Guest post by Carrie.

Are you a mom that looks forward to the holidays with excitement, or stress and anxiety thinking of everything you need to do? 

Follow these easy tips to help you best manage the holidays, and still be mindful of the true meaning of the season:

1. Create A Holiday Priority List

Jot down everything you normally do and want to do this holiday season. Include friends and family you plan to visit,
baking and cooking menus, religious, school and work events, shopping plans, family excursions etc.

Now prioritize your list. Put a letter next to each item: (P) for top priority things you must do, (T) for activities you

would like to do if you have the time available, and (B) for bah humbug activities that you would really like to skip this year.
Take a close look at your list. Before you finalize your plans, set realistic goals for yourself. What’s important to you
and your immediate family? Are you about to overextend yourself again this year? Would you like to decline some events, but you don’t want to be the one to “break” tradition?  Be fair to yourself when you create your holiday to do list. Value yourself and your family by setting realistic expectations.  

Once you finalize your list, set goal dates for accomplishing your tasks. For example, if you want to avoid last minute gift wrapping, give yourself a deadline for shopping and wrapping presents.

2. Change Can be a Good Thing During the Holidays

Who says your family needs to do the same ‘ol, same ‘ol year after year? Tradition is terrific, but if it causes you stress (i.e., visiting several families on Christmas Eve or exchanging gifts with friends when you really don’t have the funds for it), it’s time to make a change. Do yourself and your family a favor–eliminate the unnecessary activities.

3. Stick to a Holiday Budget & Shop Early

The holidays can be a tricky time of year for our pocketbooks and between spouses. Be wise and stretch your
family dollars by planning ahead. Begin by writing down everyone on your gift list. Next to each name, pencil a dollar
amount on what you would like to spend on each present. Also, include gift ideas for each recipient (don’t be afraid to ask for gift suggestions). Do your plans match your budget? If not, readjust. The best reason to make a holiday gift budget is you lessen the temptation and stress of overspending the sooner you create one.

Start shopping early (it’s the pits walking up and down the mall on Dec. 24 not knowing what to buy).

Read Sunday newspaper ads and check online websites for special deals. You don’t need to wait until after Thanksgiving to find sales. This year, many stores are eager now to entice shoppers with special promotions, but be careful purchasing gift cards.  Many have expiration dates or special restrictions attached.

Save money by making homemade presents such as tree ornaments, decorated picture frames with family photos
inserted, or herb infused pillow sachets. My favorite homemade gifts are delicious baked goods. Wrapped in holiday tissue paper with a lovely greeting card, homemade gifts come straight from the heart. 

Carrie Jones is the creator/co-owner of Mama Likes It Easy and a busy mom of three boys ages 9, 14 & 16. Her online store retails mom smart day planners and fabulous holiday gift ideas.

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