Last night when the hubby got home from work the Christmas tree was illuminating our front window, supper was ready, the girls were peacefully coloring at the kitchen table (although they were teetering precariously at the great yawning edge of the abyss heretofore known as endless whining and bickering), and I was playing an Elvis Christmas CD. I felt like a vertitable modern day June Cleaver I tell you! He will never tell, but for a moment he just might have thought his family had been abducted by aliens.
The holidays can be a stressful time, with parties to attend, presents to wrap
throw into last year’s gift bags, and mile-long to do lists to plow through. Here are some of my tips for saving time and stress:
Order your holiday cards this week if you haven’t already done so. I ordered 100 photo cards from Winkflash yesterday for less than $40! They are running a great special and the prices are cheaper than WalMart. (Savvy shopping mamas around the world swoon!)
Buy your holiday stamps online. That’s right. You can go directly to the U.S. Postal Service’s website, order stamps, and have them mailed to you. You might think this is silly, but I can’t tell you how nice it is to avoid one more trip to the post office this month. And it costs a whopping $1 for the convenience.
If you are really into convenience and you aren’t on a tight budget, Hallmark offers a service where they will address and ship your cards for you. I’ve never tried this, but one of my friends has. For a $1.25 per card, Hallmark will even have a staff member handwrite your personal greeting. They also have gorgeous photo card templates to choose from. Of course I think it might be odd to get a card with someone else’s handwriting, but this might be a great option if you have a very large number of cards to send.
I am no longer a mall rat, but if you have a day of power shopping planned at your local mall, take advantage of their gift wrapping service. Just be prepared to stand in line, although some malls will offer a drop-off option. I’m not a big fan of wrapping presents now that I have small children and must lock myself away at midnight in the bathroom in order to get any wrapping done, not to mention the fact that the first word that comes to the mind of Miss A when she sees a beautifully wrapped package is DESTROY!
Recycle your holiday gift bags from year to year. I think this is the third year the Sesame Street bag will appear under the tree. You’ve got to love Grover in a Santa hat.
Learn to say no. You don’t have to attend every event or party you are invited to, now do you Miss Paris Hilton?
Make a shopping list and stick with it. Your wallet will thank you. And honestly sit down and ask yourself if you can remember who gave you what for Christmas last year. Think about it.
Shop online and check out a website such as Current Codes for the latest discount codes for free shipping and other good deals. For out of town gifts, remember that Amazon will gift wrap and ship the item directly to to the recipient. If you’re super lame and forgot someone on your list or are completely out of time and resources, you can e-mail a gift card at literally the last minute.
Purchase a few inexpensive generic gifts, such as holiday candy or a pretty embroidered hand towel, for those impromptu holiday lunches. It’s good to keep a couple of bottles of wine on hand, too. The bonus is you can drink them if you don’t give them away.
Cook suppers with staying power. In the winter I like to make heartier meals that provide at least one night of leftovers. Last night I made this Southern Living skillet taco recipe and it was a big hit. I know my psyche is shoring up for a long winter when KFC commercials start to look appealing. (I am a fan of the original recipe variety as well as the mashed potatoes and gravy. Dang, that is some good sodium-laden shizzle.)
And one last thing, don’t forget that the holiday memories that will have the most impact on your children involve the gift of your time. Take the time to drive around your neighborhood to look at holiday lights (and the cynical among us adults can snicker at the neighbor with the gawdiest amount of inflatable lawn ornaments), put on a Bing Crosby CD and bake a batch of sugar cookies, and sit down to read a holiday book, talk about the true Christmas story, or watch a holiday DVD.
So, what are some of your holiday sanity savers? Add them to the comments!
p.s. Feeling the need to get the heck out of Dodge? One of the ads in rotation on my sidebar is for a five-night Tuscany getaway sponsored by PAM (complete with airfare and cooking lessons for two.) Check it out!