As I’ve mentioned in my recent series about getting your creative business ready for the holidays, the holiday season can be kind of hectic when you’re a business owner.
Between your shop’s holiday rush and all of the other wonders of the season to enjoy with family and friends, it can feel a bit overwhelming at times. Okay, maybe more than just a bit. Like really overwhelming.
And although I know that we all love when the holiday sales peak in our stores, most shop owners sacrifice important things from their own lives to make it all come together.
When my shop is all a buzz, usually my personal life is put aside. It turns out that I can’t seem to handle two chaotic and crazy things at a time. So, I push aside the things that truly matter and focus solely on my shop.
This “giving in” has terrible consequences. Something feels like it’s missing and I want it back. Even if I don’t always realize what it is that I’m longing for.
The holidays are no different. I love embracing the holiday season. I squeeze the marrow out of that thing. And I enjoy every minute of it.
So, how do you run a successful creative business around the holidays and spend time with the people and things that truly matter?
There is a trick. Ever since I started my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve learned that going into the busy season ahead with the thought that I’ll simply enjoy the season doesn’t just happen. In order to avoid the pending chaos, I have to actually get ready for the holidays. Now.
It’s kind of like the Boy Scouts saying “Be Prepared”. According to Baden-Powell in 1908, it means that your mind and body are always in a state of readiness.
Now, he was referring to reacting quickly in an emergency since The Great War loomed across Europe. Not quite the same as getting ready for the holiday season. But you can see the parallels.
And I’m not just talking about making sure your shop is prepared to handle the holiday rush and new customers. Although that is really important too.
You also need to spend some time getting your own life ready for the holiday season ahead.
I know this might sound kind of silly. Prepping your life for the holiday season to come in a few months. Isn’t this always what they’re telling us not to do?
But think about those Boy Scouts. Although it might have seemed silly to prepare for a war that was years away, none of them wanted to be the one scrambling to get things in order when the day arrived.
Because even if your shop is running perfectly, the holidays won’t feel complete (or any less crazy) if your personal preparations are neglected.
So, here are some tips that I’ve used the last couple of holiday seasons to help me enjoy the time more with my family.
Figure Out your Priorities
What is important to you this holiday season? How would you like to spend time with family and friends?
Before the holidays begin, decide what the most important things are to making this season extra special. Create a holiday bucket list with your family or write a basic to do list of things you want to put on the calendar.
If you have a really long list, prioritize your must dos. These are the things that would make you sad if you didn’t get to them.
Knowing what you hope to get out of the holidays in advance is important to making sure you focus on the things that matter.
Go Shopping – NOW
This is one of the most important things that I do to get ready for the holidays. My mantra throughout the year is that it’s never too early to shop.
And even though I wait to get big presents closer to the holidays (because my family changes their minds constantly), I love to pick up little things along the way.
Keep a running list of ideas and start to make gift giving decisions early.
If you know what everyone would like this holiday, go shopping now. This is always my biggest to do list item, so I like to get it crossed off my list as soon as possible.
There’s no shame in buying gifts in October. I usually pick up a few when we’re traveling over the summer.
Just make sure you keep a note on where you hide them. I hate discovering a stash of stocking stuffers days before Christmas when I went and just purchased a second set. True story.
Clear your To Do List
Do you have any pesky things that won’t disappear off your to do list?
For me, it’s a couple of DIY home projects and going through the photos from our recent vacation.
Get those things off your to do list now. There’s no sense in waiting to complete them during the holiday season because there won’t be time. And after that it’s the New Year. Who wants to be managing tasks that should have been completed in October during the New Year?
Take some time and finish what you’ve started. It’s a lot easier going into the holiday season when you have a clean slate for your personal to do list.
Stock up on Essentials
I recently transitioned to working more full time on my business. Which means most of my time every day is dedicated to my managing my design shop.
Everything seemed fine until one morning we woke up without toilet paper. And then the paper towels went.
It turns out I used to get our essentials when I was out and about with the kids. But since I started working more, there hasn’t been any time for errand running. Even if it includes household essentials.
Don’t let this happen to you. Especially during the holiday season. Get ready for the holidays by stocking up now on the essentials that your family will need during the next couple of months.
No one wants to have to run to Target to get toothpaste. And chances are you’ll run out a day or two before Christmas.
If you opened your calendar to December, what would you see? Are there important dates scribbled in or is the month blank?
December is a busy month. Even if you don’t know it yet.
Events love to creep onto the calendar when you’re not looking. And sometimes, if you forget to write down the key dates for the month, you can end up with a conflict and not even know it.
Once you have the dates of important events in December, write them down. Get them on your calendar so nothing interferes unexpectedly.
It will also be easier to schedule other events if you know which dates are already busy.
Plan Christmas Cards
One of the most important pieces to get ready for the holidays is getting our Christmas cards together. Since we can’t afford to get everyone we love a gift, I consider our Christmas cards the present from our family.
And there are a lot of steps to get them off the ground. It starts with having a photo session with a local photographer. After that I need to choose (or design) a photo card that I love.
Then the cards have to be ordered, envelopes addressed, stamps purchased and everything must be delivered to the post office in hopes that the cards arrive by Christmas. Or somewhere close.
If you have an equally as complicated Christmas card process, plan early. Schedule your photographer in advance. Choose your photo card design and get your stamps before Thanksgiving (to avoid long lines at the post office).
These days I try to get some of the tasks done in October. I can address envelopes and pick out the card we want to use. Once our photos are completed, I can get the cards printed and mailed.
Creating an efficient process for our Christmas cards has saved me a ton of time and stress. It’s also given me more time to focus on the things that I love to do around the holiday. (Yeah, believe it or not, addressing Christmas cards isn’t it!)
Get your Craft On Early
Early last November, I got out all of our extra craft supplies and we had an ornament making day. We sipped hot cocoa. Listened to Christmas music. And had a jolly good time.
I know. It was early November. Does it make a difference that I chose to start our crafting session in the afternoon so that it was a little darker.
I’d been wanting to do a family ornament making session for a few seasons, but I always planned it in December. Once December arrived, the tree would go up and we would get distracted with the holiday season. Like really distracted.
And, sadly, making ornaments as a family was an after thought.
If you love to craft and get creative around the holidays, plan early. Grab materials (there’s a reason craft stores bring out their Christmas loot in August) and organize the crafts you want to make.
Then schedule a date before your shop has it’s holiday rush. It’s okay if it’s in October. Choose a day that works for you.
Put a Pause on Volunteering
I am all about giving back and volunteering my time, but I’m not sure the holidays are the best time for me to do so. Between managing my shop and enjoying the time with family, I’ve learned to take a step back in my volunteering efforts this time of year. It’s hard to get ready for the holidays when I’ve overscheduled my time.
And this includes volunteering at school. As much as they may need my help, let some of other parents step up. It’s okay to be the Valentine’s Day party mom or spring field trip chaperone instead of the holiday celebration guru.
If you do decide that you want to participate, choose one or two opportunities. Not all of them. It’s a lot easier to run a one time holiday event at your children’s school than something that might be a recurring commitment. You know the hours and expectations ahead of time.
Another idea if you don’t have time to volunteer is to contribute to your favorite organizations instead. Monetary gifts go a long way this time of year and non-profits appreciate it.
Most importantly, focus your time and energy on your priorities this time of year. If volunteering is one of them, go for it. But if not, refocus on what’s truly important to you. Your brain will thank you.
Make Some Me Time
With all of the chaos that occurs during the holiday season, remember to make some time for self care. As much as it’s important to take care of your family and business, it’s just as critical to take care of you.
Schedule some me time and relax. Have a bubble bath. Go out for a gingerbread latte. Or just stroll through town window shopping and enjoying the holiday bustle.
Whatever activity it is, find some time that’s all about you. Soak in the joys of the season and don’t worry about your business and everything that you “have” to do.
Because, really, those things can wait. The most important moments of all are those all ready happening all around you.
The holiday season can be overwhelming and chaotic if you aren’t careful. This is especially true if you own a creative business.
Get ready for the holidays now so you can truly enjoy the season this year.
Start shopping early. Prepare your Christmas cards. Craft with your kids. And make sure you have all of the essentials ready for action.
Most importantly – be prepared. If you get ready for the holidays now, you can actually enjoy them (and your creative business) during the season ahead and avoid a lot of the chaos that is sure to come.