Happy New Year, everyone!
Now that the trees have started to come down and we’re all talking about resolutions and setting goals, I’d like to backtrack for a second and talk about how to avoid holiday stress next year.
Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE the holidays. I can’t get enough of Bing Crosby, staring at our Christmas tree, and watching Elf in my PJs. I cherish every piece of snail mail, and I’m grateful for time spent with my family in Texas and Kansas.
But December is SO stressful – am I right?!
Every year, it seems like no matter how much I promise myself it will be different this time, I fall into the same habits. Every year, my to-do list stretches up until the moment before Christmas. I find myself writing all of my holiday cards, buying presents, and wrapping up last-minute business tasks right up until Christmas Eve.
2017 will be the year that those habits change!
This year I’m planning ahead to make sure that come Thanksgiving, I can relax and make the most of the beauty in the holiday season. And I also have some tips for you to help you enjoy that same peace!
Here are my top 10 tips for getting the most out of next year’s holiday season:
1) Try a gift registry.
Stop guessing what to give your crazy Uncle Pete, and invite your whole family to a group gift registry! Giftster is an awesome website that allows you to give (and get) exactly what everyone wants!
2) Don’t wait in line for Santa!
Waiting in line to visit Santa at the mall is no fun! After you’ve finally made it up to the front, your child will probably be bored/tired, and then he or she will be rushed in and out of Santa’s lap. Make it an experience instead! Consider attending breakfast with Santa, or book an appointment for our Santa Sessions at the end of November. These short meetings with Santa feature minimal waiting, a custom set, and a very jolly Santa! Check out our images from 2016’s Santa Sessions!
Santa is already scheduled for a visit this year, too! Mark your calendars for December 2nd, and be sure to sign up for our studio newsletter so that you’ll have first dibs on a spot!
3) Have your tree delivered.
If your family has made a tradition of going to cut down your own tree, I’m definitely not going to stand in your way! But if that’s not a requirement for you, try having someone else bring the holiday spirit to you.
Last year I was sick on Thanksgiving, but I was determined to get our tree up anyway. So I ordered one from Whole Foods and had it delivered with the Favor delivery app! It was pretty magical…within 30 minutes of placing the order, we had a gorgeous Christmas tree in our apartment for only $60, including the tree, delivery, and driver tip!
4) Hack your holiday cards!
Here are a few tips to make these less of a chore:
• Instead of addressing your card envelopes by hand, try having the addresses pre-printed on the outside. My favorite holiday card company, Minted, lets you upload an address spreadsheet. From there, you can choose an address format that matches the design of your holiday cards, and then your envelopes will arrive ready to roll! You can use the time you save to write personalized messages to family and friends inside your cards, which is the part that actually matters!
• Collect addresses painlessly with Google Forms. Send out your survey to your family and friends, and then they fill out their address information. Google will automatically put the addresses into spreadsheet format for you, and you’ll have them all in one place! See instructions here.
• Take your number of total cards to write and divide that number by 30 days (which is how much time you have, because you followed the holiday photo schedule above, right? ;)) Then spend your commuting time/customer service waiting time/kids’ appointment time etc. to write a few at a time. If you have 100 cards to write, it’s way less bad to write 3 every day than to cram them all into that last week before Christmas!
5) Get your holiday photos taken early!
I couldn’t resist throwing one photography-related tip in here! This is the single best piece of advice I can offer my clients for their holiday cards.
Here are several reasons that it makes sense to get your family photos taken early:
• It’s less expensive! Many photographers charge higher rates and/or rush fees in November and December because of high volume and quick turnaround times before Christmas.
• Your photographer will have more energy and time to dedicate to you. Did you know that many family photographers complete over half of their yearly sessions in the three months before Christmas? This means that by December, we’re pretty exhausted!
• Warmer weather = happier kiddos. You can still wear cute fall clothes in September, but you won’t have to worry about your toddler melting down in freezing wind. Children under two years should be photographed by October at the latest, unless you’re planning on having photos taken inside your home.
• Scheduling earlier in the year gives you more time to reschedule if it rains. This is a big one! Although I always hope for sunshine, Mother Nature sometimes has other plans. It’s best to build in an extra month in case we need to reschedule once (or even twice).
• You’ll have more time to create your holiday cards and gifts! Here’s a recommended timeline:
I even made things easy for you and created a reminder to schedule your family photos in Google Calendar! Add it to your calendar through this link!
PS: There’s no rule that says that you HAVE to send your annual cards in December! If cards slipped your mind this year, it’s not too late for New Year’s cards. I adore this super cute design from Minted. One of my clients chooses a different holiday every year — this year, she made the cutest Halloween cards! I think Valentine’s cards would work really well, too!
6) Skip hosting a holiday party this year.
Rather than compete with everyone else’s holiday parties, why not save your Martha Stewart skills for a season when more people have time to appreciate them? Personally, I would LOVE to attend parties in March to get me out of winter hibernation mode…just sayin’! 😉 There is no hard and fast rule that you must host a holiday party, UNLESS it brings you a lot of joy to do so. If you’ve been spending more time prepping the mulled wine than drinking it, maybe 2017 is the year to let someone else make it instead.
7) Buy experiences, not things.
Living in our little 450-square-foot apartment in Boston has taught me to avoid buying things that take up more space! Instead, my husband and I prefer to spend money on experiences that give us happy memories (i.e. date nights, dining out, and traveling).
I have a hunch that clutter plagues a lot of people besides us, so this year, try requesting and giving gifts that don’t take up extra space. If your relatives insist on giving items, try something that can be used up (I am a huge fan of candles!).
8) Prepare for the takedown before the assembly.
Man, did I learn that lesson this year. For the second year in a row, we had a live Christmas tree. It brought us so much joy — that is, until it was time to take it down. Despite our best efforts to wrap up the branches, we ended up knocking down picture frames and spreading pine needles EVERYWHERE. Friends who follow me on Instagram Stories might remember what I’m talking about…it was an absolute disaster!
So this year, I’ve planned ahead and bought a tarp and pruning shears to strip our 2017 tree down BEFORE we take it out to be recycled.
I also purchased a couple of large storage bins to hold all of our Christmas decorations together in one place so that come Thanksgiving, we don’t have to hunt for lots of little boxes.
9) Take care of your health in the months leading up to December.
The stress of the holidays + the beginning of cold/flu season = the perfect storm for you to be sick during the holidays. So many of my friends and family were sick this past December — and I was sick TWICE in one month! Seriously?! This year, I’m setting reminders to sleep more and get on my yoga mat in November, so that I can avoid that post-stress-letdown illness in December.
10) You alone have the power to make the holidays enjoyable.
This year, I learned that I don’t need to do things just because of tradition. For instance, E and I were a bit stressed out trying to visit both of our families across the country in one week, so next year we’re planning to split up for part of the week to maximize time spent with our own families. We don’t have to do things a certain way JUST because they’re traditions or because someone else said that it had to be that way. I want to get back to the heart of the holiday season: peace, goodwill, and quality time. And I have a great feeling that 2017 just might be the year to make that happen.
Happy 2017, friends!
PS: If you missed KLP’s 2016 year in review, head over here to check it out!