Ways To Have A Stress-Free Holiday Season

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If you follow me on Snapchat, you know I was wrapping Christmas presents early last week. Yes, it’s October and I’ve already started wrapping. I usually won’t let myself wrap until December, but this year, my only trip up North was October and I needed to take Christmas gifts on the pony express.

Because, yes, it’s only October and I’m already done shopping for Pete’s nephews.

I start shopping early because that’s just one way to have a stress-free holiday season. If I’m not spending every day from Black Friday until Christmas Eve shopping, I’m a lot better off. Plus, I’m free to make cookies. So yes, it’s still October but you can start checking a few things off Santa’s list. Start now and you’ll be thanking yourself later on nights when you can sit, drink a hot toddy, and watch a holiday movie — instead of running to the drugstore for another roll of tape.

Ways To Have A Stress-Free Holiday Season

1. Purchase gifts early.
I start my holiday shopping as early as possible. To be honest, I probably start the day after Christmas. That’s when items like wrapping paper and decorations are half off, so I pick some up for next year.

For gifts, though, I’ll pick up a few things here and there throughout the year, but those more often are used as birthday presents rather than Christmas gifts. Once August hits, I usually have all birthday gifts taken care of, so I’m usually in Christmas mode.

I make a list with the names of everyone I have to shop for and every time I pick up a gift, I add it to the list. That helps me make sure everyone has the same number, plus it reminds me of gifts I’ve picked up during the year that I may have forgotten about.

2. Wrap them early too.
With the exception of this year, I won’t start wrapping my Christmas presents until I have a tree to put them under. And I won’t put a tree up until after Black Friday. So even if I have the gifts in September, they’ll just sit unwrapped in the closet for a while. As soon as our tree is up, though, I’ll wrap them, tag them, and put them under the tree. It’s a nice way to enjoy our gifts as decorations (plus helps me assess where I’m at with gifts too).

The only exception is Pete’s gifts. I will wrap them early but I hide them back in the closet. I won’t put them out until Christmas Eve because I don’t want him guessing at what I got him.

3. Order cards now.
I’m usually really good about sending out Christmas cards. The first weekend of December, I write out all my cards. Then that Monday, they’re in the mailbox ready to go. The only way I’m able to do that is if I get them ahead of time.

Like now. 

Minted just released the top-voted holiday card designs from its 2017 Holiday Card Collection. Each one is sourced from an emerging artist, which is really cool. Also cool is that Minted has a ton of cards you can personalized with your own images, choosing a color palate that fits your style, and more. Plus — and this is the big time saver — Minted offers free recipient addressing on holiday cards.

If you start your cards now, you have time to move your photos around 100 times to make sure they’re exactly how you want them. And you’ll still have time to get them out before the holiday rush.

4. Freeze your cookie dough.
When my mom was still in New York, she used to make a zillion cookie platters, each with a zillion different cookies. It was a lot of work for her to spend a whole weekend doing nothing but baking. After a few years, she had a brilliant idea. She would spread it out over a few weekends. She would make a different dough each weekend, roll it into cookie balls, and freeze it. The day before she was to give out the platters, she would take the cookie balls from the freezer and bake them.

Much easier.

I actually started doing this myself, but during the year. If I’m going somewhere to bring cookies, I’ll bake half the dough and then freeze the other half. Then, when I’m going somewhere else, I am already halfway done with my baking. 

5. Make a movie night.
During the last week or so of the Christmas season, Pete and I have a movie night. We pick our favorite Christmas movies (Christmas Vacation, Elf, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, etc.) and watch one a night. It’s a great way to unwind from the day, press pause and stop rushing, and just enjoy spending time together. 

The season really can be chaotic and you can lose sight of the enjoyment in it. I really love Christmas (it’s my favorite time of year), so I try to just enjoy it as best I can. The more running around I can do before the season starts, the more time it leaves me to drive around the neighborhood, checking out Christmas lights.

What do you do to have a stress-free holiday season?

 

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