1. Keep your organization right by your side! Check out some of the many smart phone applications that can help you to keep things straight. One of my favorite apps is Grocery Guru- it’s lets me keep my grocery list and pantry inventory with me all the time. If I’m home and need my husband to pick a couple things up, I can email straight from the application to my husband. There are apps for grocery shopping, recipes, tracking gifts, and keeping tabs on your budget.
2. Make a list and check it twice! Make a list of people you plan to gift. Note their favorites (color, sweaters, funky socks, etc) and sizes. Decide what you will gift and go get it. Then, just check it off. This method will work for those of you who shop all year long and store gifts and for those of you who shop during the season. However you choose to organize yourself it will certainly help from gift giving to party planning.
3. If party planning is on your list, go potluck! Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your friends and family. Have the host provide a main dish (turkey, ham, maybe lasagna?) and invite each guest to bring their favorite holiday side dish! You get some variety, learn something about each guest and spend less time out of the room.
4. To spend less time and money on hostess gifts, choose a small, pretty craft that you can make in large batches. One of my favorites this year is sugar scrubs. I found several sugar scrub recipes that have similar ingredients and spent an afternoon mixing and packing them into jelly jars. With a little ribbon and pretty label printed off my computer, I have a stack of gifts that will encourage the recipient to take the time to care of herself! That’s my kind of thank you.
5. If you are shopping in the last few days before Christmas, go with a plan. Know what store you are going to and what item you are looking for. These busy shopping times make it very difficult to browse! To avoid dealing with parking, have a friend or spouse drop you off and pick you up while they’re running another errand and then return the favor!
6. Use for freezer! Find recipes that can be made a month before so you won’t have to worry about meal planning and preparation on those busy weeknights leading up to the holidays. Do the same for your holiday meals. Many rolls can be made up to a week before the meal and frozen. Mashed potatoes, and some casseroles can be made the day before and kept in the fridge overnight. Choose a dessert that can be made a day or two before the big day so you don’t spend Christmas morning listening to your family playing in another room!
7. Remember, when filling out your calendar with parties, shopping and goodwill to make sure you schedule time for fun. Go see the Nutcracker, community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony or sit with the family looking at family photos while sipping hot chocolate and eating Christmas cookies. There’s no need to over commit! Nothing takes the fun out of the holidays faster than over committing.
8. Find fabulous ideas for making Christmas special! One of my favorite finds this year to tape streamers to the kid’s bedroom door after they go to sleep so on Christmas morning they get to break through the streamers like it’s Monday night football! My two year old might just bounce off this year, but I’m keeping it in mind for when he’s bigger!
9. Plan ahead for your cherished family traditions. Gather whatever supplies you will need to help keep the tradition enjoyable.
10. Plan ahead with gifts. A friend of mine has cabinet that I call the gift closet. What my friend does is buy gifts throughout the year and then stores them in this cabinet. This way she has emergency gifts on hand for any occasion and she can keep Christmas presents hidden. Some ideas are to keep on hand are scented candles, bud vases, card games, specialty teas and coffees and those homemade salt or sugar scrubs.
11. As Christmas winds down and you’re packing things away, take the time to inventory your decorations. Are the lights burning out? Ornaments broken? A stocking have a hole? By inventorying your supplies while you are handling them, you’ll be a step ahead next year and able to hit up the after Christmas sales.
12. Storage! I recently found at fabulous blog Design a la Mod for storing Christmas ornaments without buying expensive specially designed containers. So our number ten tip is using plastic cups and a piece of cardboard, any plastic tub becomes a perfect home for ornaments the rest of the year.
If you’re looking for help with your holidays, check out Army Wife Network’s Holiday Planning Pages!