It’s officially here. Are holidaylights_thumb.jpgyou enjoying this holiday season, or have you let the hub-bub and hoopla get the best of you?

When it feels like there’s more to do than time to do it in, prioritize. What MUST you accomplish, what would you LOVE to get done, and what will you do IF time permits?

Santa shouldn’t be the only one making a list and checking it twice – have your to-do lists with you at all times; I keep notes and errands on my smartphone using Wunderlist.

My holiday gift lists are on excel spreadsheets: one for hubby, each kid, and all other family, friends, Secret Santa, and charity presents. I list ideas as they’re given or thought of, and fill in purchase details so I stay within budget and get the right number of gifts for stocking stuffers. I print the lists, carry them in my store coupon organizer, and update them a few times throughout the season using receipts for purchases made.  I hang on to receipts until I know stuff fits, works, and is a keeper.

If you have too much on your plate, cut back. Say no. If there are things you don’t enjoy or don’t have time for, stop. I haven’t sent Christmas cards in 15 years. I liked to write personal notes in each, but when it turned into a chore, I quit. Guess what? Nothing bad happened.

I used to bake a bunch of different cookies – I’ve trimmed it down to our favorite three kinds, and that’s plenty.

Hubby and I turn gift wrapping into a fun event throughout the holidays with a cozy fire, a glass of wine, and everything we need to create beautiful packages. It’s one of our favorite holiday traditions. If gift wrapping isn’t your thing, make the switch to gift bags – they’re easy breezy and still very festive.

If you hate the holiday crowds, do your shopping online. If you don’t like online shopping, think strategically and logically, and plan your trip to maximize what gets accomplished.

Agonizing over gift ideas? Try gift cards, baked goods, or something homemade if you’re crafty AND have time. Postage stamps, return address labels, and envelopes are great for seniors who don’t need more “stuff.” Instead of exchanging gifts, why not plan a lunch date, go see a movie, or have dinner and drinks together.

Decorating is simplified, too. Decorations are packed in bins labeled by room, and my room-by-room computerized list tells me where each item goes. If I add something new (and get rid of something old!) I update the list. It saves time by eliminating the frustration of trying to remember where things go. If there are décor items you  no longer use, donate them – there are folks out there who have nothing.

Don’t expect people to read your mind. If there’s something you’d really appreciate as a gift, say so – surprises aren’t all they’re cracked up to be! If you’d like to be included in holiday festivities, speak up.

If you know someone who will be alone, include them in one of your holiday traditions. Be a light that twinkles for someone if darkness weighs heavily on them this time of year. That’s a gift you can’t put a price on.

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