)

Rule No. 1You can’t take care of everybody else unless you take care of yourself first. By that I mean making sure you get enough rest, stay hydrated, and above all, ask for help!

Rule No. 2Get a great month-at-a-glance calendar — and use it! Seeing everything that happens in the month will help you visualize where you are in your planning process. Don’t use this tool to get too detailed, just log the milestones so you can stay focused. Things you might want to write in include parties you’ve been invited to, deadlines for purchasing and mailing holiday cards, days to spend shopping for gifts and groceries. Use your regular daily calendar (written or digital) for to-do lists and other details.

Rule No. 3Lists, lists, lists. If you are tech savvy, you can use your digital devices to keep track of gift lists, recipes, grocery lists, or planning shopping trips. If you aren’t all that great with a computer, keep a small (4×6 or 5×7) spiral-bound notebook in your purse or carry-all. These notebooks are the perfect size to jot ideas down in one place — as opposed to the back of an envelope or old receipt you find crumpled in your wallet. Plus, they are the perfect size to hold a pen in the binding.

Rule No. 4Lists, lists, lists. Worth repeating. The biggest time waster is aimlessly wandering from store to store hoping that the perfect thing will jump out at you. It just doesn’t work that way. Besides wasting time, you waste money because you last-minute desperation shop, often overspending or purchasing something that the receiver can’t use or doesn’t like.

Finally, the best advice to be had during any stressful event is to remember that your expectations are going to be far and away higher than your guests’, so relax. Most of life’s events are meant to be enjoyed, not obsessed over.

So, get your notebooks and your calendars, and… ready… set… PARTY!