The Holiday Season is supposed to be a time for celebration and fun.   I want to relax and have fun during the holidays.   But some years, when I hear the countdown to the holidays, my shoulders inch up to my ears and I say to myself, “I’m not ready!”   Yet, each year, I enjoy the holidays once I am prepared.  Blue Snowflake

This year, I plan to prepare for the holidays without the stress. The key is to treat holiday preparation like a project and to be a project manager.   Here are four tips for preparing for the holidays, like a pro:

Create a “To Do” List – If it feels like there are a million things to do to get ready for the Holidays.   Make a list of actionable steps.    Breaking a project into smaller pieces makes it more attainable and far less overwhelming.   Plus, a list takes the stress out of trying to remember everything.   As part of your “To Do” list, mark down everyone you want to send presents and cards to. Figure out the gifts you plan to give each person.   Having a list, before you go shopping saves time and money, especially if there will be fewer returns and impulse buys.

Delegate – Don’t try to tackle the holiday project on your own.   Delegate wherever possible. Involve the whole family. Your kids may be able to learn how to wrap presents, address the cards, affix the stamps, etc.  Your partner may be able to write the holiday letter this year!

Outsource – Give yourself the gift of taking something off of your plate.   There are lots of options for holiday outsourcing.  Perhaps you can let someone deliver the holidays to you via on-line shopping. Charitable wrapping centres will make your gifts look gorgeous and make the world a better place too!   Finally, if the holiday meal seems like an insurmountable obstacle, contact Supperworks or one of the many services that can help you create a home cooked meal straight from someone else’s oven!

Prioritize – Have you ever accepted every invitation you received and then when the holiday season arrived you were worn out and not looking forward to the events you had planned?   If we schedule too many engagements they can sometimes feel like obligations when we get closer to the date. Especially once all of the other priorities are competing.  I try to keep this in mind when I am planning the holiday schedule.  If you have a big project on the go, keep commitments to a manageable level so you can enjoy yourself.

As 2014 comes to a close and we look to finishing the year on a strong note, I hope your holiday planning will go smoothly. I hope the holiday season finds you relaxed and ready to celebrate.   I hope you will prepare for the holidays like a pro.