This is the season I have been waiting for all year long! It is only December 5th, but I know this month will just fly by. I have thought about Christmas 2012 for a while now, and have planned many special events, activities and surprises. I am all about starting new traditions while incorporating childhood traditions our parents and family have shared with us.
I know the holidays can be stressful for people, so I put together a little list of ways to make the holidays a little bit merrier:
1. Make a list, check it twice. When playing Santa the more organized you are, the easier shopping will be. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for and jot down ideas next to their names. I will even put in parenthesis next to the gift item where I can buy it. There is nothing worse than forgetting a family member on Christmas (which I have done!) or rushing out last minute to get a gift you forgot about. Invest in a little black book and keep it in your purse or back pocket during the season.
2. Learn how to shop online. If you are anything like my husband, and would rather go to the mall to do your shopping, that is just fine, but you should still know these facts about online shopping. First of all, many retailers offer free shipping (with no minimum purchase!) during the holidays (if not year round). Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, L.L.Bean, Saks, & Piperlime, are just a few to name. Most other stores offer free shipping with a minimum purchase of $50, $100, or $150. Secondly, you can find additional deals and coupons online that aren't available in stores. For example, Victoria's Secret had a limited time offer for a free pair of slippers with the purchase of one of their "most loved" pajamas. When I went to the mall to buy the pajamas I wanted to give to Aaron's mom for Christmas, I found out the deal was only online. So I ended up leaving empty handed, and getting the better deal online. RetailMeNot is a great place to look for these online promo codes. Finally, there will almost always be more in stock online than in the stores. I can't tell you how many times I have driven all the way to the shops only to find out they ran out of the items I wanted to buy (or the size, fragrance, color, etc.).
So although I will still enjoy a latte while wondering through the mall on the weekend with the hubby, the majority of my shopping is done online. You can save so much time & money by taking advantage of our modern technology!
3. Have a wrapping party. Instead of bribing and begging your spouse or children to wrap the pile of gifts in your closet, make a date with some girlfriends,the neighbors, your siblings, etc. to have a wrapping party. Set out some snacks, pop some bubbly, put on some holiday tunes and push aside the furniture to create a big work space. Everyone can bring something to the party--wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbons & bows. Make sure you have plenty of tape, several pairs of scissors, tissue paper, etc.
4. Bake. Cookies and baked goods are the perfect way to get the season rolling. Keep some at your house and give the rest to neighbors or coworkers. Instead of worrying weather you should get something small for everyone you know and care about, by sending them sweets, you can do something nice for everyone that doesn't require a lot of work. It's the little things that make people happy sometimes. If you aren't the best baker, chocolate covered pretzel sticks are a great alternative and make cute little gifts.
5. See a show. Plan in advance to go to a concert or Christmas show with your family. My husband has made it a tradition since the year we met to get dressed up and go to a concert every December. In the past we have gone to The Nutcracker (my favorite!) and have seen Chris Botti. We have also attended a couple of Christmas concerts that our friends' siblings have been in. There are plenty of local productions that you may not know about--simply do a Google search and find out what is going on close by. No matter what you decide to see, the point is to just sit down, relax, and enjoy the holiday spirit all around you.