With holidays such as: Halloween, Thanksgiving, your kid’s birthday, Hannukah, Christmas, and New Year’s on their way, a lot of deep breathing will be in order. Another way to stay sane is to be proactive and prepare ahead.

The Sanity Checklist

Think of holiday preparation as a college course. You got the syllabus, and you know what work you’re in store for. Now instead of cramming and getting all stressed out, do what you can ahead of time. Instead of getting all stressed out, you may find that if you prepare in advance, you may actually relax and enjoy the celebrations.

It’s Never Too Soon To:

1) Preplan your or your kids’ Halloween costumes. Start thinking about it in the summer. You can collect clothing and accessories during the upcoming months. Leaving it for last minute could cost you a lot on a costume and in creativity.
2) Stock up on canned goods. Of course, fresh foods are preferred, but having veggies handy at the last minute helps. You can always toss them in soups too. Also, food drives for the needy are always asking for donations during the holiday season.
3) Get an Oil Change. If you’re planning to go out of town, you don’t want to leave a trip to the garage for last minute. Just check your oil levels before you finally hit the road.
4) Clean out the freezer. Surely there are packages in your freezer that are so full of crusty ice that you can’t even tell what the food once was. Toss them. Make room for the big meats and desserts you’ll need space for.
5) Buy gifts all year long. Take a corner in the closet and collect items you think certain friends and family members will love. Also, buy some generic items for last-minute, gift-giving opportunities. Don’t get caught in a long store line or having to pay extra for rush shipping online.
6) Organize your holiday card earlier in the year. Why rush to toss everyone in a picture? You can use a photo from a summer family vacation. You can create a card from a compilation of favorite photos. Starting the project early will be less stressful, and you might get your cards out in time.
7) Clean the china and polish the silver. Or, stock up on paper plates, bowls, and napkins. Plan to use your everyday silverware or the good stuff—plasticware is just not good for the environment.
8) Buy stamps in bulk now. Why spend time in line at the post office? Order postage online in advance so you’ll have it ready when needed. You can even print shipping labels from several different websites including Amazon, Ebay, and USPS.
9) Make a folder for recipes you find throughout the year. If there’s a recipe for Christmas monkey cookies you want to try, stick it in the holiday folder, so it’s easy to find later on.
10) Figure out where you or your guests will sleep. Organizing hotels in advance will save money, and you don’t have to worry about rooms being all sold out. If you’re staying with Aunt Edna at her place, find out what you’ll need to bring (blankets, pillows, etc.) If others are staying with you, get out that air mattress now and make sure it’s not mildewy or has a leak from a cat claw.

Take It Easy

There are certainly a bunch of other ideas you can come up with if you want to get a head start on the seasonal chaos. Just breathe and smile. It will all work out—even if you leave it for the last minute.
If you want to read about other helpful tips for families and holidays, check out www.GetThrive.com