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Winning The Holiday Errand Battle

posted Dec 21, 2010, 1:49 PM by Kristin Mastromarino Vander Wiede
The holidays add enough extra tasks to our to do list to drive us crazy this time time of year.  There are few people I know who manage to keep it simple.  Even with the best intentions, getting caught up in the retail marketing, the guilt of leaving someone out or failing to meet the Martha Stewart image of holiday joy can put tremendous pressures on the perfectionist. 

Wendy, you are already ahead of the game because you have identified your responsibilities leading up to Christmas.  Just having it written down and visually outlined is a huge first step in accomplishing your holiday goals for the week.  I propose that you can take care of the majority of your tasks in one afternoon at the grocery store, leaving you the rest of the week to wrap presents and cook.  The key around the holidays is to eliminate the amount of stops you need to make in the hectic holiday retail shuffle so you can spend more time at home and less time frustrated with traffic and people.


Let's tackle the gifts first.  While there seems to be an overwhelming amount of gifts left to give, you are in the home stretch.  A box of holiday cards, gift certificates to restaurants or popular shopping stores or cash will quickly take care of those on your list.  Many grocery stores carry a plethora of choices when it comes to quick gift cards, everything from Itunes to Walmart.  While the perfectionist in you may wish to find a more personal gift for your nail lady or milkman, cash is always king and no one is going to scoff at a bonus to treat themselves to something special before or after the holidays.  


Stocking stuffers can also be purchased on your grocery store run.  Just walk down the cosmetic aisle for your girls and you will find so many choices, from lip glosses, nail polishes, hair bands and more.  Grab boxed candies and other pre-packaged treats in the seasonal aisle and check out the office supply aisle for pens, post-its, batteries and other small items that everyone can use.  And don't forget to fall back on the gift card shelf as well.


Lastly, spend some time creating an organized food shopping list before you leave the house.  List all of the ingredients you will need to bake your cookies.  Cross off the ingredients you already have in stock at your house.  You will already feel like you accomplished something!  Then do the same for the meals that you are going to prepare for your party and the paper goods you need.

The more time you spend detailing a list of gifts and ingredients you need to pick up at the grocery store ahead of time the faster your time in there will be.  But you will also be saving a ton of time on second and third trips for forgotten items.  Here are my suggested goals for each day. If you devote 2-4 hours a day to each, you should meet your deadlines and get to all of your holiday events.


Monday:  Create Shopping List.  Grocery Store Run.  Wrap Gifts.
Tuesday:  Bake
Wednesday:  Clean and prepare your house
Thursday:  Prep any food ahead of time for tomorrow Christmas Eve party.
Friday:  Finalize the meal.  Relax and enjoy time with your family.

Check in to see how Wendy did with her assignment next Monday at  or  Kristin Mastromarino is a Professional Organizer and owner of Livable Solutions Professional Organizing and The Organized Lifestyle Store, located in Guilford, CT.