How to Pack for Your Holiday Away

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's home


Every year, as part of my holiday preparation I am faced with the daunting task of packing everything ready for travel. It can be quite the challenge to get all the gifts, snow gear, and clothes home for family time. The added complexity being that we usually fly. Now I’m rarely scared of a logistical challenge, rather I tend to thrive. So humble of me, right?

Why do I do this to myself? Easy. It’s the only way to get to my loved ones. I come from a super huge blended family that bops around to multiple do’s to ensure we get to see everyone. In my adult years I alternate years spending the holiday with my out of town in-laws or travel back to Saskatchewan to see my crazy, aforementioned brood. Some are surprised when I tell them I’ve never spent the holiday here in Calgary. It may be nice to make traditions of my own someday, but why miss out on all the family fun and craziness of having over twenty people under the same roof? No thanks, Scrooge.

Each year, based on where I am headed in North America, I make my plan to get all the goods to where we’re going before Santa comes. Below are a few tips that I have accumulated over the years.

Make a plan a month before your departure date

It’s busy. I get it. The thing is we all get the same hours in the day. I recommend starting early. If you leave December 20th, start your preparation in November. By the time you make your list, get the gifts, acquire any other travel requirements (like foreign currency), wrap, maybe ship some, the time will melt away faster than butter on that Christmas turkey.

Only put small, flyable items on your wish list

Gift exchanges are popular in most families and help to keep the budget and over-the-top consumer hysteria in check. I do my part by only putting small things on my wish list. When I’m buying for someone else, I make sure to make a plan for how I will get that to them. Here’s another hot tip: if you are playing one of those intense, trade mayhem exchange games, go for the small, non liquid gifts for no nonsense travel home.

Ship ahead of time

For all the little’s in my life I tend to go HAM. I don’t want to restrain myself so I rarely do. But when I pile it all up it’s a lot. To save time for their parents I wrap each one so that all they have to do is pop the box, fluff the beautiful bow, and place under the tree. I bundle like cities together and place the wrapped gift in boxes to be shipped. I make sure to hide any Santa presents in another layer should one of the little ones peek into the big box. I target hitting Canada Post by December 1st to ensure stress free shipping and that I leave the recipient enough time to pick it up.

Send online shipping to a destination "elf"

Should the ideal gift not be conducive to flying or packing, most online stores allow you to send the package to your destination. Be sure to get a gift elf lined up at the destination so that the store branded box does not give the gift inside away. If you’re really lucky, perhaps your elf will tuck the gift away or wrap it so that come Christmas, your gift is still a surprise hit.

Consider alternative gifts

Should a traditional, purchased gift not be your thing, consider buying something off of Santa’s usual list. Often these types of gifts are super small and can be easily transported to and fro. Many of these gifts don't even need wrapping. This world takes all types and there is surely someone on your list who appreciates doing things a bit differently.

Keep secret gifts a secret

If you’re like me who loves to watch the surprise unfold right in front of you, be sure to keep your loot hidden until you can wrap it. That may mean sending the gift to your workplace or a friend so that you’re loved one does not get a sneak peek. You can take things up a notch by placing small sized gifts in huge boxes. Keeps them guessing. If your gift is hella big, may I suggest wrapping a picture of the big thing so the box is small sized. Then when they open that tiny box and see that it’s actually super huge, run and grab that big gift from its hiding place. Tah dah!

When it comes to clothing, pack light

Those pesky baggage fees? I’m not a fan. To keep that minimized I will ensure that I only pay to check one bag between my partner and me. That means I need to be ultra strategic in what I pack for all those dinners, playing outside in the snow, and Christmas morning. I wear most things two, three, maybe four times in different combinations. I skip packing most liquid toiletries and capitalize on the kindness of our host family’s bathroom supplies. This is likely the only time that I ever-so-slightly prioritize the gifting joy of others ahead of my personal style.

Wherever you’re headed this holiday, be sure to take a minute and look around the room. Cherish the time you get with your people and be sure to enjoy the eggnog, hot chocolate, or whatever your holiday sipper is.