Ways that I plan for the holiday:
1) Start Christmas shopping early! There a lot of random sales in addition to holiday sales throughout the end of the summer until Christmas. If you see something that makes you think of someone on your usual gift list, go ahead and purchase it! I have a gift bin that holds these future gifts and I keep a list of everyone I want to purchase for, write down what I purchased and the amount, and refer back to it frequently. Once they're purchased for, I don't overthink anything that I come across in the future. It's done and checked off the list.
2) On that same list of gift recipient names, write down gift ideas that you think of so that closer til Christmas all you have to do is purchase the gift you already thought of!
(I used #1 and #2 for buying birthday gifts as well. I believe gifts should be thoughtful, not just randomly picked up out of obligation.)
3) Start looking at travel plans, flight prices, hotel needs, and various holiday bucket list items beginning early in the fall. You can keep an eye out for sales and book travel when the price is right instead of waiting until the last minute.
4) And since travel needs and holiday parties are evident, it's good to look up the dates of the fall & Christmas themed events that you want to partake in early so you block them off on your calendar. IE: hayrides, pumpkin patches, apple picking, sleigh rides, carriage rides, looking at Christmas lights, which movies you want to watch to have movie nights at home, etc. etc. It's a busy time of year so make sure you plan ahead so you don't miss out on the things that make the holidays fun & relaxing to you!
5) Start thinking about Thanksgiving dishes early in November (or even before!). If you know you're going to host then you can start configuring recipes and timing for the dishes. I like to plan dishes based on how long it takes for them to be prepared and cooked/baked so that they're overlapping in the least stressful way possible. I also consider the ingredients list because when preparing a big meal like that - the less ingredients the better. Factor in a few dishes that you can prep the night before and voila! Once I have the dishes and timing sorted, I make my shopping list by writing down all of the ingredients. Then, I reorganize the list based on the layout of my store and the order in which I'll pass by them. This will save you time in the end.
You know what else saves time for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holiday meals?
1. Asking guests to bring dishes or specific sides, desserts, beverages, rolls, etc.
2. Using Instacart! This is my go-to especially when I have a large grocery list. It saves me time and effort. Well worth the fee + tipping. Some items add up to give free delivery too. Check it out here: https://inst.cr/t/SSyFjiQs4 and use referral code: rbrittain22
3. Using curbside grocery services at your local store. Many store are offering this now. There's still a fee involved and you still have to physically go to the store to pick up the groceries, but the shopping is done for you.
6) Plan for downtime. This is survival of the introverts rule #1. I make sure that I have ample down time in between heavily social days to recuperate my mind and body. Otherwise, I get frazzled and I don't want to hit burnout early in the holiday season! I want to want to be at every event and to host events. It fills my heart with joy. But, if you're not careful to relax as well then the events will not be as rewarding.
7) Wrap gifts early and often, but don't forget to label them if you do. This will save you time for other holiday related things closer til.
How do you plan for the holidays? Which ones coming up are your favorite to decorate and celebrate or are your main focus? Comment below!