Monday, December 8, 2014

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.... least that's what the song says right??

I think most of us think of this as the most stressful time of year. There is so much to be done and so little time before the holidays to get it done. I thought today I would share some tips on keeping your stress levels low and your cheer high. I know from personal experience that we tend to want to do it all and then we end up in a nervous breakdown the week before Christmas trying to get to everything finished. (This coming from the girl who has added dog sitting and coaching a dance team to the full time job I hold as well as writing this blog- I know I'm crazy) There are a few things you can do to make this time of year more enjoyable (or at least plan on next year being less stressful).

Buying Gifts

I know that buying gifts is a central and materialistic part of the holiday season. It can ridiculously stressful knowing what to buy for everyone which is why I like to keep a couple of lists to help me out.

List #1 details everything I have purchased and who I purchased each item for. Also if I've hidden the gift for some reason it's also listed on there. 

List #2 is a list of gift ideas. I keep a physical list as well as one on my cell phone and all year long I keep track of ideas that I have for family and friends. There are a lot of times I am out shopping with my mom and she mentions something that she likes and it's great to quickly jot it down so when Christmas time comes I can get something she actually will like/use. I do the same thing with my friends and it really has helped me.

Another tip I have is to buy gifts all year long. Now that we're in December it is obviously a little late for this year- but start preparing for next year! I always shop the after-Christmas sales and look for items to put aside for next year. I make sure to buy my gift wrap during this time and anything that is specifically holiday related- such as ornaments- so that way I'm not paying full price.

Buying gifts off-season is way less stressful with smaller crowds in the store and the ability to actually find a parking get out there early! =)

Wrapping Gifts

I think we've all been there- that marathon wrapping marathon where you feel like you might die via paper cuts and scotch tape- but that no longer needs to be the case! My simple solution? Wrap as you go. When you go to the mall and come home with an amazing gift for your grandpa- wrap it. When you buy a fistful of gift cards during your grocery shopping trip- wrap them. When you finish knitting that scarf for your best friend- wrap it up! 

Don't get too crazy about wrapping- a beautifully wrapped gift is definitely a bonus and looks great under the tree- but there is definitely nothing wrong with a nice gift bag. Gift bags are much easier and take half the time.

Giving Gifts

I always get super stressed about when I'm going to be handing out the gifts that I bought, so when December rolls around I like to pull out my planner and check out what is going on for the month. I get nervous about making sure I see everyone before the month is over and I like to organize my gifts like that as well. When I have all my gifts wrapped I separate them into sections- all my family gifts go into two piles- my immediate family that will be receiving their gifts on Christmas morning, and the rest of my family that will be given their gifts on Christmas Eve. 

My friends gifts depend on the day I will see them, so I try to sort them out by when I will be seeing each person. Some are at Christmas parties and others I have to make special arrangements to see. Keeping everything organized in a planner is so important- especially this month!

Christmas Cards

If you've ever sent a batch of holiday cards you can understand why this is such a stressful, sore spot.

One tip I learned from my mom was to create labels on your computer to save your hand some serious pain writing out all the envelopes. I would take it a step further and also update your address labels as you hear from friends and relatives throughout the year. This way when the holiday comes around all you have to print out those labels, stick 'em to the envelope and drop 'em in the mailbox!

Holiday Events

Another reason why your planner is so important this holiday season. I know you have a bazillion things going on this month- Christmas parties- both with friends and family, Holiday events and bazaars and don't forget those holiday shows that the kids put on every year! There is so much going on that unfortunately you can't do everything. Here's my number one tip for this- Sometimes you have to say NO. As much as we like to believe we can do everything- we can't. Pick and choose what is most important to you. Plan to attend the events that are meaningful and skip the others in order to get some holiday things done that you otherwise wouldn't have time for. 

Get In The Spirit!

Take a step back and enjoy the season- go see those Christmas light displays, pick out a tree, make some cookies as a family. Take time to enjoy it. I know about the stress of the holidays- but by being prepared and organized you can tackle this time of year and come out on the other side smiling!

Happy Holidays Everybody!

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