The holidays are upon us, whether we like it or not. Like you, it seems to surprise me every year despite the fact that I absolutely LIVE by my calendar. When the kids were little I was busier with the little things and had to micro manage their lives. Now that they are older I've had the luxury of getting ahead on some things better. Mind you, I'm SO not perfect on these things, but there are a few that I have a grasp on. Here's my list of things that are easily taken care of ahead of time- whether you're hosting a crowd or traveling, or both!
Things you can do well in advance of holidays:
- Do your Costco run early-buy all of your toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods, extra butter, etc. at this time. Also buy a few things to keep in your freezer for those "Oh crap, I forgot about dinner" nights: lasagne, pot pies, etc. If you have to go back for fresh meat or perishables it will only be a few items and the trip will go much faster than trying to get it all done during the last minute rush, when you also have a house full of people that you would rather spend time with instead of standing in an hour long line to check out.
- Shop online for gifts and have them sent to your destination. You can usually add "Attention: Your Name" somewhere on the mailing label so that the resident of your destination will know to put your things aside rather than opening them and spoiling the surprise. Do it early, save the emailed receipt in a special folder in your email so that you can make sure each one arrives before you do. Do this as soon as you finalize your gift list so you don't forget something or have to figure out how to travel with an odd-shaped gift or have to pay double shipping to get it to where you need to go.
- Do a deep cleaning of your house early. Lift the pictures and tchotchkes when you dust so when you are putting out your holiday decorations that you don't find surprises! This helps because you can do a quick swipe/vacuum just before company arrives rather than realize at the last minute that you can't remember the last time you scrubbed the toilet. I speak from experience here. Ahem.
- Shop NOW for special items for holiday parties or performances. I used to get so frazzled when a teacher would send home a letter about the kids needing a white shirt, or black pants, or whatever, for the holiday concert. I try to shop early for those items that I know that they (or I,) will need so that they can be washed, ironed, and set aside for the special day. This also eliminates the inevitable "OMG HOW CAN THEY BE OUT OF THIS!" moment when you have to run all over hell's half acre looking for a size/item that you have to have.
- Wash/iron your linens early. Do you take pride in setting a gorgeous table? It's so much easier to do it when you already have them laundered and ready. Take an evening to catch up on Grey's Anatomy and iron while you watch, then hang in a closet.
- Don't forget to take stock of what you have on hand before you make your shopping list. Do you always have mimosas on a holiday morning? Do you keep champagne and orange juice on hand always? Or do you need to grab some? What about the butter? Holidays always require extra so buy it now and toss it in your freezer. It won't go bad and you'll have extra when Aunt Carol forgets it for her super special secret recipe.You can freeze fresh cranberries too! Remember to look at the full list of food/meals to be served and grab what you can early.
- Order holiday cards NOW. It's easy to address envelopes, write a letter, and stamp them later. It seems that choosing the photos and designing the cards takes way longer than anything else, and if you're behind on that they may never get sent. If you have little ones they can help with the stamps, folding letters, and stuffing envelopes, too.