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Cruise through holidays with a list of baby steps

Do you dread the holidays? Are you so wrapped up in creating the "picture perfect" Christmas that you have lost your joy? How would you like to cruise through the holidays starting Dec. 1? Not enough time to get everything done before our imaginary departure? Let me help you relieve this self-inflicted stress.

Where does this stress come from? Purchasing gifts, making gifts, cooking, cleaning, house guests, parties, traveling, wrapping presents, greeting cards, mailing packages, decorating, shopping or family squabbles? No. It comes from our attitudes. With our perfectionism, we feel we don't have enough time to do it right, so we procrastinate, then we overspend and wear ourselves out, all because we did not take the time to plan and do a little each day. No wonder you aren't having fun anymore.

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Is your bed calling your name? Do you feel like pulling the covers over your head until January? Hold on a second. Now get some paper — an old spiral notebook with some pages left will do nicely — and your calendar. By the time you finish this article, your cruise will have begun, and stress will have missed the boat.

Let's build your Holiday Control Journal. Keep this with you at all times; it will think for you. A few minutes planning your baby steps now can save you money, frustration and time in December.

At the top of each page write these headings:

Menus/Recipes, and shopping list on opposite page.

Baking plans/Recipes, and shopping list on opposite page.

Gift list to buy: Who, what and price. Think clutter-free gifts.

Gifts to make: Who, what, and make a shopping list. Keep it simple.

Travel preparations: Car repair, plane tickets, packing list.

Decorations: What's needed, rooms to decorate.

Packages to ship.

Catalog orders.

Home preparation (clean and declutter), whether traveling or not.

Dates to remember (put these on your calendar).

We are all good at making lists; our problem is that our lists overwhelm us, because we don't know how to break them into easy-to-use baby steps. You can do anything for 15 minutes. Even get ready for the holidays. Your Holiday Control Journal doesn't have to be perfect. It is your ticket to enjoying the process.

CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) is going to keep you from enjoying the process. We are going to focus on our homes right now. Don't skip this part. It is the foundation to being able to get the rest done. Put on a relaxing holiday CD and light a scented candle.

Let's get started. Grab a timer — the most important part of Crisis Cleaning 101. We can do anything for 15 minutes, and that is how this works: After you get dressed to your lace-up shoes, start in your kitchen. When the timer goes off, move to the living room, then to the bathroom. After three 15-minute sessions it is time to sit down and rest for 15 minutes. You cannot let your perfectionism take over. You have to rest, or you will crash and burn. Then you can do three more 15 minute sessions of crisis cleaning. Remember this is surface cleaning and not the time to dig deeply or clean out a closet. For more details on keeping your home looking nice, go to my Web site: or my book "Sink Reflections." We teach you to FLY (Finally Love Yourself) by using baby step routines.

Are you ready to cruise through the holidays? We can help you with our Holiday Control Journal that you can download for free or follow these directions and build one for yourself:

For more help getting rid of your CHAOS; check out: or "Sink Reflections" published by Bantam and "Body Clutter" published by Fireside. Copyright 2007 Marla Cilley. Used by permission in this publication.