I graduated with a B.S in Home Economics, and we were taught lots about time management. I can do several things at once (thanks to some of these TM techniques.) No, I am not superwoman, I just put into practice what some very smart professors taught. Maybe some of these "rules" can help you. I know what you are thinking...where does she get off telling us how to handle the mayhem of the holidays? As a formerly exhausted veteran of many a ruined holiday, I can tell you what works and what doesn't. Just read on before you judge me.
1. Never waste time. For instance, when talking on the phone do an additional "Mindless" task that you don't like to do like fold clothes, water the plants or empty the dishwasher. Take advantage of idle hands. It doesn't interfere with your conversation and when you end the call, you also have something productive to show for it.
(1A.) When doing lots of food prep or wrapping (anything that requires repetitive motions), consolidate. This means do things assembly line. Example: Start a pan of water to boil. Scrape all the carrots and wash all in a colander. Cut the ends off all of them at once. Move scraps into a bowl or paper towel to be disposed of later. Slice carrots two or three at a time. Wait to put them into the boiling water all at once. Empty scrap bowl. Move onto next project. Use fewer motions and accomplish more. Example: Wrapping gifts: Have all paper, ribbon, tape, cards, scissors, and pens on a table that has been cleared. Use bags when possible. Have gifts in boxes, if needed. Wrap all presents for one person at a time. Use one kind of paper for each person.
2. Prepare as much food as you can before a big event and freeze it. I have a recipe for a frozen salad that you can make at least a month in advance and it makes a whopping 11x14 pan full! Early prep for anything is always a smart idea. When making regular meals before a holiday, make extra and freeze for those days when time is short and you still have to feed your family.
3. Thanksgiving or Christmas Dressing is a pain to make, BUY it at Cracker Barrel! Request that it NOT be cooked if you must, and cook it yourself or buy it already pre-cooked. Be sure and get gravy too. It will be one of your best expenditures (and Grandma will smile from heaven...and wonder why she didn't do the same thing years ago.)
4. If you are having trouble finding storage room in the refrigerator, NEVER store in round containers. Always use square ones. They stack better and make the most of every square inch. Round bowls, etc waste too much space. Keep the refrigerator organized!
5. When taking holiday food to others, pack the food in disposable containers if possible. (I know if you are taking something to a party you want to use your pretty Christmas dishes, but I am talking about "sending home a meal" with children or taking food to someone who is ill.) They won't have to return anything! It might not look as pretty, but they will be so grateful!
6. Begin October 1 on your quest for little gifts. If you are remembering people at work or other acquaintances, start looking now for small items that can be personalized (Cricut owners!) or otherwise "gussied up". For instance, buy Christmas ornaments like snowflakes or angels and give them in a cellophane bag with sparkly shred and tie with a cute ribbon. You don't have to spend much, when you see something "cute" purchase it and then put it in the "Christmas" drawer until you need it.
7. Mixes like Chex Party Mix are always fun gifts. Make it yourself and find inexpensive containers to give. Flower pots filled with shred and pencils, pens and highlighters for someone's desk are also appreciated gifts. Make jelly. I have a recipe for apple juice and cinnamon red hot candy jelly. It's pretty and good!
8. Buy when things are on sale! 50-75% off makes the long list look a whole lot better.
9. When you have a few minutes BEFORE the holidays begin, sit down and PLAN. Get a calendar and write down goals for October, November and December. Also go ahead and make out your Christmas cards early. That way they will get done BEFORE Christmas this year!!
10. (My friends will be snickering about this one...but it's still true!) Gather all that wadded up tissue paper NOW and iron it! Do NOT use steam. Iron it flat and store it flat. It will be ready for holidays and birthdays and the like. Trust me, this one will save you $ and lots of time!
As you can see, I am just full of timely tips for everyone else. I need to practice what I preach, and when I do, it is amazing how much can be accomplished in 24 hours!