I sat with one of my clients this week and listened as she expressed her extreme frustration about the looming holiday season. She told me that every year that, despite her best intentions, November always evaporates and leaves her no time to plan the Christmas she envisioned for her family. As a result, she panic buys presents, overspends, loses track of what needs to be done and is left with an experience that wasn’t as joyful as she hoped.
She’s not alone in how she feels. I have so many clients and friends who struggle to balance seasonal holiday planning with their everyday lives. And, I must admit, that the thought of what the next six weeks has to hold does make me quietly sigh to myself – no matter which way you approach everything, it takes up a lot of time.
But, seasonal holiday TIME shouldn’t feel like work.
"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas."
- Peg Bracken
In order to try and help you through it I have mapped out a six week time-saving guide to making Christmas at home a more thoughtful and clutter free TIME.
1. 15th November: Plan
2. 22nd November: Get your home Christmas ready
3. 29th November: Buy local
4. 6th December: Buy time
5. 13th December: Don’t buy at all
6. 20th December: Sharing
A dear friend of my decided to change how she approached gift giving this year and decided that as opposed to things, which inevitably are forgotten pile up in closets, she would invest in her family and bought everybody a little bit of TIME. A new year family weekend in Paris, a trip to Harry Potter studios and a night away in a fancy hotel for her and her partner. No wrapping, no excess, no unnecessary plastic. Genius.
Worried about what will be under the tree, there’s a solution for that too. Stocking presents – small thoughtful gifts beautifully wrapped and, of course, the joy of planning how best to spend family time.
This may not work for every family, but if you take time to plan out what presents are actually needed, and why you’re going to give them, perhaps this holiday can be more about TIME and less about cluttered excess.
“Remember this December, that love weighs more than gold.”
- Josephine Daskam Bacon
Step 1 SET INTENTIONS - ask what you and your family really want from Christmas.
"Let us keep Christmas beautiful without a thought of greed."
- Ann Garnett Schultz
TIME is in your hands, curl up one Sunday with the family and discuss what Christmas means to the family – snow, presents, the gift of giving, family time, hot chocolates, winter walks, lots of food, old movies, visiting friends, time off school and work.
This can take less than 1 hour, keep the TV off and use hot chocolates as a treat for everyone contributing!
Write it ALL down (use a little note book that you can keep in your bag at all times) and think how this can translate into how you spend your time and money. Things to think about:
· Jot down the name of everyone on your gift giving list along with an idea of what they would like.
· If you’re hosting a party or have family staying, make a note of any special food requests
· Activity planning – what would you like to do and when can you fit them all in.
· Set a ballpark figure for how much you can spend on gifts—it will help you stay grounded when the shopping gets frenzied.
· Keep your “what Christmas means to me” words written in the front of the book so, in times of stress, you can remember why this time of year is so special.
Step 2: INVENTORY OF THE HOUSE – what do you have left over from last year.
This step is one of the key areas to do NOW.
It really makes a difference to the budget and to managing the clutter that comes with Christmas.
Put aside a quiet afternoon or evening to gather what you’ll reuse this year and declutter the old things of Christmas past:
· Old Christmas wrapping paper, ribbons, gift cards, Christmas cards
· Christmas decorations for inside and outside (if they are accessible)
· Food produce you will use for Christmas (chutneys, Christmas puds and cake)
· Christmas DVDs and books
· Winter soft furnishings
· Liquor and wine
· Children’s toys (more on this next week)
Go through the above and remove all the old, broken, out of date, not in theme and not loved. Put it in a black bag and remove it from your home – charity or bin. After that, write down in your notebook what you need for your home to host Christmas.
Really make sure that you think about the need list. Do you need to buy everything? Can you make some of what you need? For example, undoubtedly, wrapping paper will be on your list. A great way to reclaim some family time and personalise your gifts is to make your own gift wrap. Just type “Homemade Christmas Wrapping Paper” into your search engine to see dozens of fantastic examples. It tics so many boxes – cheaper, ethical, recyclable and fun!
“Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more”
- Dr. Seuss
The ideas here break down the enormity of the next six weeks in to do-able job. It will help you to fit everything into your busy schedule and focus on what is most important.
Email me if you could use a helping hand and you need some Heyworth Gordon TIME!
- Olivia x