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9 Tips for Preparing for the Holidays

9 Tips for Preparing for the Holidays

It’s that time of the year again – time for the holidays! Along with the family get-togethers, gift-giving and desserts galore, come the over-crowded shopping malls, over-scheduled weekends and overwhelmed children and adults. By planning ahead with these nine tips for preparing for the holidays, you’ll be able to keep the holiday focus around what it should really be about – spending time with loved ones, giving back and being grateful.

Little girl under Christmas tree

9 Tips for Preparing for the Holidays

Little girl on Santa's lap1. List, lists and more lists! Create a shopping list of gifts you’ll need to buy. Besides your immediate family and friends, who else are you purchasing something for? Think about gifts for teachers, babysitters, doctors, your mailman, neighbors, colleagues or any other special people in your life. Make a list of how much you’ll be spending on gifts (and be sure to stay within budget!). Create a grocery list of things you’ll need for each holiday event, a calendar list of holiday events your family is invited to (be sure to RSVP!), an address list for mailing holiday cards, and any other lists that may help you prepare for the holidays. I like to use my iPhone Notes app so I can easily erase or mark off things when they’re complete and I always have it readily available.

2. Don’t over-schedule. Decide which events are most important for your family to be at. Often times, children can get overwhelmed by bouncing around to different family parties and holiday events. It doesn’t hurt to spend a weekend night at home cuddled up reading a good holiday book! If your children aren’t required to be at a party, try to get a babysitter. If they start getting cranky, it’s okay to leave a bit early.

3. Be the host with the most. Are you hosting a holiday party? Be sure to get your invitations out early and set a RSVP date. This allows your guests to plan ahead. Be specific and let guests know if children are invited, if you’ll be doing a holiday grab, if food or desserts are welcomed, etc. Plan what your family will be wearing a few days before so there’s no wardrobe issues the day of your event. Set expectations for your children and be sure to create an area with activities and games where children can play. Plan what holiday food items and drinks you’ll be having. If family members are helping out, make a list of what each person is expected to bring. Cook and/or bake recipes that are freezable in advance.

4. Start shopping NOW! In order to avoid over-crowded shopping centers and items being sold out, take a few hours to get some shopping done as early as possible. Ordering online is now easier than ever and most stores offer great holiday return policies. Be sure to keep receipts with all of your purchases, and give gift receipts when necessary. Stock up on your wrapping paper and supplies so you can wrap presents as you purchase them (be sure to label each one!). Buy extra bottles of wine with gift bags or smaller gifts in case you need a present for a host or if you’ll be participating in a holiday grab. Purchase smaller items as stocking stuffers.

5. Set aside family time. Set time to decorate a tree, drive around and look at holiday lights, take a trip to the mall to visit Santa, collect canned goods to donate to a local shelter, make holiday cards and gifts instead of purchasing them – the activities are endless!

6. Create family traditions. It’s never too late! A few things my daughter and I do are advent calendars (we make our own with construction paper rings), and ornament decorations. Each year we make an ornament together. When she was first born, I purchased a kit to make an ornament out of her handprint and it’s one of my favorite keepsakes. Mary’s family has a love affair with Elf on a Shelf scavenger hunts. There are so many great family holiday traditions you can start.

7. Get your holiday decorations out early. If the grocery store can already have an entire Christmas section, why can’t you start decorating? Let your children help spice up your home! Buy a few holiday scented candles to really set the mood.

8. Smile for the camera. Document your memories! Aside from getting that perfect holiday card photo, schedule a family holiday photo shoot, snap a few pictures of your children on your smartphone, put some jingle bells on your furry friend and get him in a photo too. Don’t forget your camera when attending family events. Often we get so caught up with everyday life that we don’t see family members as much as we’d like to. After the holiday season, create a family scrapbook that you can share with everyone.

9. Talk to your children about the true meaning of the holidays. It’s easy for children to get distracted by the holiday advertising overload. Discuss how the holidays are a time to be with family and reflect on all of the wonderful things in your life. Ask your children what they’re thankful for. Read books about social responsibility. Send homemade holiday cards to a Children’s Hospital or Shelter. Donate a few toys to a children’s charity and explain to your children why it’s important to give back. Teaching children empathy and the importance of helping others is a valuable lesson for all.

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season – I know it’s my favorite time of year! What do you love most about the holidays?

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