It's that time of year again. While the radio might be claiming that it's the most wonderful time of the year, general morale might be humming a different tune. Truthfully, between the cooking, the planning, the shopping, the wrapping, the overtime at the office, and the holiday parties and events to attend, most people are tired out before the holidays even land.
No, the holidays are anything but merry for most of us...that is unless you know how to trick the system. Intrigued? We know you are. So, here are some insanely smart and ridiculously simple life hacks to help you (and everyone around you) survive the holiday season in style.
Hack #1: Delegate!
While everyone wants to feel like the superman of the holiday seasons who is faster than a speeding oven timer, able to leap tall crowds in a single mall, and more powerful than a group of awkward relatives in close proximity, the truth is that no one can get everything done single-handedly.
Instead of burning out trying to do it all, hand out tasks that don’t NEED to be handled by you specifically. Delegate side dishes, desserts, or salads for that big holiday party you’re hosting. Ask someone else to wrap the presents under the tree. Or get someone else to drive carpool while you’re picking up the holiday favors.
Hack #2: Be Freezer-Friendly
We all want to serve our meals piping hot out of the oven. But nobody has to know that that meal was prepared two weeks in advance. Choose a menu that's freezer-friendly, and save yourself a lot of headaches by cooking in advance. Soups, muffins, and other dough-based foods and casseroles all taste just as good out of the freezer. And meat actually tastes better after it's been cooked, sliced, and allowed to marinate in the sauce in the freezer for a few days.
For other foods like chicken that you want to be fresher, you can clean, marinate, and freeze ready to cook. That way, you can just stick it in the oven and not have to deal with prep and clean up during crunch time.
Hack #3: Start a Holiday Fund
Gone over the holiday budget...again? It's a common occurrence right around this time of the year, with so much to buy, overpriced holiday gear, and so little headspace to start making calculations. If you notice that you run out of funds before the holidays arrive each year, maybe it would help to start a holiday fund. This can be a regular sum of money you put away each week during the year. Or it could be a jar that you toss your change into at the end of each day. Whichever system works best for you, you'll end up with a lot more spending flexibility and a lot less stress come holiday time.
Hack #4: Talk It Out
Sometimes, when stress levels get too high, all we really need is to let off some steam. After we’ve had our big blowup, we can get back to the regularly scheduled chaos with ease. So, whether it’s texting your bestie, moaning to your mom, or fleshing things out with your online therapist, grab a shoulder to cry on and let it all out.
Hack #5: Get Organized
With lots of people around, routines being turned upside down, and life taking a break from normalcy, the last thing you need to deal with is a cluttered home as well. Before the holiday madness rushes in, take a few hours to organize your home. Get rid of summer baggage, throw out things you’ve been holding onto for no reason, and make some space in the closet for any sleepover guests you might be having.
Hack #6: Store Holiday Paraphernalia Smartly
While this might be Monday morning quarterbacking, it’s a tip that’ll help next holiday season run a lot smoother. Instead of tossing all of those decorations, packaging supplies, and other holiday goodies into a box to be detangled next year at this time, save yourself a headache by packing things away in an organized fashion. Use toilet paper holders to keep tinsel from tangling, egg cartons or beer cups to store tree decorations, and hangers to string holiday lights neatly. Then next year, you can spend a fraction of the time unpacking your holiday gear.
Hack #7: Make a List and Check It Twice
Hey, if it’s good enough for Santa...Seriously, though. You can save yourself countless trips back to the supermarket by making a thorough list before you go. Create your menu, look up your recipes, and then make a list based on that menu. Also, put non-food related items on the list, including wrapping supplies, extra toiletries, and paper goods. This way, you’ll get everything you need the first time around.
Be sure to check the pantry before you put something on the list, so you aren’t stuck buying another bottle of chimichurri sauce that you’ll use one tablespoon of and then have it sit in the back of your fridge for the next six months.
List making will also help you get organized. Make a list of how many guests you’re having for the holiday meals, who you’re buying gifts for, and who is making what. Lists just make everything better.
Hack #8: Take Care of Yourself
We know, what a joke. With all that’s on your plate, who has time to think about themselves? But this is actually the best way to ensure that you maintain your sanity throughout this busy season. Whether it’s keeping up with your regular diet routine, cooking in advance so that you have healthy meal options to fall back on in a pinch, or even indulging in a spa treatment to reduce the stress levels, taking care of yourself will do wonders for your holiday spirit.
Hack #9: Prepare in Advance
It may seem obvious, but oh too often, we leave everything to the last minute. And that certainly doesn't do much for our morale come the holidays. Instead, see what you can do in advance, and then do it! Make a list and write out your Christmas cards, buy generic gifts for people like the mailman, a co-worker, or neighbors you're not really close with, and put together your holiday menu weeks before the holiday rush. This way, you will have more time to focus on the things that can only be done last minute.
Hack #10: Learn to Laugh
Most of all, though, the best way to keep holiday stress levels from mounting is by adding a healthy helping of laughter to your daily diet. Whether it's a joke a day email or a funny movie night out with friends, build laughter into your routine. It'll lighten the mood, make you smile, lower stress levels, and actually help you cope with everything a lot better.
Holidays Coming? You Got This!
Ready to get into the holiday spirit? While you might not be Frosty, the adorable snowman, using these smart holiday season life hacks will certainly keep you from turning into the grinch! Happy holidays to all!