When was the last time you had a really relaxing holiday?
I don’t mean that peaceful 30-minute aftermath that follows a successful dinner party or the kids’ gift-opening extravaganza. I mean a holiday that is relaxing, from beginning to end. That includes travel, dinner preparations, and shopping.
All it will take is a little organization and advance planning. Here are some tips to get you started:
1.) Plan your travel now. Need to be out of town to see family or friends? If you haven’t already made arrangements, make it a priority. Especially if you plan to fly, the best deals disappear fast. Get online and start shopping around as soon as you know where you need to be and when. Once the arrangements are made, start getting things squared away with work. Whether you need to request time off, reschedule a recurring meeting, or just let your employees know that you’ll be gone, do it as soon as possible.
2.) Make a budget. Unless you’ve got more money that you know what to do with, it is easy for the holiday season to turn into a financial headache. Ninety-nine percent of that stress can be eliminated by thinking ahead and making a budget. Financial sanity doesn’t come from having a ton of money; it comes from spending it wisely. Decide how much you’re going to spend and stick to it. Letting yourself creep over your budget probably isn’t going to make you a hero in the gift department, but it might cost you a gray hair or two when it comes time to sort out the holiday bills. How many times have you charged expensive items and spent five months paying for them? See if you can break tradition this year by drawing names or just sending cards. Tell the people you’re not buying for that you’ve pared down your gift list out of necessity and ask them not to buy for you as well.
3.) Avoid the shopping marathon. Unless you really do enjoy the “shop ‘till you drop” marathon mall sessions, skip the all-day shopping trips. If you start now (or better yet, six months ago), you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done by picking up an item here and there while you’re running your everyday errands. The secret is to sit down, make a list of the people you need to shop for, and keep it with you. Ideally, your list will include one or two gift options for each person, too. Keep your list with you and cross off a few people every week. Also keep your eye out for stocking stuffers and similar small items. And as for that whole Black Friday thing -- if you don’t enjoy it, skip it! Unless shopping is in your blood, the money you’ll save probably isn’t worth the aggravation.