Believe it or not, the holiday season is right around the corner. In fact, some craft stores are already starting to bust out the wreaths, ornaments, red and green ribbons and other supplies needed to create festive displays. Whether you adore the holidays or are pretty pleased when they are over, it is definitely a busy time of year, filled with long to-do lists, parties, wrapping, shopping and more.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to help keep the crazy time of year as simple and stress-free as possible. Here are a few holiday hacks to try this season:
Spring for a pre-lit Christmas tree
That gorgeous symbol of the holiday season — the Christmas tree — can be a real time suck. First, you have to find and untangle yards of lights; then you have to carefully string them on the tree and hope that one of the bulbs has not burned out. To avoid this hassle, consider investing in a new pre-lit Christmas tree that comes strung with hundreds of pretty bulbs. These easy-to-assemble trees often look like the real deal and will save you hours of light stringing hassles.
Take one day by yourself
Yes, it is fun to create holiday memories with your little ones, and yes, you enjoy shopping with your significant other. But sometimes, you want to plow through as much of your holiday to-do list as you can solo. As Calm Healthy Sexy notes, try to find one day on the calendar when you can devote as many hours as possible to the holidays by yourself. Arrange to take a day off from work, and if your kids are in school, see if a mom friend can pick them up and keep them until dinnertime — of course, you’ll return the favor to her. Then, spend eight to 10 hours tackling as much as you can, from addressing cards and wrapping gifts to cleaning for upcoming guests and whatever else you want to do. You will get so much accomplished in this one day, you will feel on top of things and far less stressed about the rest of the season.
Host a cookie exchange
If the idea of baking a wide variety of holiday cookies is more like a chore than a joy, consider holding a holiday cookie exchange. Invite 10 or so of your buddies over and ask each one to bring 10 dozen of his or her fave cookie, separated into 10 plastic bags. Baking one variety in bulk is much easier and less time consuming than preparing numerous recipes. Put on some holiday music, serve some easy pre-made trays of food from the grocery store and swap cookies. Everyone will leave with a homemade and tasty assortment of holiday morsels.
Determine what everyone truly loves to do
Before the holiday season starts, sit down with your family and ask everyone what traditions truly mean the most to them. You may find that some of the time-consuming activities you have been doing each year are really not that fun for anyone and can be cheerfully dropped from the schedule. Try to honor one cherished tradition for each family member, and in some cases, they may overlap. For example, your kids may adore getting hot cocoa and driving around to see holiday lights a couple of nights during the season and you may love serving meals at a local shelter.
Make an “open first” box
This tip will help future holiday seasons to run smoothly. As Realtor notes, it can be frustrating to spend hours looking for your son’s favorite ornament, your daughter’s Elf of the Shelf doll and your spouse’s holiday cookbooks. This year, as you are unpacking the decorations and supplies, buy a festive storage tote and label it “Open First.” Then, when the season is over and you are putting things away, stash all of these precious items in the new tote. Next year, when everyone has a hankering for holiday spirit, start with the Open First box and all of the fave treasures will be organized in one place.