It’s hard to believe we’re entering into the holiday season. Maybe you’ve already been thinking about it and preparing, but if not, let’s talk about some things we can do now to prepare for a joyous and safe holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate at the end of the year.
Preparing for the holidays now can save you valuable time
The holidays can be a stressful time of year for people, even in the best of times, but especially so this year with all that has been going on. The pandemic has changed what our family get-togethers may look like but we can still have a good holiday season while being safe and healthy.
We’ve talked about holiday prep in the past, in episodes TPW159 in 2017. In that episode, we went into details of things we can do to prepare, so it’s a good episode to review for ideas. In addition, here are a few steps to consider taking now to prepare for this year’s holidays.
Prepare your home
Do some purging and de-cluttering of your home. Really focus on getting rid of the things that take up space and don’t serve you anymore. If in your family it’s traditional to give lots of gifts, you want to make space for those things. If you have children, take this time to go through their clothes and toys, dispose of (or recycle) things that are broken, and donate those things that are in good condition. (See if there are some shelters in your community that would like some of these items.) Use this time before the holidays to make space and clear out clutter in your home. Clear space makes for a clear mind.
Get some deep cleaning done. Do some cleaning of your baseboards, floors, bathrooms, etc. In anticipation of all of the cooking and baking you’ll be doing for the holidays, take this time to do a good cleaning of your refrigerator and freezer. Throw out expired and old food, use up leftovers, deep clean the shelves and drawers, and defrost the freezer.
Do some decorating. Even if nobody’s coming to visit this year, decorate to lift your own spirits. I’ll be putting up Christmas decorations starting December 1, even though I’m unsure of what our holiday will look like this year in terms of family gatherings.
Prepare for gifting
Check your gift wrapping supplies inventory. We all have people in our lives we’d like to give gifts to. If we check our supplies now and stock up early, we don’t have to worry about running out in the middle of wrapping.
Think about your gift list. Make a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to and evaluate what you have bought so far. Make sure you’re keeping within a budget you can live with.
If you’re ordering anything online, order SOON. Because of the pandemic, there have already been inventory shortages and delayed shipping times. This could get worse as we get closer to the holidays.
Wrap as you go. As you get gifts for different people, get them all wrapped and tagged as you go so nothing is put off until the last minute. For some folks, marathon gift-wrapping sessions are fun, but they can also be stressful.
Consider a few extra gifts for unexpected/spur-of-the-moment gifts. Think about people who you may want to encourage or bless with an unexpected present. Maybe a delivery person or service provider, maybe your child’s teacher. Considering having a few extra things when a special person comes to mind so you’ll have something on hand.
If you do a holiday letter, start writing it now. If you are someone who gives your friends and family a yearly update on your life through a letter, consider getting started on it now. With all that has happened this year and the feelings of isolation and loneliness that many have experienced, a holiday letter is a good way to connect with others, whether this is through a hand-written letter or through email.
Prepare for gatherings
Plan your menu. This is a good time to think about your guest list, especially in light of COVID. Will you be having your usual guests or will there be fewer than usual?
Inventory your food supplies. Ideally, you won’t have to go to the store a week or even days before the holiday to begin buying your food supplies. The stores are always hectic at that time so it’s best to start figuring out what you need now. Buy non-perishables ahead of time, since these items will last. Do some of your baking ahead of time; lots of cookies freeze well, for example. Inventory your serving and cooking equipment and other supplies.
Schedule a virtual gathering. If you are not feeling safe, or if the area where you are living is discouraging in-person gatherings, consider a virtual gathering instead. Platforms like Zoom, Skype, and even Facetime are great options for getting your friends and family together virtually.
Prepare for travel (if you’re doing that now). This is a good time to make any reservations you might need before things book up. If you’re driving, get your car ready. Winterize it, for those of you in the northern hemisphere. Have your tires checked, get an oil change, and have a safety kit in your car in case of an emergency. We discussed this in more depth in episode TPW 204.
Feedback from The Productive Woman community
While preparing for this episode, I asked The Productive Woman Facebook community what they are doing to prepare for the holidays and how they are planning to celebrate. Here are some of the neat ideas I heard back.
- Brenna said: “I like to get my Christmas presents for my immediate household done quite early. Also, I like to restock my spice cabinet & baking ingredients now so I don’t have to worry about not having ingredients on hand when I feel like getting a jumpstart on holiday baking. I also purchase my stamps and craft paper at around this time to be prepared to send packages/cards by late November. In terms of how Coronavirus has changed things – definitely a lot more online shopping in my life.”
- Aoife said: “Because of Covid this is my first Christmas in 13 years that I or my husband don’t have to work, and the first in 6 years that we have a kitchen! I’m so excited! We are going to bake, cook, eat, and not look at the clock.”
- Brooke said: “We ask the grandparents to chip in for a larger gift for my 2 daughters. This year, it’s for bunk beds! Asking for something specific is helpful so that we don’t get soooo many presents at once (3 sets of grandparents makes for too many presents). Asking for something large that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford and being able to share that cost with others has been incredibly helpful. As for Covid changes, I’ve done more online research instead of in-person research/shopping. Many more gifts are homemade this year, and we’re having smaller family gatherings for the holidays.”
- Tracey said: “We make specific gift lists and start early. When I see something on sale, I buy it. The challenge is remembering everything I have purchased. For food, I buy what I can freeze over November so I don’t have to worry about a long list when the stores are busy. I also do my baking as I have time on weekends/days off before the holidays. This makes for easy hostess gifts as well (or quick porch drop-offs for this year with Covid).”
- Betsy said: “Our neighborhood lines the streets with luminaries! On our block we all meet on Christmas Eve at Noon to fill them and set them out and have treats and s’mores. We light them at dusk – it is lovely! My husband gets up early on Christmas morning and picks them all up before anyone wakes up. I’m thinking this year we will wear masks and maybe not have treats and spread out the assembly and still make it work. We are outside so that will help!”
- Alicia said: “Things will be done differently this year. We already purchased my son’s much-desired Nintendo Switch. I’d normally take the risk to wait for a good sale but they have been sold out due to a shortage because of Covid. I am making sure to order and ship gifts early because I anticipate more shipping demands this year. We have always participated in a lot of free community holiday events. It takes more planning, effort, money, and time to compensate for lost traditions. With Easter, we had to create our own egg hunt instead of joining church-based ones in the community. I expect we will be doing similarly for the upcoming holidays.”
- Lucia said: “St Lucia has such a big tradition where I live (northern Italy). It is probably more felt than Christmas. The night before kids prepare hay for the donkey and milk for Saint Lucia and go to bed filled with excitement. At night a bell rings and you know the Saint is here! And the next morning kids wake up to unpack the gifts before school, then they go to school and – big surprise – the Saint went to school too and left tangerines, candies, and pencils on each desk. This year the Saint will be quarantined prior to entering Italy, so she will not make it to school. I will make sure to add some special treats in my son’s backpack so that he’ll be surprised. “
Here is a link to a website sharing some info about the celebration of Saint Lucia in Italy.
Finally, Sarah, who is also a member of The Productive Woman community, shared this graphic with great advice on her Facebook profile.
What do you think?
What are your holiday traditions? How are you celebrating this year and how is it different from previous years? Please share them in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
Resources and Links
- COVID-19: Holiday Celebrations | CDC
- 23 Tips for Preparing for the Holidays (Bye Stress!) – Fabulessly Frugal
- 8 Things to Do Now to Prepare for the Holidays – Sparkles of Sunshine
- Holiday Prep: 8 Things to Do EARLY to Prepare for the Holiday Season
- TPW-204 Preparing for the Next Season
- TPW-159 10 Things to Do Now to Prepare for the Holidays
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Royse City, Texas