It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and the most stressful! If Christmas is becoming too much to handle, there are a few things you can do to ease your worries.
But it’s not just time that’s of the essence here. You’ve got… oooh, far too many people to buy for. Instead of sending out “can we just do cards this year?” texts, there has to be ways of saving some hard-earned cash too…
Here are some Christmas-related time saving organization tips to help you out.
1. Create Checklists: For The Whole Season And For The Day
Ho ho ho! It's already December — is your Christmas wish list ready yet? #HappyHolidays
— Wishlistr (@wishlistr) December 1, 2014
You may wake up in the middle of the night and realise you’ve not bought the Christmas crackers. A simple checklist of tasks big and small will lessen your worries. Set aside ten minutes now and note down anything you can think of: getting a tree, checking the lights, writing cards. You can always add to this list whenever something else pops into your head.
Try a simple site like Checkli, which lets you write down a series of tasks and tick each off. You can either save the list or print it off.
And if you’re in charge of the cooking this year, why not create a separate list for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Those days have a heavy workload as is. Write down what goes in the oven and when. Save panic by noting how much of something is needed, and exactly when to begin preparing the turkey. Don’t forget the Brussel sprouts!
2. Keep An Eye On Posting Dates
This is especially relevant if you’ve got relatives or friends abroad. Check out when the last date is for sending things by airmail or even, if possible, surface mail. The Royal Mail has PDFs of delivery dates, and USPS has a neat little graphic which sums it all up well. But it’s also worth enquiring with other delivery firms like Parcel Force, DHL and UPS: they can be cheaper and deliver closer to Christmas than traditional services.
It might be worth setting up a reminder on your phone. Or if you don’t see eye-to-eye with the iOS Reminders, here are more apps that keep track of events well.
You could add these to your Reminders too or write a good old fashioned list! Who doesn’t love getting back to basics by putting pen to paper?
3. Go On A Stamp Run!
While we’re on the subject of cards, count off how many people you need to send cards to and head straight for the shops. Stamps are expensive but hey, completely necessary.
Of course, if you’re really organised, you could do a stamp run in January. Get them in at the start of 2015 ready for next year’s festivities and you’ll avoid possible price increases.
4. Use Online Card Sites
The high street has a mass of quality cards, but that wonderful thing we call The Web provides something a little different. Thriving selections of designs are there at your fingertips. Online cards can be personalised; almost all can be posted out to your friends and family directly. Maybe you are drawn to one site in particular — a few favourites include FunkyPigeon, Moonpig, and Postable – but search around. Etsy shops, for instance, showcase some fantastic undiscovered artists.
Or you can just make your own Christmas cards with the abundance of online tools.
5. Utilise Printable List Templates
Remember the horror of receiving a Christmas card from someone you’ve forgotten to send one to?
The templates available on Google Docs and Microsoft Office are perfect for keeping track of who you’ve sent to. Both keep track of addresses and Google’s includes years too, so you can roll the list every year.
If you prefer to rely on your iPhone or iPad, myCardLists Card/Mailing List Management and Label Printing is a bit of a mouthful, but is helpful for making your list and sorting out labels. Speaking of which…
6. Print Your Own Labels
Writing endless addresses is one of the most tedious things known to mankind. But if you’re prepared this year, subsequent Christmases will be a breeze. Go onto Microsoft Office Word, then Mailings, under which you’ll find Labels. Go through your address book (which might remind you of a few people anyway) and transfer them all. It will take some time, but you’ll thank yourself next year. And the year after.
It’s particularly helpful if you’re sending to other businesses you’ve invoiced: if these are on your computer, it’s easy to copy the addresses into Labels.
7. Organise Wish Lists
Amazon’s Wish List service is handy around Christmas and birthdays, but it’s not the sole service to offer a virtual Christmas List. Wishlistr, for instance, is a neat site for creating and sharing your needs and wants. It’s slowly gaining ground, and currently details nearly 5 million wishes.
If your family and friends are using normal services though, you can conglomerate them on sites like Pinterest. Pinterest secret boards were a welcome addition back in 2012 and they’ll remain useful for many years to come. Last year, we also showed you a way of collaborating with Pinterest or Google Shortlists on what you’re buying so no one doubles up.
Once you’ve decided what you’re getting for everyone, just check out Google Shopping which helps you compare prices. Don’t forget the high street stores. Some offer a click-and-collect service so you can check the condition of your presents (an issue that frequently crops up when using online shops).
8. Set A Day Aside For Packing
Never underestimate the time it takes to pack pressies. Books. I like books. They’re great gifts and they’re easy to pack. I always rely on the tried and tested “sellotape everywhere” method for garden ornaments.
Now, it depends on how mad you go at Christmas, but set aside a whole day to pack. Maybe that means a day for family and a day for friends; maybe that’s a day a week until the Christmas (it’s not long, y’know).
But don’t leave it until Christmas Eve!
BONUS TIP: Search for Promo Codes
Okay, so you’re in the middle of placing an order online. STOP! It’s just possible that some nice person is ready to save you money. Pop onto Google and type in “<retailer>+promo code”. You’ll see a lot of dross. But, somewhere out there, you might find a code or a shopping deal to save a bit of cash. Heck, even if it’s just 10%, it’s still worth it!
Time to Sit Down
Christmas worries us all, but it’s meant to be fun and relaxing and magical. Don’t let it all get to you. Stay calm and enjoy the festivities as they’re meant to be.
It can be the most wonderful time of the year.
Now tell us your favorite Christmas organization tips. Do you plan your Christmas or is it a mad scramble every year?