It’s about that time of year when people are batched into two groups -- the ones who absolutely love everything about the holidays, embrace the season and get through it with flying colors because Christmas somehow allows them to thrive. Then there are the rest of us -- the people who are always just a bit stressed out, are worried about how to get it all done, and always forget about that one present they need to buy until December 23rd.
Team Ridiculously Efficient is here to help. Here are our personal tips to get you through the holiday season as efficiently as possible, so you can relax and actually enjoy the extra time with loved ones.
Consider crowdsourcing platforms like TaskRabbit for on-demand help in all the tasks you don’t enjoy or have time to do yourself. Is there a killer in-store sale going on, but you can’t get away from your desk? Create a TaskRabbit or GigWalk task. Do you stink at wrapping presents? Outsource it. Not only are you helping achieve your objectives -- you’re also brightening someone else’s holiday season by sharing the wealth. (Bonus: If you really like wrapping presents, like Rosemina does, use TaskRabbit, Fancy Hands or GigWalk for the other tasks, so that you have more time for gift-wrapping.)
Don’t Wait to Wrap Presents
I love wrapping presents, but I hate having to do them all at once -- it somehow takes much longer and ends up making a huge mess. Instead, allocate an evening a week leading up to Christmas to wrap presents. Wrap a couple here and there while watching TV in the evening, or on the weekends while listening to Christmas music and sipping hot chocolate. This will also give you more than enough time to buy more wrapping supplies if you run out.
Suck at Wrapping Gifts?
Wrapping presents can be a hard skill to master so if your gifts end up looking like a 4-year-old Stevie Wonder wrapped them, perhaps you should stick to dropping your purchases into a holiday gift bag. Dress up the gift easily by crinkling up some tissue paper and sticking on a bow.
Pre-Plan Holiday Menus
The further in advance you do this, the better off you’ll be. Know exactly what you plan to serve, from the appetizers to the desserts. Make your shopping lists ahead of time and buy as many supplies as you can before the holiday rush hits or through online grocery stores. Then, plan your day of cooking. When do you need to make the stuffing? Does the dessert need to be set in the fridge? Can anything be prepared the day before? Figure out all the logistics for a seamless and stress-free day. And, when something does go wrong (because something always does), you’ll be prepared to tackle it.
Or, Hire a Chef
I love to cook, but I also acknowledge that for some, holiday dinner parties are a disaster in the making. Hire a local personal chef -- or even a talented culinary school student -- to bear the burden of food shopping, prepping, and cooking and delivering a multi-course meal. It’s a party host’s dream: you and your guests will enjoy delicious, safely prepared food, and you’ll have more time and energy to spend mingling with loved ones and enjoying the party atmosphere. (Budget-Friendly Tip: Approach a local culinary school, meet with the headmaster, and have him or her recommend a talented student who wants to become a private chef.)
Batch Experience-Based Presents
Give your loved ones an experience this year, rather than a gift. Host a strategically timed potluck with all your favorite people in one room. Hire a local chef, wine professional, spirits expert or cheesemonger to come to your house and do an interactive tasting with your friends. Not only will you all gain some new capabilities, you’ll also create lasting memories.
Organization Goes a Long Way
As much as I love Christmas, the season can get overwhelming and stressful for a lot of people. Between the parties and all the gifts you have to buy, the weeks leading up to the holidays can get hectic. To keep it all together, stay organized. Make sure all your holiday events are in your calendar. Keep a list of all the presents you need to buy, with ideas for each. Keep some form of a budget to keep you on track.
Set Yourself Up for Next Year
After the holidays, take the extra time while putting your holiday decorations away. Everyone knows how much it sucks to pull out your holiday storage and have everything a tangled up mess! Use a plastic hanger to wrap up your holiday lights and save yourself the headache of being on Santa’s “knotty” list. Use this year’s wrapping paper trash to wrap fragile tree ornaments and decorations. Store all your Xmas garb in plastic containers to keep them safe from the elements, as well as mice and bugs.
Keep it Simple & Remember What the Holidays are About!
Despite all of the food, presents and parties, the holidays really come down to one thing: spending time with the ones you love. Afterall, all of the cooking, shopping for presents, and planning the perfect holiday party is really to make them happy. So keep it simple! If you have a tradition of cooking with your family, enjoy every last second of that preparation. If cooking isn’t your forte, cater the party. The food will still be delicious and you won’t have to take on the additional stress. If you love to shop, take some of your closest friends with you and make it an event. If you don’t like to shop, try planning a fun experience that you and your loved ones will enjoy together. At the end of the day, it’s all about being together. So make the most of it and remember what the holiday season is truly about!
2. Wrap your gifts early, and don't do them all at once.
3, If you hate wrapping, use gift bags.
4. Pre-plan menus and shop early.
5. Or, hire a chef to do the holiday cooking.
6. Organize a fun experience for all your friends and family instead of buying traditional gifts.
7. Get organized with lists and budgets.
8. Set yourself up for next year by being organized this year.
9. Don't forget what the holiday season is all about!