How to get your holiday shopping organized
Holiday shopping can be a joy with a little planning and organizationYou just checked your calendar. And panicked. November 1st is around the corner and that means the holiday season is rushing toward you fast.
Time to kick your planning into high gear and get organized! Not to worry. If thinking of all the things you have to buy, from meals to gifts to holiday décor, makes you break out into cold sweats, take a breath. Grab a cup of coffee or tea (or the relaxation beverage of your choice) and take a seat.
We'll go through some simple steps to make this years' shopping experience a breeze... and maybe even a joy.
Holiday Meal Planning 101
You might think you only have to worry about planning one or two big meals for the holidays, depending on what you celebrate and whether you are hosting any of the big days at your home. You may luck out and just have to bring a dish and maybe a host gift.
But, with all the hustle and bustle of the season, it's best to zero in on the day to day when you're making your plans. You're going to be busy between shopping and parties and other festive events. But, you still have to eat. It's time to bust out the calendar.
First, mark all the days you'll be eating at an event. Office parties, dinner at friends' and family's houses, outdoor events you might attend with food (a Christmas parade with food trucks, perhaps?)--these all offer little respites to your cooking routine.
But for the in-between times, you need to plan your meals. You don't want to be caught on a Monday night looking like Old Mother Hubbard with no food in the cupboard. And you don't want to be forced to make any extra shopping trips. Plan your daily meals ahead so those supplies can be picked up on your big weekend grocery runs, or whenever you normally go.
For the big meals, plan several weeks ahead so you can buy ingredients when they go on sale, and so you know you'll have that turkey in plenty of time to thaw in the refrigerator (this can take up to a week, depending on the size of your bird).
If you're hosting the big meal (or a few of them), decide which dishes you will make and which ones guests will contribute. Then, make a schedule. Some things will need to be made ahead (do NOT try to make everything that day – this leads to madness and a high probability of ruined recipes), so jot down which recipes to make on which days, and build your shopping list from that.
Then, plan to buy the ingredients you need ahead of time, in order of perishability. And, for the love of all that is good and holy, set a reminder for when to start thawing that turkey!
Deck the Halls and Grinch-Free Gifting
Before you set out to buy everyone everything they ever wanted... it might be good to set a budget. Look at your finances for the next few months and see what you have to work with.
Becoming destitute to buy everyone in your office and every single family member “the perfect thing” won't fill you with the holiday spirit; it'll fill you with anxiety. See where you can compromise.
Then, once you know who all is on your essential, must buy for list, do some research. Some things can be purchased cheaper online than in stores. But do watch local stores for sales! And then, strategize your approach. Make a plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but don't get sucked into the madness. Black Friday sales aren't always all they're cracked up to be. But DO make a list of things you think each gift recipient would like, and DO consolidate your shopping trips so you don't wind up making ten trips to the same mall.
Just remember, gift cards are fine for some recipients, and you don't have to have the biggest, most expensive Christmas tree you can find. No one is coming to your house with a measuring tape.