Please welcome my guest today, Chloe Wilson from Get Set Organize. I love this post and I think you’ll find it very helpful for simplifying the holidays.
here, but this article is about an alternative strategy – one I’ve been enjoying for the past few years.
It works on the 80-20 Pareto principle: 80% of your family’s Christmas enjoyment probably comes from 20% of your efforts.
You might have heard of this rule before. I try to use it to focus on the ‘important stuff’ when I’m working but a few years ago I decided to try it when planning for Christmas too.
It was like a breath of fresh air. A weight was lifted.
In a nutshell you cross off 80% of the tasks on your Christmas checklist.
Whether your Christmas organization plan is written down somewhere or buzzing around in your head, it will probably comprise of tasks in the following areas: Cards & Gifts, Menu Planning & Baking and Home Décor & Cleaning.
Now it’s best to keep a few tasks in each category to ensure your Christmas is balanced, but basically for every 5 tasks or every 5 people within a task, choose the most important one and cross out the other 4.
Brutal isn’t it? But it can be done with the benefits of either slashing your $$$ spend and/or your time spend during this pre-Christmas season without losing any of the enjoyment. Here are some ideas of what I mean:
Cut down the number of cards you send by 80%. Just send cards to people who live far away. Explain your new strategy to friends and family you see regularly so that they don’t feel forgotten. They will probably follow your lead!
Cut down the number of personal notes and Christmas letters you send with cards by 80%. If your cards are pre-printed with your name, just leave it at that other than for special friends and family members that you don’t see very often.
Alternatively avoid the whole Christmas card sending thing altogether. Set up a free blog and post your Christmas wishes, news and family photos there. Then send an explanatory e-mail to your Christmas card list with the blog’s link.
Cross off all the adults from your gift list (or just leave those that really matter). Explain to friends and family that you would like to keep this Christmas as ‘gifts for kids only’. Most will be more than happy and who couldn’t do with spending a bit less this year?
If you can’t bear for the adults in your life to be gift-less, consider making them something as a token gesture rather than wasting money on something they don’t want and don’t need. Think baked goods, jams, pickles, chutneys, photo collages or my favorite, homemade vouchers. If you can get your kids involved, all the better. Then the task is not just another chore, but fun family time.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to bake or be crafty, consider charitable gifts that will change lives. Sites like GoodGifts.org allow you to buy a gift of things like a bike for a midwife in a developing country, a malaria net for a whole family or 50 bowls of rice for hungry children in Africa. You buy the gift in the name of your recipient and they receive a card telling them about the good deed. This is a quick and simple task to perform online.
Buy your remaining gifts online. You will save 80% of the time you would otherwise spend travelling to the shopping mall and standing in queues. You will probably buy less too.
Remember the fewer gifts you buy, the less you spend, the less time you spend shopping, the less time you spend wrapping and the less time you spend organizing storage for all the new ‘stuff’ after Christmas.
Menu Planning & Baking
Cross off 80% of those special meals you hosted last year. Inviting friends and family for drinks and nibbles is perfectly acceptable.
Say no to hosting big parties. Invite only 20% off the guests from last year and hold a more intimate affair.
Cross off 80% of the brunches, starters, side dishes and extras you had last Christmas. No-one will go hungry and you’ll have fewer leftovers to label and store.
Cut down your holiday baking to 20% of what you did last year. Ask your family what they can’t do without (perhaps one item per family member) and stop there. Or only cook what you enjoy – not those fiddly recipes that take hours and make a right mess.
Spend less time in the kitchen and more with your family.
Home Décor & Cleaning
Only decorate the main living room in your home this year. Forget about having decorations everywhere, especially outside. Get the tree and one box of decorations out and let the kids test out their creativity. Remember it has to be fun, not perfect.
Don’t buy decorations if yours are in need of replacement. Make them with your kids. There are plenty of ideas online and again you are turning a chore into quality time.
Avoid any home improvement type tasks at this time of year. Guests should be coming to see you, not your house. Share out the remaining mundane cleaning duties. YOU don’t have to do it all. Aim for 20% of what you did last year by assigning talks to other family members.
Enjoy A Stress Free Run Up To The Holidays
Christmas is not about becoming stressed out or going into debt to buy presents or decorations or to entertain friends and family. Get your red pen out and start crossing off those tasks. Even if you can’t make the 80% cut, try something. As the weight lifts the Christmas cheer will come rolling in!
Chloe Wilson shares simple steps that work when organizing your home on her blog Get Set Organize. She is searching for an easier way to make organizing tasks fit into a daily routine, otherwise filled with work and family life. If you have any ideas, she would love to hear them!