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Use Project Management to Make the Most of Your Holiday Resources
By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, Founder, Cheetah Learning

When I think back to some of my favorite holidays with my family, it’s never about the gifts that were given or received. It’s about the experience of being together and capturing some Kodak moments. So, instead of getting caught up in the stress of a holiday budget, how about if you think of your holiday as a celebration that requires two things: your imagination and your Project Management skills.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Create a Project Holiday board that can go in your kitchen or in your family room.
  • Gather your family and create your plan for the holiday together.
  • Brainstorm ideas of all the things you can do as a family to make this holiday unique and create an experience.
  • Agree upon the key ideas to make this holiday come to life.
  • Set a budget.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities.
  • Set deadlines.
  • Agree upon a couple of milestone meetings to see how everyone is doing.
  • Enjoy!

And just in case you need a few ideas to get you going, here are a few of mine.

Ten ways to make your holiday one to remember.

  1. Get your family on board. Involve your family in the holiday planning, and share with them your goal to create a different kind of holiday. If you involve them in the planning, not only will you have elves at your disposal, you’ll have a team that is working toward a goal that they were part of developing.
  2. The power of potluck and food prep. If your family gathers for a large dinner, consider making it a potluck and ask everyone to bring their favorite dish. If dinner usually falls on one person’s shoulders, turn the meal into an event itself, where everyone is cooking together and has a role in prepping, preparing and cleaning up after the dinner.

  3. Give the gift of your time. During the time that you would normally be opening gifts, give the gift of your time. Go as a family or group of friends and work together at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter for a few hours.

  4. Pick a charity. You can choose a charity and make a donation as a family to that charity or ask everyone in the family to choose a charity and make a donation in whatever amount each person can afford. Then, everyone can tell a story about that charity and why he or she chose it.

  5. Have an open mike. If you have a family of storytellers, ask each person to write a holiday story, and have a family reading over hot cocoa or hot apple cider.

  6. Create a gift-giving game. In the Northeast, we like to do a Yankee Swap. Each person brings one gift that can be for either gender, and there is an agreed upon amount that you’re permitted to spend. The gifts are in the center of the room and there is a drawing to determine who goes first. The first person gets to choose a gift. The next person can choose a gift or “steal” the gift that the first person chose. After a gift has been “stolen” three times, then it is safe. This game usually gets a lot of laughs and focuses the fun on the game itself instead of the gifts. You can also make up your own rules, and do your own variation on this, which makes it even more fun.

  7. Create family gift certificates. The best gift certificates are the ones that are created by the people who know us best. A gift certificate for one month of cleaning the kitty litter box or a coupon for no hassles about homework. These can be really funny and last for a few months after the holiday is over.

  8. Design a family holiday card. Choose one of your favorite photos of the year and make that your holiday eCard. No mailing or stamps needed. Just a photo that captures a great moment of the year.

  9. Get some exercise in. Depending on where you are in the world and what the climate is, plan an outdoor activity that everyone can enjoy. Could be as simple as a walk together or even a family 5K run if you have athletes in your clan.

  10. Get a jump on your New Year’s resolutions. Have everyone in the family state a goal that they want to accomplish in ’09. There’s nothing like saying it out loud and having a lot of people to be accountable to. It’s a powerful motivator.

About the Know How Network and Cheetah Learning

The Know How Network is a monthly column written by Michelle LaBrosse, the founder and Chief Cheetah of Cheetah Learning. Distributed to hundreds of newsletters and media outlets around the world, the Know How Network brings the promise, purpose and passion of Project Management to people everywhere. Visit www.cheetahlearning.com to learn more about Cheetah PM, the fastest way to learn about Project Management and get your PMP. You can also get your career in gear with CheetahWare, free Project Management tools from Cheetah Learning.

About the Author

Michelle LaBrosse is the founder and Chief Cheetah of Cheetah Learning. An international expert on accelerated learning and Project Management, she has grown Cheetah Learning into the market leader for Project Management training and professional development. In 2006, The Project Management Institute, www.pmi.org, selected Michelle as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World, and only one of two women selected from the training and education industry. Michelle is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner & President Management program for entrepreneurs, and is the author of Cheetah Project Management and Cheetah Negotiations. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company and has 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide.

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