Try these 10 home holiday time savers
Dec. 6, 2010 at 6:06 a.m.
Updated Dec. 9, 2010 at 6:09 a.m.
By Kathryn Weber
The month of December is short on time and long on the list of to-do's, making it an important month for thoughtful allocation of our precious holiday hours. With some planning and strategic use of these time helpers, you'll get your holiday chores done and arrive at the New Year less frazzled.
1. Set time limits. We set time limits at work but often leave our personal commitments open-ended. Whether it's gift wrapping, shopping or baking, set a limit for each activity and stick to it. You'll be surprised at how much you can get done when a clock is ticking.
2. Set personal limits. Too much emphasis is put on the perfect gift or cooking the perfect meal. Aim for good instead. Good is good enough, so take the pressure off yourself.
3. Schedule time. We schedule our workdays and activities, but often don't schedule personal commitments. Put shopping, wrapping and baking on the calendar, and be sure to schedule fun and free time, too.
4. Hire help. Put away your red cape and hire yard help and housekeepers. Consider a personal assistant, too. They aren't just for movie stars. Hire a college student or a mom who wants some extra money. Have your assistant pick up dry cleaning, decorate and drop off gifts. Don't think of it as shirking your holiday duties. Think of it as creating a job.
5. Keep lists. Santa has one, and so should you. Having a master list of gifts and activities will keep you on track and prevent over-buying. Try using neon-colored, four-by-six note cards to track purchases and commitments. You can see them easily and find them fast in your purse.
6. Use what you have. Make it a decorating rule to use what you already have around the house. It cuts down time shopping for decoration. Look for branches that can be spray painted gold or silver. Greenery from the yard can be upgraded easily with pinecones or lights.
7. Pick-y decorating. Buy armfuls of pretty holiday floral picks once they go on sale to enable you to create beautiful arrangements quickly. Select a variety of Christmas picks to use in decorations around the house, such as in silk plants to give them a holiday flair. Buy in groups of a dozen or more at a time to be the most effective. Better still, they disassemble quickly.
8. Cook fast. This is the month to get a few crock pot recipes ready so you can make a good meal quickly. A stew or a pot of baked potato soup with some crusty bread and salad makes a quick meal. Make a holiday meal plan so everyone can eat together without putting a crimp on your time.
9. Wrap and roll. Rather than customizing each gift, buy jumbo rolls of the same paper and ribbon. Wrap every gift the same. It looks oh so chic, elegant and is less cluttered looking around the tree. Plus, it's a time saver not switching out rolls, bows and ribbon.
10. Bake ahead. Get a jump start on holiday baking by mixing and refrigerating rolls of gingerbread, molasses and sugar cookie dough. Then when you're ready to bake and decorate, the dough is ready, too.
For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com