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Today, it is less than two months, until CHRISTMAS! If you are Jewish, Hanukkah begins on December 11th at sun down in 50 days!

If you celebrate holidays, now is the time to prepare because the holiday season is just around the corner! If you are like me, you sincerely want to send out your X-Mas cards on time, but somehow, year after year, you barely finished addressing each card to discover that you are falling behind schedule, again!

Do you dread the holidays? Do you find yourself overwhelmed because the approaching holidays are stressful and there is so much to accomplish? Do you wish that you had a magic wand to instantly take care of your Christmas shopping, baking and wrapping? If ONLY the holiday season were that simple!

If the holiday season has you feeling more DISTRESSED than joyful, here is a step by step guide to help make your holiday season shine bright:

1) MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT MORE THAN TWICE: Before November begins, force yourself to sit down to make a logical and simple list of the top priorities for the approaching holiday season.

2) Have one list called THANKSGIVING and the other list called CHRISTMAS or HANUKKAH.

3) BEGINNING WITH THANKSGIVING: Plan on how you are going to celebrate this holiday. For example, are you planning on cooking a Thanksgiving dinner at your home or will you be spending Thanksgiving with family or friends?

4) CHRISTMAS/HANUKKAH LIST: Always consider your budget BEFORE planning! Do not allow yourself to go on an impulsive shopping spree or overspend what you can not afford. Before November, begin writing a logical list of your top priorities for Christmas/Hanukkah. Less is best!

5) SHOPPING IDEA‘S: Consider what method of shopping will provide the LEAST amount of time, thought, expense and energy? For example, if shopping over the internet is easier and less stressful, rather then standing in long lines at the local mall, write 2-3 websites on your list to order X-Mas gifts.

6) SHIPPING & HANDLING: Due to the holiday season, you will need to consider the time involved with shipping and handling to be sure that your friends and family receive their gifts on time. All ordering online or over the telephone should be completed before December 1st to stay on task.  

7) VERY IMPORTANT: What expectations do you have of yourself or others this holiday season ? If you need someones assistance in staying organized then be upfront, tactful and open about your needs in advance. Do not be afraid to ask for help or put off discussing important issues involving the approaching holidays.

8) DELEGATE BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS: If you have children, teenagers or grown adult children, consider recruiting them to pitch in and help with the preparations and clean up! Also, if you are planning on spending the holidays with a relatives, delegate responsibilities so LESS stress is placed solely on you or your kids!

9) HOLIDAY RECRUITING TIP: The MORE help you have in advance + LESS stress = A MUCH merrier holiday!

10) THE DREADED CHRISTMAS CARDS: Be realistic when it comes to Christmas cards. Here is a guideline for consideration.

A) DO NOT SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS THIS YEAR. I am not kidding......If this truly takes a huge amount of pressure, frustration, financial burden and stress off of your shoulder, I personally think that with the poor state of the economy, you may be able to get away with skipping this over-rated holiday tradition! Hey, if nothing else, blame it on the poor economy!

B) ONLY SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS TO IMPORTANT PEOPLE. If the pressure to send X-Mas cards is very intense, consider sending cards to the MOST important people, such as your boss, your in-laws, your best friend and your far away cousin who is alone for the holidays. Keep your list to a minimum of 5-10 individuals and stick to this list!

C) LIMIT CHRISTMAS CARD LIST: Instead of going overboard and sending out 25 or more Christmas cards, limit your list to only 15. Cut back by examining your list of names....Be realistic and use good common sense when deciding on who to mail Christmas cards.  For example, is it really necessary to send a Christmas card to your neighbors? For crying out loud, they live next door to you and you practically run into them every single day!  

11) THE HOLIDAY SCROOGE: By now, I may sound like a miserly scrooge, but the truth of the matter is that I LOVE the holidays, especially Christmas! Yet, I know that as a FABULOUS “40ISH” female that I sincerely want to magically turn into “Wonder Woman” for the entire month of December to manage the hectic, fast pace of the holiday season!

12) BAKING CHRISTMAS COOKIES/DESSERTS: Baking can be much fun, but it takes much time, energy, money, concentration, ability to follow directions and the ability to juggle many tasks at one time. Keeping that in mind, determine if you want to bake Christmas cookies/desserts, write a short list of which items to make and highlight the necessary ingredients that must be purchased BEFORE baking.

If baking is not your niche, consider these options to SIMPLIFY the holiday season:

A) DO NOT BAKE THIS YEAR. (Once again, blame it on the poor economy or say that you are on a strict diet!)

B) ONLY BAKE A MINIMUM OF 2-3 TYPES OF DESSERTS OR COOKIES. Baking LESS will take the stress, pressure and expense off the actual job and this may help you enjoy it more!

C) RECRUIT HELPERS! Do your teenage neighbor girls love to bake? Consider asking them to help you make homemade cookies. You will not only be teaching them a valuable skill, but you will promote socialization and the holiday spirit! (“FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LAAAAA!“)

D) GO TO THE BAKERY: Save time, sanity and energy by simply purchasing Christmas cookies or desserts at a local bakery, Sam’s Club or a discount grocery store. Whether they are homemade or store bought, everyone loves desserts!

13) WRAPPING HOLIDAY GIFTS: This is one task that can make or break your holiday season. Trust me, I learned the hard way by procrastinating and I had to stay up way too late on Christmas Eve to finish the ENDLESS chore of gift wrapping! (GRRRRR!)

14) One helpful hint is to RECRUIT for gift wrapping! My 14 year old daughter loves to wrap gifts and I guarantee you, I will be delegating some of the gift wrapping to her! Another idea is to purchase holiday gift bags with tissue paper in advance. Using colorful holiday bags is a quick and festive way to package a gift!

15) HOLIDAY GIFT WRAP TIP: Instead of spending hours in front of the TV watching your favorite shows, plan on wrapping gifts at the same time. If multi-tasking challenges you, wrap gifts during the commercials. The sooner you get the wrapping completed, the sooner you can BEGIN TO ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS!



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