Tip #1: Maximize your time by getting ahead
The best way to handle the Christmas season is to maximize your time by getting ahead as much as you can. You don't want to fall behind on any regular duties during the busy season, so it's important to schedule your extra work around what will already be on your plate. If someone asks you for help with a project, let them know when you can dedicate yourself to it and make sure it's not going to conflict with anything else that week. If there are services or events coming up that might take up some of your regular time, try preparing for them as far ahead of time as possible—a few days should be enough time to prepare a newsletter if you have everything ready before it's due. This will allow you to focus more attention on handling holiday tasks without having them
Tip #2: Create a content calendar and make sure you know what's coming up.
As a church communication director, Christmas can be a stressful time. This is especially true if you're planning on sending out a lot of e-communications to your congregation. If you're trying to remember when everything is supposed to go out and it seems like there's no end in sight, I've got just the tip for you: create a content calendar!
In my experience, it helps to have the whole year planned out. I know what's coming up, which prepares me for what needs to be done before then (like editing photos or creating graphics), and it also helps me plan ahead for future months. For example, I know right now that I'll be out at the beginning of December (for personal reasons), so I'll have time to make sure that all of my content is ready and also make sure that someone else is available to help me distribute content in my absence.
Tip #3: Get everything for the Christmas season on the calendar as early as possible.
If you're anything like me, you've got a calendar that looks like a tangled web of yarn, with notes scattered in every direction. I have found that the best way to survive the Christmas season is to get everything for the Christmas season on the calendar as early as possible. Sure, it's easy to get caught up in all of the excitement and "wait 'til the last minute" mentality, but it will catch up to you sooner or later. This is especially true if your church falls into a "nativity scene contest," because these events need so much preparation! For example, if your church is part of a nativity scene contest, start preparing in August at the very latest. There are ways to handle this situation so that you still enjoy yourself. My personal favorite is to gather everyone together for an ice cream social and ask them to bring their family's nativity scene. This gives everyone a chance to talk about how they were able to keep their kids quiet and still while they set up their display. It also allows your kids get a chance to see everyone else's displays and think of ways they could improve yours while still being original. Holding this ice cream social in late August or early September will allow people enough time to get their nativity scene set up
Tip #4: Check in with volunteers to make sure they know their schedule.
It's important to check in with volunteers throughout the year, but this time of year presents a unique opportunity to connect one-to-one. A quick chat can give you valuable information about how people are feeling about their lives and their roles within the church community. That knowledge will help you plan more effective outreach strategies for next year.
You might be worried about overloading volunteers during their busiest season of the year, but it doesn't take long to pull people aside for five minutes for an informal exchange—and it's important to keep them happy and involved all year long. Also, if volunteers know they don't need to worry about finding time for you in December, they'll be more likely to make time for you before then
Tip 5: Cross out anything that doesn't have to be done and cancel any meetings that don't need to happen.
When it comes to scheduling tasks for yourself, try not to overcommit for each day and week. For example, if you have three events scheduled for Monday (two Christmas Eve services and a professional meeting), don't schedule anything else besides those three things until after 5pm.
Do your best not to overcommit yourself before you even start. You aren't going to be able to do everything, so don't promise you will. People will let you know what they need from you and when they need it by. Be ready to set them aside if something else comes up.