At this time of year, making sure everyone—including you—is having fun can be, well, the opposite of fun. Here are our tips for getting through the festive season.
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1. Make unlosable lists. You’re far more likely to get it all done if you write down important holiday tasks and set to-do-by dates. To keep your checklist close at hand, use a smartphone app such as Todoist, Wunderlist, Google Keep or Remember the Milk.
2. Ditch the paper. Wrapping presents takes forever. Gift bags, on the other hand, are fast to fill, not to mention cheap, easy and reusable. Stock up on gift bags and sticky bows in solid colours at a dollar store.
3. Plan meals to the minute. Preparing a feast for a crowd calls for super-scheduling—especially that last half-hour, when you’re trying to simultaneously carve the roast, simmer the gravy and mash the spuds. Write out a minute-by-minute schedule, pin it to the fridge and set timers on your phone so you’re not doing frantic cooking math on Christmas Day.
4. Take shopping leave. Book one day off work to zip around town and do your gift shopping without having to stand in line or battle weekend crowds. You could also use that day to shop online from your sofa—and then binge-watch your fave Netflix show with the hours saved—for an even more relaxing retail experience.
5. Alternate between families. If you spend more time stressing on the highway than chilling in front of the fire, you’re doing holidays wrong. Rather than trying to visit all your extended family members every festive season, alternate from one year to the next for quality time.
6. Fudge your dates. Late December and early January are peak air travel times, so they’re exceptionally hectic and expensive. If your kids are not in school yet, why not hold off long-distance visits to relatives for a month or two and keep the actual holidays low-key at home? Bonus: You can save cash on gifts,, too, by waiting for the best deals at the Boxing Day sales.
7. Buy a light projector. Instead of spending hours draping string lights, spend minutes setting up a laser light projector. It will project thousands of twinkling lights or snowflakes—instant holiday vibes!
8. Step outside and look at the stars. Nature is so grounding. The Milky Way, falling snow, frost-tipped grass—sneak out of the house and absorb their soothing powers when you need to escape the holiday stress.
9. Reinvent gifting traditions. Buying gifts for every single family member can stop making sense when people start having kids. Suggest a Secret Santa or set a cut-off age for prezzies. Most of the other grown-ups will likely breathe sighs of relief.
10. Invest in spares. Pick up extra crowd-pleasing gifts—think chocolates, gift cards, wine and cozy mitts or socks—to eliminate last-minute shopping.