Just one more seam, and I’ll be finished. What? You’re hungry? Oh bother. Five more minutes.
Of course that is when everything falls apart and I have to stop midstream, shift my attention, and maybe two hours later I get back to that last seam, which now takes 30 minutes to finish. Halfway through December, and still so many gifts to make, buy, wrap or a combination of all the above.
During the majority of my life, I spent Christmas Eve wrapping presents until only a few hours before morning burst forth and excited little girl voices woke me from much too little sleep. Sometimes I alternated between wrapping baking, sewing… Well you get the idea. In spite of all the time management classes over the years, I seem to have a problem still with doing a great job of getting all the things on my list completed. Franklin Covey and all the other gurus of making the most of time leave me wondering whether I’m a lost cause.
Nevertheless, I learned a few tricks along the way. Time management means making the most of your time. Here are a few ideas to trigger your own creativity to stretch your time so you can enjoy Christmas and not stress over it.
Creative Gift Wrapping
Consider non-traditional wrapping options. Bags have become popular and save lots of time. For smaller gifts, consider using small lunch bags. If you have children let them decorate the bags. Place items in a cookie tin or other decorative container and top with a ribbon and bow. The recipients can enjoy the “wrapping” long after Christmas ends. Use baskets or other containers sealed with shrink paper. Think outside the box—incidentally, decorated gift boxes work as well as bags, but still create an air of anticipation with a little tape and maybe some ribbon.
Crock Pot Soup
Pretty much anything you cook on the stove or in the oven can go in a crock-pot. Generally, 4 hours on low equals about an hour and cooking all day is like having a roast in the oven for a couple of hours. Take a few minutes in the morning to drop the ingredients in, then set it on low and forget about it.
My favorite soup uses a pound of hamburger (browned), one package of frozen mixed veggies, a bottle of V8 juice and any seasonings you want to add. I personally prefer no salt seasoning, but sometimes I’ll add some cumin or a little chili powder to spice it up. Let the soup cook on low for half the day. For longer cooking times, you may need to add a little water.
I’m not sure who invented the liners for this wonderful appliance, but they save lots of time when cleaning up afterwards.
Easy Meal Ideas
Remember the “pigs in a blanket” your mom made? They still taste just as yummy and take very little prep or cooking time. Kids can help. Try using reduced fat crescent rolls with turkey wieners for a healthier version. Serve with fruit or raw veggies and don’t forget the mustard.
We consumed a fair amount of red beans (pinto for some people) growing up, and I still love them served with cornbread and green onions. Although they take a couple of hours to cook, the prep time isn’t bad. Change up leftovers for another meal. Mashed and refried, they make great burritos. Add some smoked sausage, chili powder and other spices, diced or rotel tomatoes, then serve over rice. Throw them in a soup. Or blend them up with a pepper or two and grab a bag of corn chips.
How do you save time during this season? Share your ideas.