Ahh, the holidays.
There’s so much to do to prepare for the holidays. So many people to visit. Countless traditions to keep up with. A whole stack of favorite recipes to bake.
And suddenly, what was supposed to be a family-focused time to be grateful for the important things in our lives has turned into a stressful, complicated circus.
It doesn’t have to be so crazy though.
Instead of only sharing what I’ve learned about the holidays through the years, I’ve invited another 10 homemaking experts to help uncover exactly how to make the holidays the beautiful time of year they should be.
Be sure to check out the introductions post to read more about all of the homemaking experts and to visit their websites.
What is the ONE thing homemakers should be sure to do well ahead of time to prepare for the holidays?
Emily Chapelle –
Declutter your family’s toys (not just the kids’ things). A lot of families do a “toy purge” in December, telling kids they need to make room for their new presents. Instead, I suggest doing it as early as possible – in November, October, or even throughout the year – and with no connection to getting more in the future. This way, the whole family will get used to living with less and appreciating and caring for what you have.
You might find that decluttering toys way earlier than usual will result in shorter wish lists and more time, money, and energy for the relationships and traditions that matter most.
Laura Wittmann –
Have a family meeting! Sit down with your family and ask them to list ONE activity/tradition that means the most to them. Explain that this year you will be making some changes and letting some things go in order to concentrate on the very best. Their answers may surprise you and this will help you prioritize the things that bring the family the most joy. Weed out the things that don’t contribute to that. Negotiate and compromise.
For instance, if everyone loves a whole house decked out for the holidays but everyone mumbles and grumbles when it comes to helping take it all down then maybe it means pulling back on some of the decor. We only decorate the living room in our house so it’s pretty easy to put up and take down and everyone helps.
Stop being busy concentrating on the things of less importance and go big on what does matter!
Joshua Becker –
Gift-lists are absolutely essential. When buying gifts for other people, be intentional to give gifts or experiences that add value–not just clutter. Develop a budget and stick to it.
But it is also important to create a gift-list for your own family (especially kids) to give to others before they start buying you gifts. This list can help keep down the amount of useless gifts (aka: clutter) that we often find in our homes after the holiday season.
Courtney Carver –
Cross a few things off the holiday to-do list. Do you have to go to parties every weekend? Do you really need more decorations? Can you skip that sale that always makes you crazy? Become intentional about how you spend your time.
Becky Rapinchuk –
Clean up! If you are reluctant to entertain or welcome friends and family into your home, do a quick clean up and open your home.
Jen Jones –
I always try and have my guest room ready to go a week or two prior to Thanksgiving, never knowing who we may be hosting during the last few months of the year. We find many of our family travels to the area over the holidays, and by keeping the guest room cleaned out and stocked with clean linens, a coffee station, toiletries and bottled water, we can host anyone at a moment’s notice.
Andrew Mellen –
Make a list of what you want to accomplish and then make timed appointments with yourself on a calendar to methodically achieve each incremental goal.
If you don’t schedule the time and actually keep the appointments with yourself, you will give away that time and back yourself into a corner and then run around trying to close that time gap at the last minute.
Rachel Maser –
Holiday cards are a big tradition for us. I make sure to have a family photo scheduled earlier in the year (July-October at the latest). The photo needs to be of the entire family! Not just the children. Children are the cutest, but I feel strongly that each member of the family is valuable and that we act as a family unit. Not a family run-by, and centered around the children. It’s important for the children to know this, and feel a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves. I love receiving holiday cards, and my absolute favorites are the ones with photos of my dear friends & family…not just their kids.
I’m a huge advocate for Mothers & Women, and I believe a yearly photograph of the family is a perfect reason to refresh your look, purchase a new outfit, and spend a little time on yourself. Every moment a woman spends on self-care will multiply in having more energy to happily spend on & with others. When we feel better about ourselves, we feel better about everything.
I like to mail my holiday cards out in November. This gives more time to enjoy the cards, and a lot more time to enjoy December.
Danielle Smith –
Holiday cards are so high on my list, I would suggest taking family photos and choosing your cards well in advance to avoid last minute ‘rush’ expenses or the pressure of trying to get them all in the mail during the last week before the holiday.
However, if cards are not the priority for you that they are in our home (for many I know they aren’t) I would suggest a little planning – take a look at the months of November and December to mark off any days you know are already accounted for (holiday parties, family events, school plays) so that you can be sure to include all of the traditions that matter most to you and your family – cutting down your own holiday tree, a night of Christmas caroling, cookie baking with your kids.
The best part of the holidays is enjoying the moment – and being over-scheduled or stressed can ruin that.
Beau Coffron –
Write down your menu at least 2-3 weeks in advance. My Mother-In-Law taught me this and it is invaluable to have it write in front of you on a regular basis. This way you can tweak it over time without forgetting anything.