Give yourself the gift of time this holiday season with our simple shortcuts.
Create a Budget and a Gift List Before You Shop
Do away with aimless shopping expeditions by drawing up budget and gift lists. Organize lists by category (clothing, electronics, toys) so you'll have to make only one quick trip to each store.
Make Coat Space in Advance
Rather than spend time finding a place for guests' coats during your holiday party, make room well before guests arrive. Move your coats from the hall closet to a less central one so that your guests will have a place to hang theirs. Be sure to have ample hangers, plus a basket for gloves and hats.
Save time at the airport by lightening your gift load during the holiday season. Purchase gift cards rather than bulky presents for friends and family members. If you must bring gift-wrapped items, package them in such a way that airport security will be able to examine the contents; a box in which the top and bottom are wrapped separately, with a card and the ribbon tucked inside for attaching later, is one option.
Strategize Gift Wrapping
Avoid a gift-wrapping time crunch and start wrapping presents earlier this year. Add ribbons, bows, and tags later (label gifts with sticky notes so that you don't forget who gets what).
Related: 22 Gift-Wrapping Ideas for Turning Any Gift Into Something Spectacular
Store Christmas Lights Neatly
Don't spend another minute sorting through tangled webs of holiday decorations. After each holiday season, keep lights organized by winding each strand around a piece of cardboard cut to fit in a plastic bin (our pieces were 20 by 14 inches). Use scissors to cut a one-inch slit at the top of one long side and the bottom of the other long side of the cardboard. Secure one end of the lights in a slit, wind lights around, and secure the other end in the other slit. Store stacked light between layers of bubble wrap in bins.
Install a Gift-Wrapping Station
Put an end to frantically searching for ribbons or tape around the house and save time by installing a one-stop gift-wrapping station on a pegboard. From tissue paper to scissors, you'll have everything you need for a quick and easy wrap.
Give the Same Gift to Everyone
Eliminate the long hours you normally put in toward looking for several great gifts by getting or making everyone the same gift instead. Try giving gifts like engraved glassware, label-making machines, or homemade fudge. If you can't think of one gift to suit all of your family and friends, break your list up into groups and give one type of gift to women, one type to men, and something different for all of the children.
Buy Baking Staples
Cut back on making multiple last-minute grocery trips by stocking up on baking ingredients early. Be sure you have the basics you'll need most often: butter, flour, granulated and brown sugars, baking powder and soda, yeast, and vanilla extract.
Label Serving Dishes
Save time on the day of your party by setting out an assortment of pieces to determine which go best with the food being served as well as with the rest of your table setting. Place a slip of paper on each, noting its assigned role, and add the proper utensils. The labels will assist any of your helpers in carrying out the plans, so you can focus on other things.
Set Up Wish Lists
You'll likely hear the words "What do you want for Christmas?" multiple times this season. Instead of sending loved ones individual links to desired items, create an easy wish list at your favorite retail website(s), such as amazon.com. The wish lists work like wedding registries; you can "register" for desired items, and then tell family members where you have registered.
More from Martha Stewart:
19 Tips for Perfect Laundry Every Time
20 Super-Efficient, Super-Effective Ways to Clean All the Things
47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen
65 Quick and Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas from Martha Stewart
While you're getting organized, make room in your closet for the spoils of the season.