As the days get shorter and cooler, it’s natural to want to while away your Sundays cozied up on the couch. But rather than binge-watching yet another series on Netflix or worse, getting sucked into an afternoon of yelling at the TV —otherwise known as watching football— why not make this the year you head into the holiday season prepared?
Just in case you think it’s still ages away, allow me to burst your ‘the year’s far from over’ bubble. Thanksgiving is in two month’s time and Christmas is in three. I know, right! Where the heck did 2017 go?
Right, now that I have your attention, let’s look at what we can do to avoid a repeat of last year’s last minute dot com shopping and cooking craziness. (Remember how much fun that wasn’t?)
I’m all about living each day as it comes, but there’s definitely something to be said for planning ahead when the situation calls for it. Along with minimizing stress and keeping you accountable, it also mentally prepares you and ensures you don’t miss out on the fun stuff.
After all, wouldn’t you much rather spend Christmas eve relaxing with a glass of eggnog rather than fighting the crowds at Macy’s or slaving over a hot stove? I know I would.
Stock the Freezer With Delicious Home-Cooked Meals
Life is busy and as a result we eat more take-out than we should. This habit is bad for our health and our wallet. By preparing a bunch of meals now, you’ll save money, feel better and maybe even shed a few pounds. Best of all, you’ll eliminate the stress of figuring out what to feed everyone when you’re in the midst of family fun time.
Having a bunch of healthy frozen meals on hand can be a godsend, but it’s also nice to have things like pasta sauces and pre-packed smoothie bags that require minimum additional food prep. Spending time cooking on a Sunday needn’t be a solo job (unless kitchen time is creative time for you), you could make it a family affair and involve the kids.
Make Christmas Gifts
Let’s face it, nobody needs more stuff. Well, certainly not store-bought stuff that’s just going to end up in the back of the closet. On the other hand, handmade gifts are a whole other story. Especially if they’re edible.
Here’s the thing about making something yourself. People appreciate it so much more because they recognize the love and effort that went into making them. It’s more rewarding to give a gift you made yourself, it’s fun to do and it’s an awesome opportunity to help kids understand that gifts don’t have to come from the mall.
If you’re stuck for homemade gift ideas just look on Pinterest or ask Google. Another option is to put together a holiday gift basket tailored to the recipient’s tastes. If you were putting one together for me, for example, you’d fill it with vegan chocolate, organic red wine and fair trade coffee. (Let me know if you need my address.)
Plan Ahead for the Holidays by Baking and Freezing
Who doesn’t love the smell and taste of freshly baked cookies? Unfortunately, when you have a million other things to do it’s so much easier to just pick some up at the store. That’s okay in a pinch, but what if I told you there was a way for you to have your cookies and eat them too?
Here’s how. You batch-prepare and freeze cookie dough. Then, when you’re expecting guests (or just want a treat) all you have to do is take it out the freezer and pop it in the oven. Easy peasy.
Okay, so why not just buy ready made dough at the store? Good question. Firstly, storebought dough is full of dodgy ingredients and secondly, baking from scratch is both rewarding and fun. So go ahead and channel your inner Nigella.
Spring Clean Your Home
Who says spring cleaning has to happen in spring? This year, why not go rogue and spring clean your home in fall. Given the inevitable influx of new things that magically arrive over the holidays, we often find ourselves overrun with clutter come January.
By decluttering before the holidays you’ll head into the new year feeling far less overwhelmed. Also, come spring your home will already be shipshape. When your neighbours are hard at work cleaning out their garages, you’ll be relaxing you on the deck with a pina colada and a good book.
Treat the Kids to a Yes Day
In her book Yes Day! Amy Krouse Rosenthal encourages parents to treat their kids to a yes day. As a parent, you probably spend a lot of time saying ‘no’ to your offspring. It’s understandable. Kids are constantly pushing boundaries as they learn and grow. Part of this is making all sorts of (often unreasonable) demands.
Having to turn them down all the time can take it’s toll, especially when you have to say ‘no’ because you just don’t have the time to indulge them. The holidays are a lot of fun, but it’s also a busy time of year. This often results in saying ‘no’ more than usual and can leave children feeling like their wants don’t matter.
You must of course have proper boundaries in place before committing to a day of agreeing to their every request, but gifting your child with a yes day can be a wonderful way for them to feel autonomous. Plus, it’s a huge amount of fun for the whole family. Pizza for breakfast anyone?
Indulge in Some Charitable Giving
As we head towards the holidays, it’s important to take some time to think about those less fortunate than us. Of course, we should ideally be doing this year round, but Christmas has a tendency to leave the lonely even lonelier.
There are plenty of ways to give back over the holidays, such as volunteering your time at a soup kitchen or old age home. If you have kids make a point of involving them in whatever you choose to do. It’s a really great way of showing them how good they have it without making a big deal of it.
You don’t have to spend your entire Sunday being productive, just take a morning or afternoon and do something on this list. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel after stocking your freezer or cleaning out your basement will totally be worth missing a game of football. No, really.