We are less than a month away from getting into the eye of the storm that is Christmas and the New Year.
I don’t know about you, but I usually get knotted with stress as the Holidays approach.
There never seems to be enough time to adequately prepare for those three weeks of festivities – hosting, shopping, cooking, travelling, partying, being around family and spending time with my beau and myself.
I also get anxious because I feel that we’re spending too much money. I panic that we’ll not have enough to last us through the 100 days and nights of the desert called January.
What’s worse, the dawn of the New Year breaks and I’m more wrung out than rejuvenated. I never feel ready to return to work.
I realise now that the anxiety and stress come because I didn’t adequately plan for the Holidays.
Well this year, I’ll do better because I know better. Preplanning will have me start the year on a fresh slate.
As we prepare for avalanche of excess that’s coming in the weeks ahead, make sure to assess your festivities to-do list against our suggested planning checklists.
Prepare yourself emotionally
Take stock of your relationships – romantic, friendship, family, professional, business and spiritual.
Begin to think about how you will end any toxic relationships with friends, lovers, colleagues, acquaintances, nanny and business partners.
Take note that your nanny may be off and you need a plan on either getting a stop-gap measure or stepping in: schedule for downtime so you can relax or recharge alone.
Remember to reconnect daily with your spiritual and religious anchors: schedule to visit a children’s home with your family so you can give back.
Assemble what you would be offering. Take stock of your 2019 goals against your achievements; take stock with yourself, your mentors and accountability partners. Begin to plan for what you want in 2020.
Your health tick-offs
Check that you have enough prescription medication to last you through the period.
Stock up your medicine cabinet at home with painkillers, Paracetemol, Elastoplasts and bandages. Stock up your birth control pills and condoms.
Stock up on any special dietary requirements for yourself, your partner or your kids.
Have a plan to detox during the excess bingeing of the holidays. Visit a dentist, optician and the hospital for a general health check-up. Begin to think about your health and wellness goals for 2020.
You need to look good
Research on a low maintenance hair style hair for the holidays. Schedule an appointment with the hairdresser.
Buy now the hair-styling accessories you will need. Stock up on makeup necessities – foundation, eyebrow pencil, lipstick, lip balm and anything else that is your essential.
Schedule for a wax, eyebrow tweeze, manicure, pedicure and facial treatment before the beauticians get busy.
Party after party plan
Diarise all events in your calendar. Also confirm that your date/plus one has diarised the event in their calendar too.
Check that your wardrobe has the clothes, shoes and accessories you need for the event. If not, consider hiring them or shopping for what you need now.
If you are attending a party of any kind, shop now for the gift. Have it wrapped and set aside, ready for the D-day
Plan for blissful travel
Ensure that your passport, travel permits and yellow fever certificate are up to date.
Keep copies and originals of your passport, ID and other travel documents in an easy-to-find travel folder.
Print tickets and keep copies in your travel folder, plus scans on your Cloud.
Check that you have suitcases, travel bags and carry-on luggage for travel. If not, shop for what you need now.
If you will travel by road, schedule to take your car for a full service before mid December.
Check that you have spare tyres, ample insurance, warning triangles, towing ropes, jump-start cables and a well-stocked first aid kit.
Have a day-by-day itinerary of activities at your travel destination. Check that you have what you need for those activities.
Schedule time for a step-by-step digital declutter. Sort through your email inboxes, SMSs and WhatsApp chats – delete old messages and emails; unsubscribe from websites whose emails you never open and exit WhatsApp groups as you feel.
Sort through the drives on your laptop/computer to reorganise document folders: either delete old content or archive to a Cloud.
Begin to think about how you will efficiently manage your digital data in 2020.
Where is the money?
“Ideally, the best time to plan for festive spending is consistently and over a period, before the holiday begins, rather than at the last minute. If you hadn’t planned for your holiday funds over time, think about what’s realistic for you and how you can still enjoy the season without having to dip into your emergency savings account.
Be creative and do something different based on your budget. Even if your salary hit your account earlier than usual, remember that the money is not just for festivities enjoyment but also for other obligations that’ll be waiting for you after Christmas and New Year.
Settle essential bills now or set money aside so that you don’t come from a week of pleasure to a year of stress.
Essential bills include food, rent, utilities, insurance, loan repayments, transport and school fees.
Secondly, put your holiday budget down on paper bearing in mind that you don’t have a blank cheque.
You don’t want to have to take a bad loan because you’ve run out of cash. Have a clear itinerary on what you’ll do and an estimate how much it’ll cost.
Adjust your budget if there are more expenses than available money.”
Felista Wangari runs a personal finance community on Facebook called the 52-week Savings Challenge Kenya
“I’m the owner of my business but I’m also a mother. Being a mother during the holidays means you have to carve time out to spend with the kids at home.
This means leaving home slightly late in the morning and getting back earlier than usual.
I’ve trained someone who can carry out some of my responsibilities whenever I’m away or when I report late.
It has been a tough year for business owners around the country. I had a staff of 16, now we’re only three.
We usually have team building activities but we couldn’t afford that for our staff this year. We also couldn’t afford an end of year party.
So instead, I’ll give them Christmas bonuses. I’ve been saving for their bonuses for four months now, so that’s covered.
We’ll close for the holidays on December 23, 2019 and resume for the New Year on January 6, 2020.
We’ll make this announcement through our social media platforms from mid-December.”
Christine Atieno-Kihara, 29, is proprietor of Afro Bertine Handbags
Project your career and professional growth
“The best investment you can make to succeed in your career growth is coaching. Career coaching helps you measure and articulate your competencies and maps out the next levels of possible growth.
If you’re in a company you like and are valued there, ask for a negotiation of your salary and terms.
Take this opportunity to redesign your roles too. The golden rule of negotiation is to ask for three to five things. You’ll get at least one.
An easier relationship makes negotiations smoother. Competency gets you halfway through your career journey – ensure your daily activities have been building up to your performance indices.
Also have the eye of someone in high-level management or board who can speak and open doors for you.
A combination of competency and the right relationships is a double-edged sword.
If you’re looking to move, align your next career move with the needs of the next phase of your life. Are you looking for more authority, or less hierarchy and more teamwork?
Do you seek an organisation with family-friendly work hours, culture and maternity package? Are you keen on the emerging edge of your industry?
Reach out to a recruiter to help you identify openings and to realign your CV.
Investigate the organisation interviewing you. In this era of mergers, acquisitions and receivership, you don’t want to find yourself jobless four months after landing your dream job.”
Ivy Luta is a certified leadership transformational coach for careers and businesses
Planning for your home
“I plan for each holiday while the children are still in school. We agree on guests to invite and places to visit before schools close so they have a good idea of what their holidays will look like.
The important thing for me is to plan in advance and involve the kids so we can moderate our spending.
I do bulk house shopping in October and the kids’ back-to-school shopping in November. Shopping during the festive season is chaotic.
I avoid malls and supermarket chains because I’ll end up buying beautiful things I’d not budgeted for.
End of year is also time to declutter the entire house. Once the kids are home, we go through their wardrobes and toys and set aside whatever we’ll donate.
I discuss with my house help about breaking for the holidays. That way she can book her tickets in time and I can arrange for her replacement.
During the festive season, I only travel upcountry. I don’t travel for leisure; I know from personal experience that service during the festive season is mediocre because of the large number of guests.”
Nikkie Nkirote, 33, is a of two
Meet the relatives’ tour
“Christmas is always best spent with family and friends. Each family in our clan has an opportunity to host every year, and the cycle goes round.
It might be the five or sixth year before your turn for hosting. We shop as a group to get low prices.
For gift giving, I engage my kids to do crafts by creating handmade gifts that are personalised for every family member, this saves a lot on buying holiday cards and gifts.
And because they put their own special touch on the gifts, they’ll be more memorable.
My husband and I pay our childrens’ school fees before the festivities kick in, before the temptations of eating up all the money comes in.
I also check for bargains with supermarkets and wholesale shops to ensure that I get the best deals for house utilities.
Some of my friends and family travel upcountry for their festivities, I ask them to buy me fresh and affordable groceries from there.”