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Surviving the Holidays

I probably should have posted this a few months ago when I was getting my holiday preparations under way. But better late than never!

The holidays are always fun, but getting to those fun parts in one piece can be so stressful. Even more so around my house because both of my kids have birthdays around this time of year. I’ve had to implement a few survival tactics:

  • Start early… as in… shop for gifts ALL YEAR LONG. I try to have everything purchased before the week of Thanksgiving. But keep a master list of what you bought for whom and how much it cost, otherwise you’ll get even more frazzled. I use a Google Spreadsheet so my husband can view and update it too.
  • As much as possible, get everything wrapped before Thanksgiving as well. No bows or ribbons and just sticky notes to identify who the gift is to and from. It makes it too hard to stash them away if there are bows and such on them. Add the bows, ribbons and labels when you’re ready to put them under the tree.
  • Make things like pies and cookie dough well in advance and freeze it. Just make sure it’s well wrapped and then completely thawed by the time you want to cook it.
  • Stay organized. Keep checklists, spreadsheets, calendars or whatever will keep you organized. The more you store in your brain, the more you’ll forget. I like to use Google Docs because I can access them from any computer. For one thing, I have a list of general things I need to do before I have a party, organized by how far in advance it should be done, then I add dates and start crossing things off.
  • Don’t try to stuff too much into too small a space of time. Whether it’s cleaning for guests, cooking, parties or trips. Plan everything out on a calendar to make sure you have time for everything.
  • Make a plan B just in case you or one of your kids gets sick.
  • Say “no” if you have to. If I had followed this advice, I wouldn’t have been stressing out about being in charge of decorating our church for Christmas the week before Megan’s birthday party! I love doing things for people, but sometimes you just have to say “no.”
  • Eat right. It’s hard, but you’ll feel better if you do your best to limit sweets. If you can’t control yourself, just try to stay away altogether and pick one day where you can indulge.
  • Don’t feel bad if you can’t make everything from scratch. Costco makes great pies, veggie and fruit platters from the grocery store are perfectly good, sometimes store-bought bread is better than what you can make yourself. Make what you want to yourself and buy the rest. (Just make sure to put it in your own dishes so it LOOKS like you made it yourself.)
  • Do not, repeat, DO NOT go anywhere near the mall after Thanksgiving. It’s a waste of time and stress to try to fight the crowds. If you shop year-round you’ll be able to find plenty of deals that are just as good as those Black Friday Sales. If you HAVE to do any shopping after Thanksgiving, try to do it online or go in the middle of the day on a week day.
  • Enjoy yourself! The point of all of this work is to have fun and enjoy family and friends. Don’t stress out if your house isn’t quite as clean as you want it to be or if the cookies you baked didn’t turn out right, or your wrapping job isn’t as creative as your sister-in-law’s. Just enjoy the people, that’s what it’s really about.