6 Favorite Holiday Tips
The holidays can get a little crazy, right? All those extra things to buy, events to attend, cards to address, cookies to bake, traditions to uphold… Add in all the regular stuff (because that does not magically disappear in December) and the season can feel more hectic than festive.
Over the years I’ve tried to find little ways to make things easier—things that reduce errands, leave me with less to do at busy times (like Christmas Eve or before leaving for an event), and just cross things off the list. So here they are, all in one place—my favorite holiday tips. I hope they bring a little more calm to a crazy time of year!
Simplify packing for holiday events
This one may or may not be useful this year with Covid refusing to go away, but this is helpful even if you’re just doing a simple gift exchange with family. Gather a few tote bags; one per event. Any time you have a gift, nonperishable food, serving piece, etc. for that event, put it in the bag. Day of, just add perishable items and go! (You could even make a Post-It note with things to add right before you leave the house.) I love this one because it cuts down on the time you spend frantically running around your house when you may be running late, and makes it less likely you’ll forget things.
Get rid of toys before Christmas, to make room for new toys
You may be thinking, ‘wait, this sounds like something that will add to my plate’. But hear me out. If you have an Elf on the Shelf, the “elf” can ask your kids to clean out their own toys. Really! Just write (or type, to hide handwriting) out a short letter asking the kids to find any toys they no longer play with. The “elf” can take them back to Santa’s workshop to be spruced up for new kids / kids who may not have many toys / younger kids — use whatever option will be most enticing to your kid(s). The key here is that the decisions are made by the kids — and parents didn’t ask, the elf did. So let your kid go wild and then after they’re in bed, pack it all up in a box (be sure it’s not visible and that they won’t open it!) and when you have a few minutes, drop it off (or schedule a donation pick-up).
Stash cookies in your freezer
Drop cookies (i.e. chocolate chip and other cookies that don’t get rolled out) and slice-and-bake cookies freeze well. So when you’re baking, make a double batch, shape the individual cookies or roll, and stash half in the freezer for later. If you need last-minute cookies for a party or neighbor, just pull out and bake. (Most of the time you can just add a couple minutes to the baking time; no need to defrost.) For the record, I do this year round. Because sometimes you need homemade cookies ASAP!
Streamline your holiday wrapping
Are there people you give multiple gifts to—like close family members, especially kids? Designate a different paper for each one—preferably something that ties in to an interest so you’ll remember (i.e. puppies in Santa hats for a dog lover). You’ll know at a glance which presents go to reach person, you won’t need gift tags, and—it’s harder for them to snoop!
Organize stocking stuffers by person, from the beginning
This bag of bags is the easiest way I've found to organize stocking stuffers. Instead of stashing small things all over the place, not knowing what I have and over (or under) buying, and (let's be honest) losing things, I sort by person. A paper lunch bag per person, grouped in a large bag so it's portable and stays together. The bags hold roughly the same amount as our stockings so I know when to stop shopping, AND because they're organized by person filling stocking on Christmas Eve is quick and easy. Seriously—about 1 minute of set-up now, with things probably already in your house, and no searching for things on Christmas Eve!
Have last-minute gifts ready to go
It’s always the little, unexpected gifts that send you rushing to the store, frantically trying to find something fast. You know—the hostess gift, the bus driver, the coach... At the beginning of the season, buy a few things to have on hand. Wrap them nicely and the next time you find yourself needing a little gift, check your stash instead of running to the store. Then enjoy being on time and not frantically wrapping gifts in the back of your car. ;) Ideas? Wine, coffee gift card, movie theater gift card, nice candles, a festive plant (if you’ll keep it alive!), or a universally useful Amazon or Target gift card. This is also a great time to support small businesses, like candy stores, a local book store, or an independent coffee shop. (Hey parents — this also works great for kids' birthday parties, especially during the years of whole-class parties when you don't know what to buy anyway.)
When the season ends, do a few things to make next year easier.
Pack up your holiday decorations by room
If everything you need to decorate your mantel is in one box and labeled accordingly, next year it will be easy to get just what you need and take it to the right place. The ornaments, tree skirt, tree stand, and lights? Store them all together. Everything you use in the dining room? You've got it, all in one box. And label, label, label! It can be fancy or just Sharpie on masking tape, anything works as long as you don’t have mystery boxes.
Save those fruit and wine boxes
If someone sends you holiday pears this year, don’t throw out the box! The subdivided sections are great for keeping ornaments secure. Just wrap in a little tissue paper (bonus points if you use some that would otherwise be thrown away on Christmas morning). Wine boxes with cardboard inserts can be great for larger decorative items. Easy on you, because they're already in the house. Good for your wallet, because there's nothing to buy. And good for the planet, because you're consuming less and throwing out less too.
So there you have it; just a few little ways to simplify a hectic season. I hope some of these tips help make the season a little calmer for you! Have a great holiday tip to share? Leave a comment!