No-Fail Holidays

Picture a holiday season with no worry, hurry or drama. What would that even be like? What would it mean for you if you were ahead of the game and you had all of December to just be present with your family? If you struggle with the classic ADHD challenges of organization and time awareness this may sound like a crazy pipe dream.  

It did to me. But once I had my first three children and started turning into the Grinch each December I knew I needed a system.  Over the years I’ve developed, used, and tweaked this system, and my Christmases have gone from a chaotic mess to a time of year I can enjoy again while still keeping everyone on my list happy. If your ADHD gets in the way of your merry making, this guide will help you create a system so you can feel more organized, less stressed and more in control this holiday season.

Holidays, your way

Your experience with holidays growing up in your home has likely influenced the way you celebrate. If gifts and merriment were sparse in your family of origin you may try to make up the difference by going overboard with your kids. If your parents went all out you might feel the need to carry on the tradition. And that’s okay. But how is it working for you?

Christmas was huge in my home growing up so I felt like that was the only way. It turns out my kids get bored opening a lot of gifts and would rather spend their day enjoying what they’ve received than opening more. Some of the kids’ gifts make it the whole year in their packaging and their rooms are over-full, so we scale back a little every year.

Take cues from your family. What makes the day special for YOU and YOUR people? Do that. Plan accordingly.

Speaking of planning…

If you haven’t yet, create your gifting list. I like to do this as early as possible to get my radar switched on. I’ve used apps, spreadsheets and even just the notes app on my phone. Choose whatever you’ll really use. The things I like to keep track of are:

  • Gift tiers (family gifts, friend gifts, teacher/coach gifts, neighbor gifts)
  • Names of each recipient
  • Gift ideas with budget
  • Where each gift is hidden in my home

And then since I do a lot of online shopping, I color code to indicate:

  • When a gift has been purchased
  • When the gift has been received  

Once I know who I’m shopping for, I notice deals and gift ideas as I shop or browse and I can pick up things as I go. It’s more likely I’ll get things on sale this way.

Start early

My Christmas shopping begins December 26th but you don’t have to go that length. I like to shop the Hobby Lobby after Christmas sale for wrapping papers, boxes and bags for the next year. Usually while I am there I can find an ornament or decoration that will cover one or two of my gift tiers entirely. I love heading into the season knowing that I’m covered on teacher, coach, church teachers/leaders, and neighbor gifts! I purchase packaging for them at the same time so I’m totally covered.

If there is a DIY element to the gifts, my early deadline to have this done is November so crafting on a deadline doesn’t dampen my holiday cheer! At the very latest, December. No crafting for me in December! I don’t have time for that.

We have a tradition of hitting up Costco regularly starting in September as their toys start rolling in. Many of the items come through for just a limited time and some can’t be found anywhere else. We buy more than we need and return surplus as we get a better idea of what all we will have.

Know exactly what you need going into black Friday so you don’t overspend but you get exactly what you need for exactly who needs it.

Receipts are gold

I don’t do many returns the rest of the year but my holiday receipts are critical. Whether it’s a surplus item or something didn’t work right Christmas morning, you need those receipts! We keep an envelope taped to the inside of a cabinet so receipts slip right in there when we get home without the risk of losing them. If you want a more organized system, more power to you! But receipts aren’t really my thing. This suffices for the one time of year I am on top of my receipt game.

December reckoning

In early December we like to pull out everything we have for everyone from their hiding places around the house (easy, since I’ve noted where everything is hidden as mentioned above) and look at the big picture. This helps us see which holes we need to fill or where we might have too much. I also separate stocking stuffers into bags so they are ready to go into socks the night of. We wrap a little in the evenings with a Christmas movie and then hide things again because nothing goes under our tree until Christmas but I know I’m in the minority on that. I am a wrapping nerd so I wrap the gifts in rounds. Everyone has something to open each round of gifts that is in the same category or same “level” as everyone else and each round gets its own color paper. But this is where your family traditions come into play. How can you create a system for the way your family does presents?

Christmas Eve is for family and fun so no wrapping happens that night. This is the biggest and best change I’ve made from the way I started. It makes all the difference for me on Christmas Day so I can enjoy the spirit of the day with the ones I love. 

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