Christmas is a time for harmony but for many families, the planning of the perfect Christmas is a huge stress which makes it difficult to enjoy the festivities. Trying to combine a working week with normal family life can sometimes be difficult but add to that buying presents, decorating the house for Christmas and preparing a luxury Christmas dinner can spoil the harmony and create a tense atmosphere under the Christmas tree!

There is a lot within the world of professional Project Management that we can learn from when it comes to the planning of Christmas. Karl Bryanton, Project Manager at Swedish company DataPartner AB, explains how a few simple steps from professional Project Management can help your Christmas be as harmonious as it should be.

1. Plan and coordinate tasks
Gather the family in advance to discuss all wishes including food to Xmas decorations and create a to-do list. Break down the list into different categories (eg. Food) and divide up the family in working groups (depending on the size of your family of course!) providing them with some tasks. Decide a Project Manager for each mini-group who shall be following up on the steps necessary.

2. Involve, trust and delegate tasks to the children
Make sure that everyone gets to be a part of it. Especially for younger children, it is important that they feel a part of what is going on which adds to the annual Christmas excitement. For children to even take part in the simplest of tasks makes them feel involved and will also mean that they appreciate the festivities even more. Parents should not feel like they must do everything themselves. Provide the children with the feeling that you trust them even with some more difficult tasks! By simply keeping an eye on every family member’s progress means that there will now be time to jump in and help them out if necessary. It could well be a good idea to pair up an adult with a child in your groups.

3. Christmas time – a time to evaluate past tasks/roles
When we celebrate Christmas, we have a tendency to revert to established traditions. Grandma is responsible for food and Dad usually sorts the Christmas lights while the kids watch TV. But sometimes it can be about time that we get rid of the old routines. It can be exciting to exchange tasks with each other and try something new. Ask which Christmas related tasks everyone is interested in. Who knows…maybe even your oldest son is interested in being in charge of the kitchen? And it is still necessary for Granddad to be solely responsible for retrieving the Xmas tree?

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Book regular family meetings where everybody can report their progress. Then everyone can also start screaming for help if necessary! Every project will end up being changed to a certain degree and you should be ready to completely reverse your plans sometimes. To communicate on a regular basis will help to finely adjust tasks and find solutions to problems as a group. Set realistic deadlines: When does food need to be bought? When shall be buy the Christmas tree? But of course, there are also some things that you shouldn’t communicate with the younger family members: The fact that the person who has come to visit in the red outfit is actually a family member and not a special arrival from the North Pole!

5. Do not underestimate the importance of appreciation – encouragement is important!
Encouragement is an important part for a Project Manager to keep his/her group members motivated right to the very end. To succeed with a task without receiving an ounce of appreciation can be very frustrating. This can often be the case in many families where it is taken for granted that Mum will be in charge of all the food, for example. These days, we are very quick to provide encouragement by clicking on the “Like” button on Facebook but why not show that appreciation face to face? Make sure to give praise when someone has done something good and make sure to provide encouragement when necessary. If your family feels involved and motivated, you can be sure that this year’s Christmas will be a huge success.

If you have a particular project in the pipeline that DataPartner can help you with then don’t hesitate to contact us