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Monday, November 12, 2012

countdown to holidays - tips to make it manageable

Christmas, Hanukkah and all the other wonderful winter holidays ... they're upon us!

You must know this since the stores are INUNDATED with holiday decor and gift items. I was saving this post for after Thanksgiving, maybe December 1st/ish, but from what I see online and in stores I suppose it's appropriate to post now. 

So holidays coming means we moms are BUSY, busier than normal. It's overwhelming sometimes purchasing a zillion gifts for our own kids, and then family members and friends and parties. Here are some tips to make it a little more manageable for you. 

Start early - Break it down into smaller tasks, keep working on it weekly until the holidays are here. Take one or two things you need to do for the holidays and put that on your weekly to-do list. For example, this weekend I'm going to buy my mother's gift, next weekend I'll buy my father's gift, the following week I'll work on getting the kids' stocking stuffers done. Break it down so it's not as overwhelmingly crazy as it will be if you wait until the week before Christmas!

Make an Amazon Wish List - When our second child came along and we got multiple toys and baby items that we'd already received with our first, I made an Amazon Wish List to keep track of things we did not yet have that our second would want or of those things my older one tells me he wants. It's SO easy to create one of these lists online. Then you can email the link to your family and friends when they ask you what your child wants. They can then order online or purchase in a store they know of. A GREAT way to keep track of the toys your children say they want all year long. You can even order yourself those things you want to give to your kids, then just erase from the list so you know it's covered. The creators of this totally were moms, I swear!

Shop online - Etsy and Amazon - these are a holiday shopping momma's best friends! They deliver right to your door! There are always great deals on there with free shipping. Etsy offers the nicest things you can't find in stores, so that's a plus also.

Write it down - Keep a list so you know who you bought for, what you still need to get, etc. Keep this list with you in your purse so when you see something in a store you can check the list to see if it's needed.

Adjust the cards process - Skip the cards, or do a free e-card online. Or if you want to mail cards then at least write the addresses and stamp them ahead of time, and use printed address labels if possible.

Wrap as you go - Once you've collected all gifts for a particular person, wrap them up, call it good.Don't wait until Christmas Eve to wrap all gifts for all people on your list at once, it's too confusing! Using gift bags saves more time than wrapping paper does also, so go that route for less of a hassle.

Sticker labels - Use sticker labels for gifts. SO much easier than taping them on.

Organize your supplies - Keep all wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, labels, ribbon, scissors, and tape all together in a neat and tidy plastic bin or something that works for your home so that all holiday supplies are already together, every year, easy to pull out and use.

Start cutting back - Keep the yankee swap parties and gift buying to a minimum- choose one to attend. Do you really need to swap gifts with your great aunt or can you just bake some cookies or write her a nice card instead this year? Do you really need to have your child give gifts to every single teacher or friend in their pre-school, or can you pick a few teachers and maybe no friends to make it easier, and give nice cards instead. Thought that counts, remember that, Mommas!

Just let it go - Don't do it all. You don't HAVE to visit Santa at the mall, get Sears portraits done in a red dress, set up a Nativity scene, be part of the Christmas church pageant, donate to here there and everywhere, attend every single holiday party, give gifts to every person you know, ETC. Some of it you can let go. Pick and choose what's most important to your family and focus on that.

Give pictures - People loooove pictures as gifts. lets you create photo books, mugs, magnets, ornaments, posters, etc. all for low prices, often with deals and discounts. GREAT gifts!

Get crafty! - Pinterest has TONS of awesome holiday gift giving ideas that are cheap, easy and yet so adorable your loved ones will appreciate them more than a store-bought gift. Make things like homemade jam or cookie jars, or someone on the Mommy Stories mentioned making homemade tomato sauce for pasta and putting that in a jar as a gift.

Schedule in relaxation - December flies by, we all know this to be true. Yet it's a magical time of year, especially for the kiddos we live with. So make sure you schedule in some down time with your family. Sleep in late. Bake cookies with the kids. Plan for Christmas Eve to be a low-key day instead of doing last minute gift wrapping or purchasing.

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