Moms don’t enjoy, they give joy! Anyone else feel like they’re going to lose their mind mid-holiday season? And what’s with Christmas break being so long? I need my kids to go to school until Christmas Eve so I can actually get things done.
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Well, this year, I’ve decided that I am going to be less stressed, more prepared, and will do my best to cherish the moments. Easier said than done, but here are 10 tips for a stress-free (that’s impossible; a less-stressful) holiday season.
1. Map out your schedule
- Some things will end up changing, but plan out your holiday schedule as much as possible. Write down all of your must-attend events and see where you have spaces.
- Plan out your family activities. Ask your kids what their most important activities are (sledding, movie night, see the Nutcracker, etc.) and put them on the calendar where you can. Don’t overdo it!
- Lastly, add in the “to do” items. Plan a morning of shopping, an afternoon of errands, and an evening of wrapping gifts, etc. Give yourself ample time here; don’t be stingy, because it always takes longer than you expect. (Holiday traffic/crowds are the worst.) Sometimes it’s good to tag-team with your spouse. One takes the kids to a movie while the other shops for gifts…you get the idea. You’ll be together for the most important activities, so these “fluff” ones you can afford to miss.
- Oh and maybe the most important step….plan your “must-do” items while your kids are still in school. It is no fun when you have an errand list a mile long and your kids are home on winter break. Try to schedule that time for the fun stuff. On my calendar, all of my “to-do’s” have to be done by December 21st.
2. Choose Outfits
- Write a list of all of your important events and decide what clothing you and your family will need. Figure out which events can have repeating outfits too. If you see different people, just wear the same thing!
- And if you’re super OCD like me, pick a color scheme for the entire season so you can all coordinate. I love to have my family in coordinating outfits and the easiest place to start is to have a color scheme. Last year, most of our outfits were gray, cream, and black (with a pop of red). It made choosing outfits and dressing the kids so much easier! I’ve seen a lot of navy in stores recently so maybe you’ll choose navy and burgundy scheme or camel and forest green. Whatever it is, pick a couple of colors and stick to it. It will make shopping (in your closet or the stores) so much easier when everyone can easily mix and match.
3. Be picky about gifts – don’t just buy to buy
- Limit gifts to children if you can. In our family, the kids get 3 wrapped presents (at our house anyway….they get lots more by the end of the day from grandparents, cousins, etc.) One present from parents, one from their sibling, and one from Santa. We’ve told them that Jesus got three gifts and so do they. Because they are little and enjoy the act of unwrapping things, I do tend to go a little crazy on stockings (and every stocking item is wrapped).
- Draw names for cousins, family, or your group of friends.
- Always have a budget. For our children, their 3 gifts have to be equal in cost and same with their stockings. I also try to give them the same number of gifts, but sometimes that’s not possible.
- Don’t be afraid to create an Amazon wish list. No one enjoys the headache of trying to figure out what someone wants. I give a list to my husband and I also create a list for my kids to give to their grandparents. Obviously, you’ll need to word it carefully so that the person knows you don’t expect them to give a gift. Ask them if they have something picked out or if they’d like any ideas and go from there.
4. Update your contacts regularly
- Create a spreadsheet of all of your holiday card recipients and as cards begin to roll in, verify the address you have on file immediately. Leave your spreadsheet open so it’s easy to access.
5. Keep extra gifts on hand
- You’ve probably had a neighbor come over to drop off a gift and felt embarrassed that you didn’t have anything for them, right? When buying hostess, neighbor, or white elephant gifts, purchase extra (maybe 5) to keep on hand for those random times when someone gives you a gift and you don’t have them on your list.
6. Semi-homemade is the way to go
- No one has time during the holidays to make everything from scratch, nor do they need to do it in the first place. I am all about having things be semi-homemade! Buy pre-made cookie dough, pie crusts (love this stuff!), restaurant rolls, even pies! Find ways to cut corners so you aren’t in the kitchen all season long. Our family loves rolls and I am terrible with yeast and don’t want to spend all day making them, so I recently found a catering place in downtown SLC that makes the BEST rolls. Now, for any special occasion, I purchase their rolls. Guess what? No one cares that they aren’t homemade, because they are delicious! And if I wanted to pretend they were homemade, I would take them out of the plastic, put them in the oven to warm, and then brush a butter glaze over the top before serving. Voila! Major time saver!
- Buy baking staples early. Last-minute grocery trips are the worst, so stock up on the basic ingredients early. Purchase a ton of butter, flower, sugar, baking powder, etc and you’ll be set.
7. Be realistic about cleaning
- This is something I’ve recently implemented and it’s really saved my sanity. I used to have a list a mile long of everything that needed to be cleaned before company came over, because I wanted the house spotless. Guess what, most of it didn’t need to be done. Focus on the areas that people will notice: bathroom toilets, mirrors, floors, and having clean towels. Then, before company arrives, spray your favorite holiday scent or some Lysol and they’ll think you’ve been cleaning for hours.
- Stop all of the dishwashing! I don’t know anyone that likes doing dishes. Last year, I hosted Christmas Eve dinner and the entire place setting was out of paper/plastic products. It looked amazing and there was basically zero clean up! For the record, I’m all about recycling, but maybe to keep your sanity, your family eats off of paper products the week before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Think of all the time you’ll save because you aren’t doing dishes! Then after the holidays, you can get back into your normal recycling program and do something wonderful for the environment. It’s give and take, right? 🙂
8. Let go of perfection
- Perfection doesn’t exist so get over it. Nobody is perfect and everyone has their issues. Remember, one of your friends might be an amazing cook, but her garden might look like crap, and another friend might have a spotless house, but she yells and screams at her kids frequently. Figure out what you are good at and do it well. Let everything else slide by the wayside and don’t worry about it.
9. Don’t be afraid to say “no”
- People understand that you can’t attend everything. If you think adding in that extra family event might send you over the edge, stay home. Have a cozy family night instead. Don’t feel guilty about it and don’t feel the need to give a mile long reason as to why you aren’t attending. Just say “unfortunately we won’t be able to make it”. The end.
10. Cherish the moment
- When you’re stuck in traffic, remember that someone’s grandma could be trying her best to get to the family party. When your crazy uncle starts talking politics, politely go to the restroom. When your kids are acting crazy, remember how excited you were at their age. Try to be in the moment and know that you will never get that day, hour, or even minute back. Make the most of it!
I hope you enjoy all of these tips and that they help you have a less-stressful holiday season. Love you guys!