Planning for the Holidays

I'm participating in this link-up today and it's all about planning for the holidays! Today I'll be sharing three ways we plan for the holidays to keep the stress down and sprits up. This is our favorite time of year so we love to really savor this season! 

1. Make lists
I make lists for everything around the holidays and it seems to help things run a little smoother. Not only do we have Christmas shopping lists, but also lists things such as ingredients to purchase in order to make a particular recipe to bring to a holiday gathering.

I also like to make a list of all the items we need to bring to a family event / to-do's the day of -- such as pack up the gifts, bring a sweater, grab the dessert from the fridge, unplug the Christmas tree before leaving the house, etc. All of these things seem so obvious, but when you're scrambling to get out the door and on the road by 9am, it's easy to forget things.

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2. Finish shopping ahead of time
I really enjoy choosing gifts for others and like to take my time finding the perfect gift. There's nothing more stressful than trying to find a gift on your way to their house. I don't like buying a generic gift for people, so it's important to me to finish my shopping a couple weeks before Christmas. This year, I'm hoping to have it completed by December 1st!

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3. Schedule down time
The holiday season is one that brings many commitments -- holiday parties, more trips to the mall, family gatherings, etc. It's easy to have a good chunk of your weekends booked before a new month even begins -- which makes it so important to carve out some down time. Choosing an evening to read a book at Starbucks while enjoying a holiday drink or just having a cozy night at home watching a classic holiday movie does wonders for recharging me! 

What are some ways you plan for the holidays?
Do you host holidays or attend friend's / family's gatherings?