Giving gifts to our family and friends is the core of the holiday season but is one of the biggest stressors for work at home moms. We are already stretched for precious time and we know the difficulty of balancing clients with family. It’s a constant juggling game between the two and when we add all the holiday preparations to our overflowing lists, all the fun is often sucked right out of the holiday season.
Now is the time to make a plan of action and get organized with all that needs to happen before the holidays are upon us. Here are some practical tips for easing into the holidays from one WAHM to another:
Take control of your finances early, before your holiday shopping begins, and develop a realistic budget to follow. If you can avoid using credit cards and only pay cash for gifts, you will breathe easier in January when the credit card bill arrives. Paying cash helps you stay on budget and will prevent you from making any rash decisions or buying outlandish gifts.
Prior to driving to the mall, make a list of your gift ideas for each person so you won’t be left wandering aimlessly from store to store, hoping for some divine inspiration. With the outrageous cost of gasoline, bundle your shopping trips to stores that are near each other. Your time is worth money to your clients and should be viewed as valuable by you, too.
Take advantage of your lunch break to shop online. Ordering online is a godsend when you need to ship items out of state. Paying for the online company to ship a gift is far less costly and time consuming than packing it up yourself and waiting with half the town in line at the post office. Be focused and use any breaks in your work schedule to your advantage. Write out a few holiday cards or wrap a few presents in between client calls. Both tasks become more manageable when broken down into smaller time frames.
When you sit down to write your gift list with a nice cup of tea, decide if you will buy gifts just for family members or if you will also include your children’s teachers, bus drivers, garbage haulers, postal workers, religious education teachers, sports coaches…you get the drift. The list could get very long and break your budget if you don’t plan well. A great gift idea for these “extra” people in your life is something homemade. If you are a big holiday baker, simply buy a few pretty tins and bake a few extra batches of your favorite cookies or breads. For those of you who do not bake, look for some recipes for making “Gifts in a Jar”. You can buy large or small mason jars at craft stores and you simply layer the dry ingredients of your favorite cookie recipe, close the lid, tie with pretty ribbon, and you have a lovely gift. Don’t forget to attach a copy of the recipe to the jar!
Organizing your holiday card list early will eliminate many headaches and hand cramps later on. Pare down your list, order your cards early, order your stamps online or with your postal carrier, and put all the addresses on computer labels. You can easily find labels with holiday designs and you can add a fun font for a customized look. Many card companies also offer to have your cards stamped with your family or business name, thus saving even more time.
Can you delegate any of the holiday prep to your older children or spouse? Your computer wizard teenager might be willing to input your holiday card list so you can print out address labels. Maybe an older child would be willing to babysit for the day so you can shop for gifts in peace. If you are preparing a holiday dinner, ask other relatives or friends to bring a dish. Older elementary school kids can help read recipes and layer the items in your gift jars.
Rather than build up your holiday as a Martha Stewart-recreation, complete with handmade gift wrap, make your holiday plans realistic to suit the needs of your family and your schedule. Focus instead on the peace, love and joy in your life and take time to count your many blessings.
Article By: Aurelia Williams is a Certified Life Coach that specializes in helping women achieve balance and less stress in their busy lives. Get a free consultation here.