25 Ways To Hack Your Holidays

The Holiday Season is surely upon us, and with all the merry making, it’s easy to get worn out or stressed over the extra things to do, stuf...

The Holiday Season is surely upon us, and with all the merry making, it’s easy to get worn out or stressed over the extra things to do, stuff to bake, and people to see. While we are in no way disparaging the holiday joy or those who revel in all things Christmas-y perfection, we are trying to be realistic; the standards set for Holiday Perfection by the media (and sometimes, ourselves) keep going up, and without realizing it, we can slip a little more into Lucy Van Pelt instead of Linus, losing the true meaning of the Holidays (whatever that is to you and yours).

To help you chill out, cut down on your to do list (and hopefully stress), and focus on the good stuff, here are 25 Ways To Hack Your Holidays.


Make a Holiday Playlist.


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No, not the local soft rock station that inevitably turns into 24/7 Christmas music. Make a playlist of Christmas music YOU like, and it doesn’t have to all be “Christmas” music, either; just tunes that make you feel Merry & Bright. Listening to good music lowers stress hormones and your blood pressure, so if cranking up Queen gets you in the Holiday Spirit, rock on.


Use a garment bag for creative storage


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Speaking of having all your stuff together, keep your wrapping paper and all assorted wrapping bits together by hanging them in a clear plastic garment bag, then just hang the bag in the closet.


Make gift tags out of old or free paint chips


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Use a cookie cutter to draw the design on the back, cut it out, punch a hole in the top, and you look quite fancy.


Prep and cut ahead of time


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If you’re making a big holiday meal, chop things the day or several days before, label it, and chuck it in the fridge. Imagine cooking on Thanksgiving or Christmas without having to get out a cutting board.


Make mulled wine for the taste and smell


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Make mulled wine (or cider, if you want a non-alcoholic version) in your crock pot. Wine, sugar, spices, oranges, and a crock pot. Your house will smell AMAZING for your party (or yourself. We aren’t judging.)


Request Gift Wrapping.


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A lot of places – including some online retailers – will offer it for free, but come the holiday season, many malls have stations set up that will have volunteers wrapping gifts for $1 each. Do it. If you’re at the mall, get yourself a latte and a cookie, and pay teenagers or the department store to wrap Christmas presents.


Use the 30 minute rule if you have guests coming over


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What’s the 30 minute rule? Don’t do anything as far as cleaning or preparing the house that will take more than 30 minutes. No one expects perfection; they’re coming to your home to see YOU and your family, not your floors. (Also, please note that if you’re having a party, unless your floors are gross, don’t mop them. You’ll have to do it the next day after the party anyway.)


Decide to keep or toss family traditions


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If you have a costly, time consuming family tradition that no one in your family does out of any reason but “IT’S TRADITION,” why are you wasting your precious holiday time and energy on it? Presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Afternoon so everyone can sleep in? Yes, that’s acceptable. The Universe has given permission.


Send out of town guests to a hotel


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You are not a hotel. If you’re a single person, this might be a different, or if it’s just, say, your sister. But your sister and brother-in-law and their four kids and twin dalmatians? Point them to the best cheap, close hotel. It’s not making you a bad host; it’s establishing boundaries so everyone can enjoy the time they have together instead of being stressed out and resentful at the end of your visit.


Make a game plan when shopping


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If you’re going to the mall, particularly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, try if at all possible to go on a weekday and know what stores you specifically need to stop in and make a map. A map, a list, a plan. It can be the difference between leaving feeling accomplished or leaving four hours later somewhat less..er..merry and bright.


Make fancy party ice


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You know what makes you look like you have all your stuff together? Fancy party ice. I mean, if you can make fancy party ice, you’ve clearly got your closets organized and socks matched, right? So make fancy party ice with cranberries in it. It’s also really tasty if you’re into flavored water to add cranberries and lemons. So fancy, so easy.


If you’re looking for more easy and crafty, check out numbers 9 & 8!


Make whatever you can ahead of time


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Cookie dough (can be frozen), pie dough or filling (can be frozen) macaroni and cheese (can be frozen). Heck, you can just make double batches of some dinners and freeze half so you have a home cooked meal without prep. This cuts down on your stress on busy days or the day of an event.


Share hosting responsibilities with a friend


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With so many holiday parties and get-togethers, see if you can combine some gatherings or at least share the load with someone else.


Make room for quality time


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If you have a significant other, make sure to set aside time for just the two of you. Not the two of you at a party, not you and the kids, just the two of you. It will make both of you happy and help with that warm and fuzzy in-love-at-Christmastime vibe.


Re-purpose hangers


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Store Christmas lights on a hangar for easy storage and no tangles.


Make use of a carrier


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Call and have your package carrier of choice pick up your items at home. The United States Postal Service will do this, as will UPS, so take advantage.


Use what you have to make a beautiful table.


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Yes, we all could and would love to set the perfect table from the Crate And Sonoma Barn catalog, but those cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. A wide (not favorite because food) scarf can be a table runner, decorations that didn’t fit on the tree or mantle can be a centerpiece, ribbons can be napkin rings, heck, even branches trimmed from the bottom of your tree can make a lovely and simple centerpiece. Get creative.


Find new ways to use cookie cutters


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Make fancy Christmas shaped pancakes with metal cookie cutters. It’s festive, and you probably already own cookie cutters!


Order things online


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This might seem obvious, but it expands beyond ordering gifts on Amazon.com to even your groceries or common items. Vitacost and Thrive both sell eco-friendly cleaning supplies and pantry staples; Walmart does call ahead grocery shopping that they’ll bring out to your car when you get there, and most target stores allow you to purchase items (only non-perishable) for pick up, so instead of a 20 minute schlepp through the store filled with people, you just walk to customer service, grab your goods and go home. Retailers want to do the work for you, so let them.


If you have pets or small children, anchor your Christmas Tree to the wall


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It’s safer and saves the possible frustration of having to clean up an entire Christmas tree.


Get help from photos


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This is more of an all the time hack, but particularly with parties/baking/cooking around the holidays – take a picture of your fridge and cabinet before you leave for the store. Don’t know if you’re almost out of X or if you bought a box two days ago? Check the picture.


Don't say yes to everything


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Be picky about what you volunteer to do so you can make time for what’s most important to you and still be flexible if needed.


Remove some packaging


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If you’re wrapping gifts for your own child(ren), go ahead and remove the frustrating packaging before wrapping the gift. They won’t care, and there won’t be the frustration of a hyper child waiting for mommy and daddy to get the thing out of the box.


Use paper plates.


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Get the fancy Chinet ones if you wish, but if you’re hosting a Holiday meal, just…use paper plates. You know who says, “I look forward to doing the dishes after dinner!” No one, that’s who.


Good Enough Is GREAT


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If you’re the kind of person who wants to hand decorate a dozen cookies for everyone you know, decorate the house magazine perfect, cook holiday meals from scratch, AND you work and/or have children, lower your expectations a little. The holidays are about people, and people – the people you love – will enjoy holidays with a less stressed out you. Be in the moment, enjoy the moment. Ugly cookies are okay.

Source: TheList25


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