1. Start with a plan - I keep a small notebook for the holidays that includes a list of all the people I need to buy for and what they might like (or if I already have something for them), my menu plans for both US Thanksgiving and Christmas, a timeline and more - and it's all in one place!
2. Update your address book early - there's nothing worse than trying to sit down and write your holiday cards and having incomplete addresses or knowing that Uncle Charlie moved last year but you didn't update your address book. Facebook and email are your friends here - reach out and make sure your contacts are up-to-date!
3. In the same vein, get your holiday picture session booked early! Don't wait until the last minute to get the kids spiffied up and get your pictures done - you need some lead time to order your adorable *Tiny Prints Christmas cards and still get them out on time!
4. Clean out your freezer - I have a deep freeze and in preparation for the holidays, I work hard to get the clutter out of the freezer - so I try to use up the various products inhabiting the freezer so I can stock up on really inexpensive turkeys and so that I can prepare some of my holiday meal and desserts in advance!
5. Plan and host a COOKIE EXCHANGE (or better yet find an established one) - making several dozen of your signature holiday cookie is way easier than making a dozen different kinds of cookie - so if you can get several friends together you can look like an ace baker with several different kinds of holiday cookies available, when all you did was email and call a few people and spread the word!
6. Plan your holiday meals in advance too - can you make Cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and freeze some for your Christmas meal? Mashed potatoes also freeze well!
7. Use your notebook to keep a budget - know your price ranges for gifts to buy, for the meals you need to plan etc... and keep track of your spending so you don't end up with holiday buyers remorse and a sea of January debt!
8. If you are going to be travelling by car, make sure you've scheduled all the necessary maintenance well in advance - there's nothing like travelling on icy roads and having a tire go down or an engine problem, and having to sit and wait in the cold for a tow truck, when you could be at your favorite sibling's house enjoying hot mulled wine in front of a roaring fire.
9. If you are going to be travelling by air - try to book your tickets for 'off days' - give yourself a little extra vacation time if you can, and try not to fly on the busiest days of the year - you will get through the terminals faster, pay less money and save your sanity!
10. Make sure you make time for you! Your holidays do not need to be "Martha Stewart" perfect - they just need to be about you and your family and friends, stressing about the holidays can ruin your enjoyment, so try to keep things in perspective... and always make sure that you are taken care of as well as any of your family or friends.
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“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Tiny Prints blogging program, making me eligible to get a $75 Tiny Prints gift certificate! For more information on how you can participate, click here.”