Stress-free Holiday Planning Tips + Shipping Deadlines

When it comes to the holidays I like to sorta go with the flow that comes with the holiday fuzz, and we really try to enjoy it in the moment as much as possible. I can attest that we don't always have it all together, or plan every single detail, but I do try to plan ahead just a little bit.

Planning for the holidays isn't all that crucial for me because we don't usually host in our home in December, but wouldn't be nice to be prepared if and when you are. 

The one thing I like to at least knock off my list is our holiday cards. We were only doing them every other year but recently we've been pretty good about doing them annually. And I admit this year we did take our family photos much later than usual, but they're done and now we just have to mail them out.

With that said though I may be a little late in sharing this, but today I wanted to share a few tips and suggestions I think might help with getting things done this holiday season in a more organized and somewhat planned without the stress way!

So keep on reading for some easy peasy ways to get things together in the next couple of weeks if you still have things to cross off the list.

Holiday Cards 

Set a Mail Deadline - Set a date for yourself to drop off at the post office, then backtrack from there to determine when you will address and stamp.

Order Photo Cards - Many online sites offer discounts for early ordering. Give yourself at least a week to get these back before your mailing deadline. But if you're a little behind like me this year, there's still time to save!

Gather Mail Supplies - Put stamps and mailing labels on your shopping list and consider ordering stamps online (back up another week from your mailing deadline to be sure these get delivered on time). I ordered mine last week and got them this week.

Go Digital-Only - Don't be afraid to push the easy button if your circumstances have changed and cards and postage need to be taken out of the budget (they can get expensive). This year send out an e-card or send one every other year. We've done this too and it works just fine.

Food Planning 

Make a Meal Plan, Check it Twice - Fold a paper into thirds, with one column each for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Then make horizontal lines for how many days you will have guests. Fill these in with meal plan ideas.

Freeze It - In early December, make a list of what you can make ahead and freeze (your best bets are side dishes, desserts and breakfast casseroles). 

Plan a Cooking Day - Invite other friends who are hosting guests for a fun holiday food prep party.

Go Simple – Pick up convenience foods like pre-made muffins, frozen pizzas and pantry-friendly supplies for a taco night. Plan on shopping the week before if you have guests staying with you. 

Buy Perishables - Buy these four or more days ahead of time to make sure the store isn't out — and save yourself some holiday panic.

Gift Food - If you like to bake, it's always a nice idea and treat for a neighbor, co-worker or service person and the most cherished kind of gift. Set aside a Saturday for baking if this is something you enjoy.

Hosting and/or Traveling 
Set the Guest List - Confirm with guests the length of stay and start thinking about the meals, beds (do you need to borrow some inflatable ones?), bath towels and linens you will need a week or two before their arrival.

Stock Your Guest Bath - Include all the comforts of home so your guests can look under the sink or in a basket in their room for extra toiletries, clean hand towels and disposable bathroom cups.

Purchase Snacks (Lots of Them) - Place a bag of trail mix and water bottle in their room so guests don't have to troll around in your pantry if they need a late-night snack.

Holiday Shopping 
Budget - Plan a realistic budget. Start by listing who you’d like to give gifts to and an amount limit for each person. Don’t forget the cost of cards, postage, teacher gifts, baked goods and other holiday food needs.

Prioritize Gifts - Maybe this is the year to ask for experiences (show tickets, swim lessons, etc.) instead of gifts if toys and other items are taking over your house. Donate old items and determine what’s new that would truly be appreciated.

Ask Early - Start asking about gift requests early, especially any ones that will need to be ordered and shipped (and then shipped again to out-of-town family).

Shop Early - Shop an hour before store closings or after work on the weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds.

Stay Organized - Keep a notebook or folder with coupons and a list of what you need from specific stores to simplify shopping trips.

Buying Late - If you are a gift-procrastinator, embrace your love of getting that last boxed set of perfume and lotion off the drug store shelf. Warn those you love of this habit.

Wrap it Up - Buy wrapping paper early unless you like obscure cartoon characters or patterns that only the paper-designer’s mother would love. The same goes for bows.

Get Hostess Gifts - Buy these in early December to stash away as events approach. A kitchen towel given with a bottle of sparkling cider or a holiday plant (but take note of allergies!) can be a thoughtful gesture.

Draw Names - Got so many nieces and nephews your head is spinning? Gently nudge the elephant out of the room by suggesting a gift exchange and price limit.

Fill the Stocking - This is a great place to give a book, gift card or small tokens for fun. This can be done last minute or over time.

Hope these tips came in handy and that they help keep you somewhat organized and make things easier in the next few weeks.

Below is a list of shipping deadlines if you're planning on shopping and shipping last minute gifts, now is the time to keep this list handy.

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It always makes me happy that you're here and hope that these ideas inspire you. 

Thank you for stopping by. Stay tuned for more coming soon.

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Thank you so much in advance friends!

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