Hello friends! I'm guessing some of you may have been wondering where I have been! Well, I have been caught up in the holiday madness! It seems to be hitting our household a bit earlier this year, but with no less of a punch. We have been feverishly decorating and wrapping gifts which has unfortunately caused me to get behind on my posting.
I won't apologize or feel guilty, however, since this is in keeping with my quest for balance. I have really been making an effort to put the goings on in my household at the top of my "to do" list which of course means less time for blogging :( We've decided to get a jump on things this year as it is one of our favorite times of the year. Our goal: a relaxing and stress free holiday! How might this be accomplished you may ask?
- Freezer cooking. We like to lounge around on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day which means I want to spend as little time as possible cooking (which is true for me most of the year). So I have done some freezer cooking. I have prepared a breakfast casserole (which we have every Christmas morning) and stuck it in the freezer all ready. The great thing about doing this is you can take it out before you go to bed and put it in the oven to thaw. This gives the eggs time to soak into the bread. It tastes great. I've also done make ahead mashed potatoes and some other side dishes so that the big Christmas dinner won't be as daunting.
- Shopping early. Yes, I know this is not for everyone (myself included!). I typically procrastinate causing myself a lot of undue stress. This year, however, I have gotten most of my Christmas shopping done already. I only have a few items here and there to pick up which can easily be done on a lunch hour (when stores are less crowded).
- Shop online. This has been a lifesaver for me! I did most of my shopping online and have gotten some great results. Most of the after Thanksgiving sale prices at large retail stores are good on their websites as well. I am able to get most of the same great deals while sipping my coffee sitting in my pajamas at the computer rather than getting up at 3:00 and sitting in the cold.
- Wrap them early. As soon as I pick some gifts up, I get them wrapped (usually after the kids are in bed). I HATE wrapping lots of gifts. It really becomes a chore to me. Doing it in small chunks here and there will keep me from procrastinating again and doing it all the day of.
- Clear out the clutter. The holidays are a great time to get rid of clutter. You know, out with the old and in with the new! For example, we keep our decorations in the attic which is only accessible through our daughter's closed which is a mess! I picked one weekend to clear out and organize her closet. We took three bags of old toys out! It is amazing to me how much stuff gets accumulated. It made getting the Christmas gear out a much more pleasant experience. While in the attic, I went through the decorations and tossed those that we no longer used which freed up a lot of storage space and boxes (which will in turn make putting everything away much easier!). We also went through and organized the playroom pulling out old or toys that were no longer being used for donation to a local charity. This is a great way to avoid getting "stuffitis."
- Don't over commit. There are always so many things going on at the holidays, e.g., office Christmas parties, dinner with friends, etc., which can make schedules crazy around the holidays. Take a close look at your family calendar. Are you packing too much into your schedule? It is okay to decline a party invite especially if it is one that you would really rather not attend. Often we let the "shoulds" dictate our decisions, e.g., "We really should go to the party or they will think we don't like them." Maybe you don't like them! That's okay too! If I feel that we have been on the go too much, I will often decline an invite if I think it is in the best interest of our family. A good response? How about: "Thank you so much for the invitation and we would love to join you, but we have been gone nearly every night this week. Our kids need a night to wind down and so do we. Thanks again for the invite and I hope you understand." Most people, while they may be disappointed, can understand the need to have an evening at home with family.
So, what things do you do to keep your sanity at the holidays? Do share!