‘Tis the season – for making lists and checking them twice, for countless errands all over town, for buying and baking, returning and wrapping, Santa visits and school plays – December never seems to stop. To ensure that you survive this month, enjoy the holidays with your family and don’t end up face down in your Christmas dinner, we have some Christmas and Holiday planning tips to help you make it through to the New Year!
- Prioritize: As a mother of young children, your schedule is already full. Those women out there who are getting it all done? They either have help, magic powers or they’re just not sleeping! Instead of keeping up with anyone else, sit down and prioritize what your family needs this holiday season. As you work your way through the month, some of the lower items on the list may not happen, but that is OK. Maybe a professional photo session isn’t in the cards, but a family photo (taken by a neighbor) with all of you in holiday jammies is just as precious. If your Christmas cards aren’t getting out by the 25th, make them New Year’s greetings or even skip a year; the world won’t end. As your social calendar fills with Open Houses and Cookie Swaps, Choir Performances and more, decide what is doable and what is not. Through it all, do not lose sight that this is a family holiday and your family comes first.
- Stock Up: You know, without fail, that there are some things you will definitely need this holiday season – so stock up now rather than running out on Christmas Eve. Wrapping paper and gift bags, tags and tissue paper, batteries and scotch tape are all December essentials. When shopping for gifts, think about buying and wrapping a few extras so that if a neighbor, friend or co-worker gives you something unexpectedly, you can return the sentiment. Simple things like candles, gift cards or a bottle of wine and baked goods are great for these occasions. And speaking of stocking up, ensure your pantry has what you need whether it’s baking supplies or other grocery items. As the roads, stores and parking lots everywhere are extra crowded, don’t hesitate to utilize online shopping for grocery runs. Be it Amazon, Walmart grocery pickup or Kroger ClickList, these services allow you to get what you need, keep you and the kids in the car and be on your way – all in the time it would take you to park, unload and find a cart.
- Online is Optimal: On that note, don’t try to fight the crowds this season. The last thing you need to do is waste time and babysitter options on hitting the malls or the stores. In this digital age, you can find almost everything you need without ever having to leave your house. Most stores are running online sales, free or discounted shipping options and when you factor in your time, it makes sense that your computer or iPod is the easiest way to get things done.
- Budget Friendly: This topic should truly be at the top of everyone’s priority list! So often, we go a little nuts and spend January and February in a budget freeze. Why make the “holiday hangover season” even more depressing by being broke? Instead, set your budget and stick to it! That includes everything on this list whether shopping, décor, food items, wardrobe, social outings and more!
- Social Settings: Going back to our top tip – prioritizing – it’s a known fact that you will most likely have more social obligations than you have time. Be realistic as you plan your holiday calendar. Try not to double book your days or nights as it is always be difficult to successfully attend and enjoy multiple functions; all too often, the logistics are all-consuming and you spend your time worrying about leaving. Additionally, as you attend events for the whole family, be mindful of your children’s schedule. If bedtime is at 8, it’s not fair to anyone to have your child out until ten. If your toddler is a nightmare without a nap, remember that as you commit to an outing. This is a wonderful time of the year to visit and enjoy, but remember that your children need what they need – and that doesn’t change, even in December.
- Quality Time: All too often, this month is a mental checklist of all the wonderful memories you need to create – breakfast with Santa, seeing Christmas lights, holiday photos, baking cookies and decorating the tree. Be careful that you don’t fly through these so quickly just to get them done. If you have little ones, decorating the tree as a family may not be the best option. Instead, do it with your spouse and you can surprise your children with “everything the elves did the night before!” Holiday photos – and even Santa pictures so often go wrong so know when to cut your losses and move on. If you don’t get that picture-perfect Santa moment, just know that in 5 years, you’ll appreciate your daughter’s pouty face and the fact that your son is literally running out of the photo! This season, try to be intentional about enjoying what you’re doing when you’re doing it – and if you don’t get to everything, it’s still OK.
There is no list, no advice, no helpful hints or tasteful tips that can make this season slow down, but we hope that these suggestions enable you to take a breath – and maybe even a step back – as you move through the next several weeks.
Aside from “it takes a village,” one of the most popular quotes that almost all moms know is “the days are long but the years are short.” That is never truer than during the holidays. Our wish for you this magical season is that you do accomplish what you need but also that you enjoy and celebrate at the same time.