Use these tips to plan your holiday journey! Identify priorities and let unnecessary stress inducers slide. Focus on family and friends for joyous celebrations!
Brace for the whirlwind of socializing that comes with the final two months of the year. Review the last 10 months of Organized365 tips starting with those featured in our October blog post:
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Traveling with your pet this holiday season?
Packing a separate bag will make it easier to find the pet item you need quickly. Josie actually has several to carry all of the food, bowls, treats, toys, and blankets.
To speed meal prep and medication administration, you can package individual, pre-measured portions into plastic containers.
It is important to watch what your pet is eating and drinking. In particular, pay attention to anything snitched from an unwary, just-the-right-height child or offered by an enamored relative/friend.
No one else will be calculating the cumulative impact that their treat will have on your pet's tummy. That responsibility, and cleaning up the mess that could result, is on you.
Exercise and rest should reflect your pet's normal routine as closely as possible. Both will help ensure that your pet is happy and able to socialize safely. A tired and/or bored pet can become a cranky, possibly dangerous pet. Bonus: get some exercise and rest with your pet. It will have a similar positive impact on your attitude and socialization.
Other hazards your pet may encounter include: overly loving (grabby) kids, other animals both friendly and not, toxic plants and foods, and stray, bite-sized toys. If your pet is used to being on leash, looping an end through your belt loop is a great way to keep them close by and easy to monitor while freeing your hands and much of your attention for celebrating with friends and family.
Depending on the duration of your visit, you may wish to provide food beyond a contribution to the holiday meal. Pick up a couple of bottles of wine or beer from a local craft brewery. This is a great time to experience and highlight local foods. Being from Wisconsin, cheese and beer are ALWAYS a part of our holiday food plan.
Don't forget to consider the dishes needed to transport your food. Using containers that you don't want back makes cleaning and keeping track easier for you and your hosts. Make sure that you have a way to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
If you are going to need to do some prep once you arrive, let your hosts know in advance so they can incorporate that into their own planning.
A long journey whether by plane, train or automobile can require a lot of extras. With hours to kill games, books, playlists, etc are critical for maintaining calm. In addition, plans for having necessary refreshments and consequently rest stops also need to be calculated.
Beyond the creature comforts, have a plan for a delays or emergencies. Particularly important if you are traveling by car. An emergency first aid kit and basic car maintenance tools can save hours and stress from minor travel mishaps. A bit of antifreeze or a quart of oil maybe just what is needed to allow you to "limp" to the nearest garage. Don't skip this "Plan for the worst, hope for the best" step.
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Who's watching the house? Beyond making plans to hold your mail and suspend newspaper delivery, will you need someone to shovel your drive, water houseplants and generally keep an eye on your home?
You may wish to connect with a friendly neighbor and offer to reciprocate when they are out of town or pay a local teenager to be your caretaker.
This is type of relationship can be used for many years and helps build strong neighborhood community relationships, not to mention giving you peace of mind to relax and enjoy the holiday.
Map Your Holiday Journey
List events you will be celebrating with loved ones in the coming months. Name the loved ones with whom you will be celebrating. Highlight those events that can not and will not be missed.
The remaining events, are your stress relievers. You can decide how you will celebrate. Perhaps a phone call or hand-written note will work as well as getting together.
Give yourself permission to prioritize those people and events that you most value.
Reflect on the depth and breadth of your commitment. How many people are you hosting? Will they be with you for one meal, several meals or will the visit span multiple days. It's pretty common to have some variation with lots of people for a big meal and a few staying overnight. You may want to have a planning list for each situation.
Plan your food. How many meals will you be serving? Will overnight guests need meals beyond breakfast and snacks? Will some meals be eaten out or at another home? Start your planning here. The amount of meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking/baking you need to do will depend on these numbers.
Plan for cleaning. List all of the rooms that will be heavily used by your guests. Don't forget space for children and/or pets to let off steam. Assume guests could "happen" into any room. The expected level of "clean" will vary by room. In bathrooms & kitchen, try for spotless. In a room that may not be seen at all, like an office, a quick vacuum and straightening is good enough.
Make a list of your best support resources, your friends and family. How might they pitch in and assist you? With rare exception, guests are happy to pitch in and help. Consider what you need and who can best provide it. A guest who avoids meal prep may be a cocktail mixing genius. Put them to work! Do your best to match needs, skills, and individuals.
Struggling to complete projects at home or work? Enlist a friend or like-minded colleague as an accountability partner (AP). Set incremental goals tied to a specific timeline and ask your AP to check-in with you periodically to track progress and provide encouragement. This will likely become a reciprocal relationship, strengthening your connection as it moves both of you toward your goals.
You're The Guest, Be the Best
Check in with your hosts well in advance and ask how you can contribute. Offer your go-to dishes but LISTEN to what your hosts request. You may offer to bring dessert but if the host needs you to bring green bean casserole that is what you should bring, even if it isn't your favorite. Consider your mode of travel, length of travel and cooling/heating requirements when planning food prep and transport. Nobody wants to be the cook that made everyone ill.
You're The Guest, Be the Best
Plan for special needs/comforts. Does your husband love Captain Crunch? Bring your own box, especially if your hosts do not have children. Do you tend to be chilly at night? Bring warm pjs and add fuzzy socks for good measure. Will the adults want to watch “the big game”? Bring something to entertain the kids and perhaps yourself as well.
Hosting the Holiday Meal
Use your "auxiliary" freezer...the garage. It is likely that guests will arrive with dishes that need to be kept cool until dinner is served. Making space in your refrigerator/freezer, by storing your perishable food in a cooler in the garage, allows you to graciously accommodate their needs.
Hosting the Holiday Meal
Avoid spills and other disasters by planning where you will serve snacks. Bowls of nuts and plates of cheese will need to be kept up high if you will have small children and/or pets attending your holiday gathering. Scout out ideal spots in advance to avoid mishaps.
Have a damp towel or other cleaning items stowed in a convenient location for quick clean-ups. No one expects perfection and you shouldn't either, focus on having a fun and memorable time celebrating with those you hold dear.
Ornaments & holiday decorations can multiply over the years. As they come out of storage and are carefully placed in and outside the house, the items that never make it out of the boxes can be donated or discarded. You have simplified and added joy to someone else’s holiday.
Watch a favorite movie. Break out a family puzzle. Read favorite holiday books. Celebrate the season and your relationships by honoring annual traditions. Let the youngest member of the family suggest something new.