Christmas can be a time of excitement, fun and happiness, but it can also be busy and stressful. There are cards to mail, presents to wrap, food to cook, places to go, things to clean…and the list goes on and on. To help reduce some of that stress and chaos, try these 7 tips to help make Christmas a little bit easier this year:
1.Make your Christmas cookies ahead of time
I love this tip, mostly because I love cookies, but also because it saves a bunch of time; win-win! This is actually something I do almost every time I make a batch of cookies, not just at Christmas time. I make my cookie dough like I normally would, but instead of baking all of the cookies, I freeze some. I found that the best way to do this is to scoop out your cookie dough like usual onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Since you are not baking this tray of cookies you can put the scoops of dough close together so that you can fit as many cookies as you can on there!
Once you have your baking sheet filled with scoops of uncooked cookie dough, just place the whole thing in your freezer for an hour or so. You are simply flash freezing them so that they are no longer sticky or smoshy (is that even a real word?!). That way when you place them all in a plastic freezer bag or other container, they will not stick together. Once they are all packaged up, label them with the baking instructions (temperature and how long to cook for) and pop ’em in the freezer. Easy peasy right?!
And now whenever you need freshly baked cookies for a party (or if you’re like me and just like having your own supply of cookies ready at any given moment!) all you have to do is take out as many frozen balls of cookie dough as you need and bake them like normal. I never thaw my dough out before baking, except for the time they sit on the cookie sheet while the oven is preheating, and they come out great. For some cookie recipes I have found that I will need to add a couple of extra minutes to the baking time, but just check often during those last few minutes of baking to see how the cookies look.
See, isn’t this easy! I love this tip because it saves so much time! You get all of ingredients out at the same time, have only one mess to clean up, and end up with a big batch (or two!) of cookie dough. Cook some off that day and freeze the rest for later! This is especially helpful around Christmas because you can make several kinds of cookie dough ahead of time, when things aren’t so hectic, and simply take out as many of each kind as you want and bake them right before your party; boom, freshly baked homemade cookies without all the mess and stress! Now I bet you can see why this is one of my favorite tips!
2. Make a list (and check it twice!)
It is helpful to keep a master list of everything you typically do around the holiday season each year. It may not be the exact same year after year, but a basic to-do list that can be added to as needed is useful in helping you plan your time. Things on your list could include getting stamps, getting your Christmas cards, ordering Christmas gifts, mailing gifts and cards, and making a list of food to have at any parties you might be attending or hosting.
3.Keep a Christmas card list
Along the lines of the idea above, keeping a master list of all of the people who you hand out or mail cards to every year can be a time saver. I keep one list of people I mail cards to (along with their address) and another list of people who I hand deliver cards to. I can always add to or take away names from the list, but this saves me from having to re-make the entire list every year, and avoids the problem of possibly forgetting someone (not that I am speaking from experience or anything!).
4.Print your own mailing labels
For the people you mail cards to every year (which you can easily find because of that list you made in #3!), put their addresses into whatever computer program you use, and print them off on blank mailing labels. This saves you time by not having to write out each address; just peel and stick! But you can also save these labels on your computer and print them off again year after year. If any of the names or addresses change you can simply go in, edit, save, and print them, and you’ll be ready to go!
5.Keep an ongoing gift list
I like to always keep an ear open when people are talking, to hear what they may like as a gift. I think, “Wow, I will have to remember that when it’s Christmas (or their birthday)” but guess what? Most of the time I forget what that perfect gift idea was and then find myself trying to think of what it was, or what else I could get them instead.
So now I keep an ongoing list of gift ideas for the people I typically buy presents for. When I hear them mention something that they could use or would like, I write it on my list. I may never end up buying them that item, but at least it gives me a designated place to write gift ideas down at and a spot to refer back to when it comes time to shop for each person.
This is the printable that I use to write down future gift ideas. You can download it for free here or by clicking on the picture below!
6. Shop online!
And speaking of shopping…I know this is a simple one that you probably already do, but it is still worth mentioning. In addition to shopping your local stores, buying gifts online can be a time saver. And sometimes it can even be a money saver as well if you can find a good sale and free shipping. It saves you money on gas, and time driving to and from the store, going up and down the aisles and waiting in line. I prefer to shop from the couch in my jammies, but maybe that’s just me!
For parents this is not only a time and money saver, but a lifesaver as well! My children are always with me so trying to buy them gifts when we go shopping is next to impossible. They notice EVERYTHING that goes into the cart, so trying to smuggle a gift or two in each trip is a waste of time…it does not work! Even if by some miracle I was quick and sneaky enough to get it hidden under the diapers and toilet paper in the cart, when I get to the register some sweet, well meaning cashier points out how fun this toy or that toy looks; busted! So needless to say, I now shop mostly online!
7. Elf on the Shelf cheat sheet
I know that for some of you this tip won’t be helpful, but I wanted to include it for those of you whose children are obsessed with Elf on the Shelf like mine are! My kids love Odo, our elf, and truly look forward to his visit every December. Our elf just does silly things or hides in new places everyday, so there is usually not much creativity involved on my part, phew! However, I was still finding myself stuck many nights as to what Odo would do or where he would go.
So last year I wrote down a list of places our elf could hide and the silly, fun things he could be doing. I saved the list so I could refer back to it when I was stuck for ideas (or when I was too tired to be creative, or when I realized in the middle of the night that I forgot to move the thing!). I definitely get a lot of use out of my handy dandy elf cheat sheet!
I know that Christmas can sometimes be stressful and hectic, but it is also a time of joy. I hope that these 7 tips have given you some new ways to make your own Christmas a little bit easier this year! Do you have any other tips to add to this list? I would love to hear them; anything I can do to make life easier is a win in my book!