9 Ways to Buy Yourself More Time to Tackle Your Holiday To-Do List

Stephanie Booth | Nov 18, 2016 Food & Party
9 Ways to Buy Yourself More Time to Tackle Your Holiday To-Do List
Image: iStock.com/Massonstock

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'Tis the season to feel frantic. Instead of 12 days of Christmas to get ready, let's be honest: We could truly use about 1,200.

But before you attempt to tamp down your stress with yet another glass of eggnog, check out the following tips. Not only will they save you time, but can salvage what's left of your peace of mind.

  • Use a gift app


    Put that smartphone to work, suggests Maura Thomas, founder of RegainYourTime.com and author of Personal Productivity Secrets. Download an app like Santa's Bag to track who you buy for, what sizes they wear, what you've already bought them, and where you've squirreled it away in your house. (Important!) You'll never have to start a list from scratch again.

  • Go DIY with your gifts


    If you're a generous soul who likes to gift everyone from the FedEx guy to your best friend's nana, "an afternoon making a big batch of something, dividing it, and tying ribbons is an efficient way to cross many [people] off your list at once," Thomas says. Try making flavored syrup for coffee or ice cream, infused olive oil, liqueur, or foaming hand soap.

  • Give gifts that give back


    Want to do good and save time? Skip the mall entirely and make donations instead to a friend's favorite charity or cause. Look into gift cards like Oxfam or Kiva that let the recipient pick a cause to support. Plant a tree in someone's name. For kids, Thomas suggests Adopt-A-Manatee or helping them foster an orphaned elephant, rhino, or giraffe.

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  • Keep a master to-do list


    "You can only truly manage what you can see, and you can only see what is outside of your head," notes Thomas. Keep one ginormous to-do list on your smartphone "and you can often knock things off at unexpected times," she adds. Keeping a list also makes it easier to…

  • Group tasks together

    Shutterstock/Andrea Obzerova

    Wrap all your presents in ONE sitting, Thomas says. Shop for cookie ingredients ONCE. Put up holiday lights in ONE fell swoop ... You get the drift. This strategy will keep you from having to revisit the same task multiple times. (And give you the satisfaction of truly marking things off your to-do list.)

  • Delegate


    "So much of what you need done, like errands, online ordering, and gift wrapping, can be done by someone else -- and it often costs less than you think," Thomas says. Getting help isn't a sign of weakness, FYI. It frees you up to take on other tasks -- and knock down your stress by a few crucial percentage points.

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  • Unplug already


    When you're finally taking off from the office, put an out-of-office message on your work email. "Have your message say that you'll be gone a day before you're actually out and a day after you get back to make transitions easier," says Thomas. It's better to under-promise and over-deliver." 

  • Lose the gifts this year


    Sounds like sacrilege, but think about it. If you agree with your family and friends to commit spending TIME together instead of exchanging gifts, "you'll relieve much of the stress of the holiday season, cut down on stuff, and save time that would otherwise be spent shopping and wrapping," says Thomas. Plus you'll find it easier to stay in the -- wait for it -- present.

  • Start planning for next year


    Don't mind the thought of hitting after-Christmas sales to stock up on supplies you'll need next go-around? Go for it. "You'll free up some time during the next holiday season," assures Thomas.

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