1. The first step to organizing your holidays is to compose a mission statement or an inspiration statement that summarizes your vision of the holidays. This will help you stay focused on what is most important to you throughout the holiday season. You may want to post it in an obvious place in your home as a frequent reminder. Throughout the holidays, do only those things that fit your statement and your vision.
2. Decor - Decide now how long you want to spend on decorating your home inside and out. Don’t let the amount of decorations you own dictate how long it takes you. Take control of your time. Determine how much time you realistically have and how much time you want to spend. If you enjoy decorating, then you may want to spend more time. Do you want to spend two hours or 10? Do you want to spread the process out over a period of days? Whatever you decide, put this on the calendar now and stick with it. Don’t fret over the decorations that don’t get displayed and consider donating them.
3. Budget - Look at your finances now and decide how much you want to spend on gifts, entertaining, decorations, party clothes, etc. Using the same concept as above, take control of your money. Don’t let guilt and expectations determine how much you spend. Over-spending will create stress well beyond the holidays. Consider gifts that don’t cause clutter for recipients such as savings bonds, gift certificates for a pedicure/manicure, movie theater gift cards or homemade treats.
4. Shopping - Limit your shopping expeditions to THREE! Put these dates on the calendar. This will help you avoid the crowds and the frantic, last minute shopping. Knowing that you have limited shopping time may keep you from endlessly looking for that “perfect” gift. Having a deadline is a good way to get anything done so have your shopping completed by December 15th.
5. Plan your menu - Cook ahead and freeze what you can. Cookie dough, cheese balls, appetizers and egg casseroles, just to name a few, can be prepared and frozen. I was surprised how many websites I found dedicated to “Holiday Freezer Meals”. Even if you enjoy cooking, having part of it complete can really ease stress. Each week prepare one dish to be frozen. Add the ingredients to your weekly grocery shopping list and schedule a portion of time in the kitchen to prepare it. Instead of being in the kitchen all day cooking, you’ll be enjoying time with friends and family!
Throughout the month of February, I concentrated on organizing the kitchen. Knowing where everything is and knowing what you have will make meal planning a simpler process. Getting into the habit of planning your meals weekly or monthly will save you time and energy. You will find yourself not having to think about or stressing over "What's for dinner?"
Planning your meals will save you time and money. Your family will enjoy healthier meals with less stress. You will find yourself spending less time and money at the grocery store.
Things to consider as you plan your menu:
1) Look at the calendar and determine what the schedule will be for each evening. If you won't be available to cook, a crock pot meal may be a good option for that night.
2) Look in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. See what ingredients you have that need to used. Challenge yourself to make a meal with you've got on hand. You may come up with a new recipe that your family loves!
3) Planned leftovers- Plan to use leftover roast chicken in soup. Use leftover chili as a pasta topper.
4) Cook in bulk- Cook a large package of ground beef and freeze for tacos, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, etc. This saves cleaning up those greasy skillets each time you prepare hamburger. You can do the same things with chicken- cook, shred and it's ready for casseroles. Instead of just cooking one casserole, buy double ingredients and put together another one for the freezer.
5) Have "theme nights" such as Taco Tuesday, Pasta on Thursday, Friday night Pizza night.
There are many options for recording your menu plan. If you prefer to keep your menu plan digitally, you can choose one of the many menu planning computer programs available. You may want to be sure it syncs with your smart phone so that you can access it as you are shopping for groceries. If you prefer paper, you can search "menu planner" and find numerous menu plan templates that you can copy. Another great option is to put your planned meals on the calendar whether it's paper or digital. Whatever method you choose,
I would love to hear from you. Do you plan your meals? If so, what tips do you have to share with the rest of us?