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Feeling Behind Before You Even Begin?
Six Strategies to Make The Holidays Sane

by | Dec 8, 2008 | Christmas, Christmas Decorating, Seasonal Decorating & Entertaining

Feeling Behind Before You Even Begin?<br> Six Strategies to Make The Holidays Sane

I have a confession to make. Shhh … Im not ready for Christmas. This is not really a new phenomenon for me, not being ready for a holiday (remember my house just before Thanksgiving last year?). I think it is my new trend.

I almost feel like I am living in an alternative universe, where Christmas must be five months away. I’ve been gone for nearly a week, trying to find a new home and set up our new life (we are getting closer to the final details! Yippee! More news to come soon!) while getting our house ready to go up for sale.

So, what does one do when you are way behind before you even begin?


1) Haven’t finished (or ah hem, started) decorating yet? Just say NO. Do you really need to empty all 25 holiday rubbermaid containers and use 132 strands of lights? Enough said.

2) Feeling like an epic failure because you haven’t baked yet this year? Devise a shortcut. You have my permission to use pre-made sugar cookies. It saves some time but still allows your kids the fun of decorating holiday cookies. And gives you the satisfaction of blogging about your kids decorating their Christmas cookies. Yes, I did that last year.

3) Short on money but pressured to bring a gift? Get creative about gift giving. If you can, give your time in the new year instead! Offer to babysit for a young couple, plant someone’s garden, cook for someone’s dinner party, offer a care basket of homemade goodies for a Saturday morning breakfast, share a stack of gently read books with handmade bookmarks, give a day of running errands or organizing for an elderly or busy friend.

4) Need to get the house picked up in a hurry for a holiday gathering? Use my grab and stash method. Take paper bags, label the front with the name of the room you are cleaning and gather up all the miscellaneous clutter from that space. My only rule is no bills or important papers can go in the bag, but everything else is fair game. Put the bags in a closet and set an appointment with yourself in January to sort through it once the holidays are over. If you don’t feel like looking in the bag in January, toss it. You probably don’t need that stuff anyways.

5) Don’t even know where to begin? Twitter. No, just kidding, even though I am a co-host to a Twitter meet up tonight (I’ve never done this before so I will be fumbling!) and hope to see you all there at 9PM Eastern. Meanwhile, put the top three projects that need to get done down on paper. Tackle one at a time. It is a lot easier to focus once you break it down. Multi-tasking leads to anxiety and lack of progress.

6) Need to rev up your holiday spirit? Give yourself a break! Pour yourself a holiday drink, turn on the Christmas tunes, read the Christmas story and remember the reason for the season.

photo: Martha Stewart

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  1. Becky K.

    Thanks for keeping it real!

    I’ve got a cat puke story today…sigh…
    not so festive!

    Have a great day.
    I am so excited for all of your changes.

    Hopefully, you’ll give yourself the permission
    to roll with the changes and still enjoy the
    Christmas Season without guilt or pressure!


  2. Kristen

    Good reminders to slow down and simplify things a little. The holiday season is far less enjoyable when you are stressed out the whole time!

    Kristens inspiring blog post..My Toy Land Garland

  3. Jinx

    Wonderful tips! The season should definitely NOT be about stress, but about JOY. And whatever you need to do to keep that joy in your heart works for me!

    I’m ahead of the game for the first time in years, but just this morning agreed to NOT bake cookies in order to keep temptation out of the house!

    Jinxs inspiring blog post..I’ll Have a Blue Christmas…

  4. Krys

    LOVE your idea of the bags labeled with the name of each room! Never thought to do that and wound up with a spare room full’o’stuff that didn’t belong there and too much to actually deal with post-event and the spare room turned into a junk room!!!
    Your idea is awesome! I can take one bag an a time, after the holiday or party or dinner, and just take care of it quickly, and within a few days/evenings, those bags will be where they’re supposed to be and my house will be (relatively) organized!
    Love your blog!!!

  5. Vee

    Lord love us, I guess we’re all in the same boat. Only thing is that you have an excellent reason and I don’t!

    Oh no! I can’t put any bills in the bag? Too late…I’ve got a bag full of ’em at my feet right now! :D

    Vees inspiring blog post..Saturday Trains and Sunday Pains

  6. Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

    Our whole family is into the simplify theme. We’re all very busy people and recognize that the time spent together is the most important thing. Preparing dinner together and eating whilst telling the old stories one more time. I’m getting excited and I’m not ready either.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

    P.S. Thanks for all you do. I love Mr. Linky.

    Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wifes inspiring blog post..Monday Morning Staff Meeting

  7. Tidymom

    GREAT tips! especially since the only decorating I’ve done is new stuff I’ve bought or made – I’ve done NO baking, or even bought the stuff to bake with…………thankfully I have about 75% of my gift shopping done.


    Tidymoms inspiring blog post..{Glass} Ball Ornament Wreath

  8. dawn

    This is one of my favorite posts of yours, though I do love the lovely photos…I agree with you 100% Thank you for reminding me to rid myself of type a personality for a few weeks!

    dawns inspiring blog post..WIPs

  9. teresa

    I’m not ready either- but it is what it is- Thank heaven for the internet- or I wouldn’t have any of my Christmas shopping done- for real!
    Thanks for fabulous ideas- and Merry Christmas- where ever you are living :}

  10. lylah ledner

    Fantastic tips. I especially like the one where you make a quick run through the house and stuff (all but bills) in a bag and then toss it in a closet. Now, girl, that’s sweet!

    Missed seeing you on twitter. Have been thinkin ’bout ya and your transition – praying for you – carrying you in my heart.


    lylah ledners inspiring blog post..3 money-saving quick tips

  11. heididevlin

    Good Morning Melissa, What a fabulous blog!!! I can totally relate! I have my annual Cookie party Friday night, but haven’t done a thing yet! Too busy sewing gifts!….Come Friday night though, I will have my “cranberry breads” all baked & wrapped…a nice simple dinner to serve & am looking forward to spending the evening enjoying my friends!…even though we may be sitting among Christmas decorations! :)….Your tips are great! …..Enjoy your day!….Heidi XO

    heididevlins inspiring blog post..It’s Time…."A Very Vintage Valentine Swap"!….Please sign up now!

  12. Liz

    Good tips! We’re short on money this year as my husband was made redundant 4 weeks ago. So this year I’m having a thrifty Christmas I’ve made my own wreath (near enough!) and I’m now going through our extensive DVD collection looking for DVD’s that have never even been unwrapped. Embarrassingly there are a good few, so I’m re-gifting them to relatives and friends as a token gift. It’s knocked a chunk off my gift budget which I can then buy the Christmas food with.

    Liz@VioletPosys inspiring blog post..Making your own Christmas Wreath

  13. PamperingBeki

    We’re definitely trying to keep things simple this year.

  14. heather jane

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this timely reminder. I am feeling so overwhelmed with all that I have committed myself to accomplish this year.

    I LOVE that paper bag idea. Love, love, love. I think I’ll start. right. now.

    heather janes inspiring blog post..Keep me in the craft room casserole series, Part 2

  15. Amy from Texas

    Can you read my mind or something? ha! I do the paper bag/box trick. I’m always running around like a mad woman with bags of stuff. Eeek!

    Yeah, I’m so not ready for the Holidays and that’s okay by me. I want to enjoy the season for the real reason, our lord’s birth and the time for giving and helping others. Great ideas!

    Amy from Texass inspiring blog post..Christmas Tradition

  16. LuLu

    It is so nice to know that there are times (many :o) ) that you can’t do it all! It is liberating actually to know that other people need this wonderful list to get through the holidays. The music is key for me, as the bag and stash (like that one….think it will head to the trash instead of sort !!!!) cookie- don’t get me started… I think I’m going for hot chocolate with snowmen floating (vanilla ice cream) in it for dessert this Christmas… super easy and the kids think I’m oh so cleaver!!!

    LuLus inspiring blog post..Nervous Energy

  17. Debbie

    This year I decided not to get all caught up in these activities. Instead, I want to get more in touch with the reason for the season; the birth of Jesus. But of course, I have my tree and decorations up. But I’m not going to every party, etc. Time for more quietness and reflection.

    Debbies inspiring blog post..Stress, Depression and the Holidays

  18. Christine

    Oh darlin’, you are always an uplift! seriously..keepin’ me grounded…
    Ahh..{that’s me takin’ a deep breath..}
    Thank you for the wonderful wisdom.. Big hug at ya!

    Christines inspiring blog post..What we’ve been up to…

  19. The Deco Detective

    Thank you Melissa! I think we should prioritize being with friends and family before Christmas. I’m having a gathering this Saturday, and before this I’m just going to 1) do a bit of cleaning 2) finish one Christmas decoration only to set the mood and 3) light a lot of candles.

  20. Kathy

    Nope, I haven’t begun. Haven’t unpacked a single box or done more than order a few gifts onthe internet. Unusual for me, the Christmas promoter at our house! I just can’t seem to care this year. And, that’s ok, it will get done, a little. And next year, hopefully, I will get my CHristmas mojo back.

    Kathys inspiring blog post..Aprons

  21. Emily

    Wow, I’ve never been so in love with little stockings! These are great!

  22. aubrey

    You’re awesome. Your grab & stash method? A perfected version of ours–we throw everything into a pile and stash it somewhere–bills and important papers included (so you’re very smart)! I made our car insurance lady laugh when I told her I couldn’t find our bill because we’d had a party and had to stash everything in our room and couldn’t find it. She must do it too.

    I want those little stockings, too. And that polka dot wallpaper–who would’ve thought? It’s so cute.

    aubreys inspiring blog post..Getting Ready For Christmas

  23. jenn

    oh boy did i need to read this today! we just got our tree last night. it most likely won’t be decorated until monday….maybe tuesday….and the only other decorations we have up are the stockings and that is only because i just bought them over the weekend. i’m totally in the spirit but just don’t have the time i need/want. thanks for the tips on giving myself a break and for using a shortcut or two ;O)

  24. Jennifer

    I wish I had red this earlier, I could have ben in on the Twittering fun! I really like the idea of the brown bags. I will be trying that! I am all ready for Christmas, I usually am by Dec 1st. However, I have not baked and I really do not want to. I am also at a loss for a hostess gift, probably because I really do not want to attend the party.

    Jennifers inspiring blog post..Killer New Shoes & Fabulous Sales


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