When was the last holiday season you spent chilled and calm, with all family gatherings, wardrobe choices, presents, meals, and your business totally under control? Never? Nope, me neither!
I can’t help with family wrangling or what to wear (if you have any tips, please share in the comments below!) but here is a plan to make sure you post to Instagram throughout the holidays without breaking a sweat. Because as much as you love Instagram, being present with your loved ones or simply chilling on your own is the best gift you could give both yourself and them.
So let’s get the heavy lifting done.
PLANNING IS KEY
1. First of all, figure out your busy holiday zone.
What are the dates when you’ll have less time: family staying, being out of town, or late client obligations? Is there anything that happened last year or the year before that threw you off balance? Should you add extra wriggle room to cope with events like that? Write them on a calendar, diary or sheet of paper.
2. Next, choose if you’re going to take a social media break for any of this time.
Some people choose to do this so that they are well rested for the start of the new year. If you are, then it works best to flag your break ahead of time so there are no surprises for your followers.
3. Which days do you have messages you specifically want to post?
These could be posting seasonal greetings for Christmas, Hanukkah or the new year, dates when your business is closed or setting up you and your clients at the start of 2017. Put these on your calendar.
4. Plan your photos to cover your busy holiday zone.
If you have 10 days to cover and intend to post twice a day, you need at least 20 photos. Bearing in mind your messages from Step 3, map out your content. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are twelve to get you started. You want to shoot as many as possible of those ahead of time - that is, now or this week.
- A table setting or tablescape with a selection from: your best china, a bowl of seasonal fruit, napkins, ribbons or twine to style your napkins, flatware, table runner, candles, and vases / florals / pots of herbs.
- Wrapping presents: Rolls of ridiculously beautiful paper, ribbon, gift tags, glitter, kraft paper + twine … whatever you’re wrapping around your gifts this year, get it out and have a play. There could even be a sneak peek of your gifts.
- Writing thank-you notes: your choice of note cards, note paper, deckle-edged envelopes, and a favourite pen. This is a good choice for the last week of the year when our thoughts often turn from celebration to reflection.
- Nature on your table: Beautifully coloured leaves, ivy, nuts, winter twigs, and poinsettia if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and perhaps eucalyptus leaves, shells, and foraged pebbles in the south.
- Your kitchen and its contents: So often these are the things that make the holidays feel like the holidays. You can use this to convey the atmosphere of your home: gingerbread biscuits, mince pies, satsumas, dried orange slices, mulled wine, panettone, iced fruit cake … you get the idea.
- Seasonal clothing: Cosy woollen scarves for crisp winter walks or a bathing suit slung over a deckchair - whatever it is in your part of the world, do share!
- Decorations: Fairy lights, candles, green foliage, mistletoe, vintage baubles, a wreath on your front door (or one in your neighbourhood) and other greenery. How do you decorate your home? Your office?
- New Year celebrations: What are you going to post on the last day of this year and January 1, 2017? Sparklers and champagne? A new diary? Have you chosen a guiding word for 2017 that describes the feeling and experiences you want to have throughout the year? Share that in your own handwriting or by using a text app over an out of focus photo in seasonal colours.
- Drinks: Hot, chilled, alcoholic or a combination of all, take your pick of hot chocolate with marshmallows, hot buttered rum, stylish cocktails stirred with a stick of cinnamon, or anything with pomegranate or cranberry.
- Traditions: What are the traditions in your home? They could include: buying a tree, lighting candles, putting antlers on your dog (can’t believe I just googled ‘dogs in antlers’ images), long winter walks, making a gingerbread house, or writing holiday cards + displaying them around your fireplace.
- Style up your work: Use pine cones, berries, decorations or whatever is to hand to style up your services and products for the run-up to the holidays.
- Humor: This might not be for everyone, but if your style or company brand is light-hearted, then think about how this could apply to your holidays. Ugly Christmas jumper? Comedy seasonal socks? Or Elf on the Shelf moments if you have children.
5. Put a time in your planner to shoot these photos.
List out anything you need to buy or gather and any time you need to plan or prepare. Allow space for text if needed. Don’t forget that this is the ideal time for candlelight or fairy lights (and yes, that may mean some untangling).
SHOOT, EDIT, SCHEDULE
6. Shoot your photos.
Edit them and upload to a scheduler like HootSuite or Later, along with captions and up to your allocated 30 hashtags. It may sound like overkill doing this in November, but your future holiday self will thank you, I promise, as you tuck into another warming eggnog or eye up the comfy chair and blanket for a snooze.
7. You’re done!
That was it! Of course, you may be a high achiever who adds more live photos into your feed and puts together daily atmospheric footage for Instagram Stories, which is just great. Your goal here with the preparation is to take the pressure off yourself and be clear with what messages need to go out and when so that you can be present with your loved ones. Have a wonderful holiday break!