I don’t know about you, but I love the Holidays. The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year with its warm season’s greetings and cheery decorations. I can basically smell the hot apple cider and warm gingerbread cookies now.
One of the things I dislike about my most favorite time of the year is the hustle and the bustle. A season where we are supposed to think of and be with family turns into a Christmas play logistics nightmare.
The season of giving has us giving until our pockets are empty and our cups are dry. The holidays can feel overwhelming and it’s hard to kick back and relax when trying to juggle all the turkeys in the oven. You with me?
I got tired of the run around and decided to hack the holidays. Who doesn’t need to simplify their holidays so they can enjoy them more? Here are a few of my favorite tips you NEED to know this holiday season.
Take the Pictures Now…
In fact, book them in the summer and take them in the fall. Sound crazy? Hang with me. If you want to send out that annual Christmas card (Yes, that’s still a thing. Would you like a blog post on why I love to still send one?) book your pictures in the summer. A good photographer books quickly, and has limited availability.
Therefore, do your research early to book your favorite photographer and avoid the last-minute scramble. It also checks a couple things off your holiday to-do list, and gives you plenty of time to shop for, or plan, well-matching family outfits.
Booking in advance can also help you with your holiday budget, since most photographers appreciate being paid in advance, or ask for a retainer fee. Paying now means that you won’t need to stress about making room in your budget when the holiday season rolls around.
The reason for taking the pictures in the fall (think September or October) is that it still gives you enough time to order, address, and send the cards to the lucky recipients right in time for Christmas.
Do yourself another favor, and order the already return addressed envelopes-or order some address labels to go with it! (Ain’t nobody got time for that! Remember we are hacking and simplifying!)
My favorite go-to place to order holiday pictures is Shutterfly, but you can really get them anywhere.
Just like the holiday photos. Plan, plan, ahead. Write ALL the lists. Keeping track of all the holiday menus, and gift lists, and to-dos, and where to go, and what to make, is enough to get your head swirling.
Start menu planning now. Make a list of what you need for your table decor. Throughout the year, listen to what people want and jot it down in one place (or I use a secret Pinterest board or Amazon Wishlist!). Schedule those plays in your calendar.
Lists are easier to see, and you avoid the “did I forget something syndrome”. The more brain dumping you do the less stress you will feel. Who doesn’t want that?
Also- don’t forget to schedule some you time in this holiday season. It’s important that we remember to take care of ourselves. Perhaps go get a massage, or plan to spend thirty minutes reading that magazine and enjoying a holiday beverage. Avoid the holiday burn out. You deserve it.
Limit the Gifts…
I know, I know, don’t freak out quite yet. Listen to me. This may seem like an impossible thing to do, but I promise if you succeed, not only will your wallet be happier, but so will you.
For my child, I decided that I will implement a four gift rule I read about on the internet. (Unfortunately I do not know nor cannot find the original source, but thank you!) It goes, “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read“. I love this little rhyme since it covers all the gift-giving bases.
The holidays are really about giving, and I do not want my child to be immersed in the easy mindset of consumerism. By limiting his gifts (from us, his parents) I think we will all be better off for it, and it’s a great teaching opportunity!
Change it Up…
Change it up with the gifts, I mean. Not all gifts HAVE to be monetary or physical. Give the gift of time by volunteering. You can volunteer at your child’s Christmas play, or perhaps the soup kitchen instead of giving a donation.
Perhaps change things up by gifting something homemade, like a handmade ornament or a tin of your world famous Christmas cookies.
Or maybe, you could give the gift of experience. Take the kids to see the Nutcracker. Let dad have the day to go fishing. Plan a family trip to the cabin.
The holidays are about creating memories. Go out and make some of your favorite ones. What’s holding you back?
If you must give an actual physical gift, or you really really want to-like for your children, buy the gifts throughout the year. Have a little box in the closet to stash them in. Have a folder on your desk for the receipts (or keep it with the box) to make for an easy return if someone changes their mind.
Make it as easy for yourself financially, physically (you don’t have to shop until you drop!), and mentally as possible.
Start the Holiday Baking Now…
This is by far my favorite holiday hack. Start baking now to avoid toiling away in the kitchen later. Sound crazy? You know all those holiday cookies you need to bring to the office party, to school, to basically everywhere? Those same cookies that are great for last minute company and split-second gifts? Those cookies you are known for around the neighborhood? Make the dough now!
Cookie dough is good for up to three months in the freezer. Just be sure to wrap them in one cookie sheet size balls for easing thawing, plastic wrap, and slide into freezer Ziplocs. Also be sure to date when it was made, what kind of dough it is, and to simplify even more-add the baking time and temperature. It’s so easy!
I do this whenever I make cookie dough since we have such a small family. You could also do this with pie dough, or other pastry dough as well. Avoid the mess in the kitchen when people are over, and actually, enjoy the company!
As a bonus, I’m including a link to one of my favorite sugar cookie recipes over at AddaPinch so you can give this hack a try!
Did you find any of these holiday hacks useful? Do you have a holiday hack you just NEED to share? Let us know in the comments below! Have a wonderful start to your holiday season, head over to Facebook and give us a like, share with your friends, and be sure to subscribe to see more!
Until Later My Friends,
If you’re looking for other ways to simplify your life, check out 5 Tips to Help You Implement Marginal Living Now for more great ideas!