I'd love to hear your holiday tips and tricks too- anything fun or different that you do?
1) Avoid CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome). Holidays are probably the only time of year that we get drop-in visitors, so it's extra motivation for me to keep the house picked up so I wouldn't be embarrassed if friends or neighbors stopped by. Make an extra effort to keep dishes out of the sink, the powder room stocked, and the magazine stacks cleared out. And if you have a dog anything like Captain K, the Swiffer can be your best friend!!!
2) Food and drinks are one of the biggest parts of the holiday season. I always make sure to have coffee, hot chocolate, and some seasonal teas in my pantry cabinets for those chilly days. I also usually keep a cup of candy canes near the front door to hand out to carolers- the kids love it and it's a nice "thank you" for their cheerful songs. Last year I crushed up the leftover candy canes to make peppermint bark to take to Christmas dinner.
3) Do some good. It's SO easy to get caught up in the stress and commercialism of the holidays, and to only focus on making the perfect Christmas for you and your family. Take a break throughout the season to do a good deed or something for others. Bake an extra batch of cookies for your neighbor. Every time you run to the store, buy a few extra cans of food to donate...it seems like every store around here has donation boxes. Put a dollar in the Salvation Army buckets whenever you walk by one. Adopt a kid to give them a better Christmas. Don't know any kids? Check out this. Go volunteer at a community kitchen or the humane society, or pack up goody boxes for soldiers overseas. Donate blood to help with holiday accidents. There are SO many volunteer opportunities at this time of year, and I look forward to getting the kids out to volunteer during the holidays to teach them that it's not all about the toys.
4) Make a good music playlist. I adore Christmas music and have a lot of fun every year making a 3 or 4 hour playlist with my favorite songs, and finding some new ones! I also like the XM Christmas stations if I'm out driving around but I prefer being able to control the list myself, especially if people are over and I have it playing in the background.
5) Keep a running list throughout the year of gift ideas. I know a lot of people more organized than myself actually buy their presents throughout the year and that's probably a good way of doing it, but I've had success just keeping an email draft of gift ideas. That way I can still check with my recipients as to what they actually want, and I still have gift ideas as a backup if they don't have anything specific that they want. I can also usually find everything on sale this time of year, and I don't run into the problem of forgetting that I've already bought something and buy twice!!
Anna's first Santa picture...she was a lot more interested in Mrs. Claus than she was in looking at the camera, but she's only 2.5 months old...I guess I can't complain! I'm just glad she wasn't crying, haha. I absolutely adore the fact that she's holding on to Santa's finger!