Perhaps because I am a native Hoosier like David Letterman, I like top 10 lists. So, here’s a quick list of tips for those of you feeling the crunch. Some you can implement immediately. Others you may have to tuck away as a reminder for next year.

1. Plan, plan, plan: It’s not too late to plan even for this year. Before I start my Christmas shopping, I sit down with my husband and we plan what we’re buying for the kids and other family members.

2. Use Wish Lists: To make the planning process easier, we give our kids a “Wish List” to post on the back of their door at the beginning of each year. As they tell me about things they want, I don’t have to remember them – I simply tell them, “Put it on your wish list.” Then, we reference their list at birthdays, give ideas to family, and make decisions for our own Christmas shopping plan.

3. Turn you plan into lists: Take those plans you made in item 1, and divvy them up by store or shopping center. I.e. Label a piece of paper with a specific store, then list all the items you want to look for when you are at that store.

4. Carry your plan with you: Don’t tell my kids, but I keep a compact notebook in my purse this time of year. In that notebook, I have everything I shared with you in items #1 and #3. I have a quick reference of what we want to purchase as well as a pre-made shopping list by store, making it really easy to run in and pick-up those items when it’s convenient. (Side note: There’s a new product out by Staples that is becoming one of my favorites: Arc Notebook. Check it out!)

5. Decide on events: Just like financial experts tell us to make a financial budget for gift giving, so too you should make a budget for how you want to spend your time. Decide which events are the most important to you and which ones you love but just need to skip this year.

6. Schedule your time: As soon as possible, schedule a few hours with yourself – on your calendar – to do the items that are important to you, such as: Shopping, Baking, Christmas Cards, Wrapping. Get it on the calendar – and guard those appointments – so you don’t stretch yourself too thin.

7. Make room: Throughout the year, get your home ready for the influx of items you may have at Christmas. Get your family in the habit of getting rid of unwanted items. One idea is to have a “purge party” and see which family member can fill the most boxes and bags one afternoon. The winner gets to pick dinner!

8. Delegate: Treat yourself to a house cleaning service during the month of December, get your kids involved in stuffing and stamping Christmas cards, or utilize a charity organization that offers gift wrapping for donations.

9. Eliminate: Don’t feel obligated to display every Christmas item in your home, re-evaluate traditions, or even consider not sending those Christmas cards this year.

10. Follow the KISS principle, and Keep it Simple, Sweetie! Remember, the holidays are for you to enjoy. Don’t make it so complicated that you miss the special joys of Christmas.

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Posted by Janet Jackson

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