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10 Tips On Holiday Prep That Will Save Your Sanity

Written by Tiana Lewis

Photography by Photograph via Ames Tribune

The holidays can be a whirlwind for everyone, but something about this festive time of year means an especially overwhelming workload for us moms. From planning for travel (be it your own or your loved ones who come to visit) to gift buying and wrapping, all the way down to meal prep, it may seem you never have a moment to sit down, let alone take a breath. But just because the holidays are a busy time, doesn’t mean that they have to be stressful, too. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our top ten tips that you can do now in order to avoid trouble later. So, feel to personalize this list, check it twice, and make this holiday season both breezy and nice!

Finalize And Schedule Travel Plans
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, or simply welcoming loved ones into your home this year, having a finalized schedule for travel is essential to making the holidays operate smoothly. If you and your family are doing the traveling, be sure to mark all dates on your calendar and store travel essentials in one place (passports, tickets, etc.) If you’re having guests, make a list of everyone coming and their arrival/departure times. If you can, go the extra mile, and help coordinate transportation and provide additional options for lodging if your house is full.

Make A Master Menu Plan
Planning and providing meals for the entire family can be a herculean task. To get ahead of the game, create an outline for daily meals, not just your holiday feasts. Make your grocery list early, shop for or order your essentials ahead of time (such as turkeys or ham), and cook what you can in the days before to pop into the freezer for later. When the big days do arrive, be sure to make a schedule and give yourself plenty of time to accomplish everything that you need to prepare in the kitchen that day.

Prep The House
Break out the air mattresses, dust off the china, and wash the linens. Try dedicating an entire day to making your home holiday ready, so that you don’t have to worry about it later. Start with the areas that receive the least amount of traffic and work your way toward more important rooms. Take a second look at your list of guest, and be sure that there is enough bedding and towels for everyone. If not, plan on a time when you can go out and retrieve more.

Make A List & Check It Twice
To ensure that you don’t miss anyone, try sitting down and drafting a list of every person that you need to purchase gifts for. This extends beyond your family and loved ones. Do you have any holiday parties coming up? Is there anyone at the office that you need to buy for? Creating this record will provide you with a clear image of what you’re getting yourself into, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed as the holidays arrive.

Set A Budget And Stick To It
Once you’ve created your master gift list, set an overall budget for present purchases. You can even take it one step further and set a budget for each individual gift. The most important tip for budgeting is to ensure that you stick to it! So, be sure to practice diligence and restraint during this tempting time. Also, don’t forget to check credit card limits, deals, and promotions, as looking into these things ahead of time could save you a lot of money in the end! And, if you’re looking for even more ways to save money this holiday season, consider homemade, personalized gifts like fudge, cookies, or a handwritten card. Need some great gift ideas? Check out our holiday gift guides!

Wrap As You Buy
Many individuals dedicate an entire day to wrapping presents just before the holidays. However, if you want to take it one step further, why not try wrapping each present as you purchase it? This relieves the workload as the time to give your gifts draws near, as well as provides a clear picture of what else you might need to purchase.

Coordinate Shipping
Skip the long lines at the post office, and schedule all gifts that need to be sent via mail ahead of time. This means researching shipping times and fees, as well as coordinating for drop-off of each item. If you can, have USPS pick up the packages at your house, and if you’re the one traveling, figure out what can travel with you in your luggage.

Deck The Halls
Decorating tends to be one of the more exciting tasks on our to-do lists, so why not make an entire day of it? Drag the holiday decor out of storage, and purchase anything additional that you may need ahead of time. Then, round up the kiddos, put on some festive music and your coziest getups, and go to town! You’ll be happy that you got your decorating out of the way, and your kids will be ecstatic that they can plug in the lights for a few extra days.

Book Your Sitter In Advance
If you’ve celebrated the holidays with your kiddos before, you’ll know that babysitters are few and far between this time of year. Round up a list of your top choices for sitters and coordinate with them in advance. This way, you’re not left scrambling right before your that holiday party or annual dinner at a friend’s house.

Breathe, Relax, & Have Fun
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many of people forget to relax during the holiday season. Once you’ve prepared, the only thing left to do is sit back and enjoy! If the soufflé sinks, or your in-laws pick another fight, don’t worry! The show can and must go on. Try not to sweat the small stuff, and surround yourself in warm thoughts of what really matters—being with those you love during this holiday season.

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