Friday, September 29, 2017

Your Fall Checklist for Less Stressful Holidays

It’s officially fall, which means shorter days and cooler temperatures. Yay! October 1st begins the last quarter of the year, can you believe it? We’re just over a month away from Halloween and then it’s full swing into the holidays.

As I’ve been looking at my calendar and thinking over my own holiday plans, I thought I’d share with you a checklist of things to help you prepare for all of the fun of fall and the holidays. A little preparation and planning can help your family to really enjoy these last months of the year.

Talk It Out Together: The most important item is discussing the items below with your family. Talk about what’s really important to each member of the family. Sometimes we think we know what’s important to someone, but tastes and opinions change, so it’s important to seek input regularly.

Figure Out Halloween Costumes: Give your kids a deadline to decide what they’d like to dress up as, the earlier the better! If you decide during the first week or two of October, you’ll be able to shop and price compare their costumes. If you have to order online, you’ll have enough time to pay for standard shipping instead of expedited. If you’ll be making costumes, starting early will give you a chance to find supplies and have ample time to complete the project. Nothing takes the joy out of something like feeling frustrated under a time crunch.

Plan Your Fall Activities: There are so many family-friendly events that go on during the fall: football games, apple-picking, pumpkin patches, fall festivals, Halloween parties and trick-or-treating, to name a few. What would your family most like to attend? Look at your calendar and decide on the events that work best with your family’s taste, schedule and budget in mind. If events require tickets, get them early; sometimes the price is less and you have less risk of it selling out.

Start Packing Operation Christmas Child Boxes: This is such an awesome holiday service project to do with your family! For less than a family dinner out, you can give a gift-filled shoe box (or two) to an impoverished child. You can even track the country your box is delivered to when you print an online label. Visit Operation Christmas Child for more details. Collection week begins November 13th.

Figure Out Where You’ll Spend Thanksgiving: Again, the earlier the better on this, especially if you’re buying airline tickets or booking a hotel, as the prices increase the closer it is to Thanksgiving.

Start Your Christmas Gift List and Shop: As of today, we’re 87 days away from Christmas! It’s going to sneak up quickly. If you start your gift list, you can find items on sale and purchase them ahead of time, which will give you more free time come December. If you plan to make or buy customized gifts online, you can beat the holiday rush. If you haven’t yet budgeted for Christmas gifts, start doing so now so that you can pay cash for gifts instead of charging them. (Don’t forget your kids’ friends and teachers on your gift list.) Decide as a family who you can buy gifts for and for whom you’ll make homemade treats.

Take Your Christmas Photo: Fall is a great time for outdoor photo sessions. Research photographers and get a session booked. You’ll have ample time for ordering prints or Christmas cards.

Figure Out Where You’ll Spend Christmas: At least start the discussion, so that you can get the best deals by booking travel early.

Plan Your December Activities: The month of December can get filled up really fast, so make sure to update your family calendar regularly. If you do an Advent calendar with your kids, start planning activities or buying treats when they’re on sale. Again, talk about the activities that are important to your family: putting up the Christmas tree and lights, Christmas parties, baking, skiing, snowboarding, concerts, the Nutcracker Ballet or theater, etc., and find a healthy balance of doing what you love and leaving white space for spontaneity and relaxed family time.

I hope you found this little checklist helpful! Planning ahead of time can truly help us enjoy, not just survive, the busy holiday season to come. Having extra margin can help us stay focused on what matters most: faith, family and friends.

Have a great weekend!

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