Let’s be honest: the holidays, which should be the greatest time of the year, can also be stressful. With family and friends coming in and out of town, gifts to purchase, and cards to send, how does one do it all? Each year, the holidays seem to approach more quickly, and with one blink, they are gone again. Beat the chaos by planning a holiday schedule for you and your family.

Planning out the holidays on a personal calendar may seem daunting, but it can alleviate loads of stress and anxiety. Each year, AFTER the holidays, gather your family for dinner and discuss some of your favorite memories from that holiday season: Did your family enjoy hopping in the car and driving through the neighborhoods looking for Christmas lights? Did you prefer celebrating Christmas with out-of-town family before Christmas Day? Or after? This is a great time for your family to decide what to do this coming holiday and what not to do. What about gifts? Were you panicking to find an Elsa Barbie Doll at the last minute? (Don’t worry, everyone was.) After thinking through your previous holiday season, begin writing down what’s important and what needs to happen before December hits home.

November. This is the time to take advantage of holiday schedule preparation. The beginning of November is the time to start Christmas shopping and get your Christmas cards ordered. Shops tend to be crazy around Thanksgiving/Black Friday and most shoppers can’t find what they are looking for before December even gets here! Keep a note on your phone, or in your planner, with gift ideas for family and friends. Your husband may drop a hint in July about that new grill he’s being eyeing, so be prepared to take note! It may seem crazy shopping for holiday gifts right after Halloween, but come December, you’ll be giving yourself a big pat on the back. Even if you only purchase half of the items on your list, you’ll be relieved to only need a couple shopping trips closer to the holidays. November is also the perfect time to get those personalized holiday cards packaged and ready to be sent. Your holiday/Christmas cards don’t have to be styled to perfection. Don’t have that perfect family photo? Dogwood Hill Collective offers a variety of cards with beautiful illustrations and whimsical designs that are sure to make an impression (no photo necessary). During the first week of November, schedule a time to find the right card for your family. Begin writing down a list of families and friends to whom you want to send your cards. Need to include a more personal note or congratulatory memo on a card? Put a star by their name, so you won’t forget when packaging the cards. Have your cards ordered before Veteran’s Day (usually early/mid November) and have your mailing list finished within the time it takes to receive your completed Dogwood Hill cards in the mail. While you’re at it, order some vintage holiday stamps online, in order to beat the crowds at the post office. Once your cards arrive, set a goal to finish addressing your cards either before Thanksgiving or before December 1 (this will help you enjoy Thanksgiving without having to think about the looming December obligations and events). Tip: if you absolutely hate addressing envelopes, invest in having a local calligrapher write them for you! That’s one less item on your list. And last, for the month of November, begin plotting your holiday décor–having a plan is ideal. Schedule a day for your family to decorate your home together. Perhaps that day is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, while out-of-town guests are still around to assist you. Take this opportunity to create a decorating tradition for your family that will last for years to come! 

December. Now that the decorations have been hung and the cards have been addressed, it’s time to enjoy the holiday parties and time with your loved ones! By the first week of December, you’ll be receiving seasonal invitations–sit down with your family and decide which events to attend and which ones to kindly decline. Mail your personalized holidays cards on December 1 or set another date by which they must be sent. And eliminate Christmas Eve chaos by wrapping gifts ahead of time.

Discovering what’s important to your family and friends and creating a personal schedule is key to conquering the holiday season. It may seem overwhelming, but come Christmas Eve, your list is complete with no need for checking it twice. 

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