1. Make a list, and check it twice. I am a list maker by nature, and I always find that seeing everything I need to accomplish on paper helps me feel that things are much more manageable. During the holidays, I actually make a master list to include everything I need to do over the course of December, and then a small list each day of the individual tasks I want to get done. In the master list, I separate things out into sections for gifts, cards, cooking, etc., and I always make sure to leave enough room to check things off as I get them done! There is something so incredibly gratifying about marking something off once it's complete!
2. Label it! Print off labels to address your holiday cards instead of doing them by hand. You'll have to create a spreadsheet or something similar the first time you go this route, but once it's done, you'll be able to revise it as needed and use it year after year. What a time-saver! I am a traditionalist in the sense that I do think there are still plenty of times when hand-written addresses are the way to go, but I always cut myself some slack at Christmas when I know all of my card recipients won't mind in the slightest!
3. Let your fingers do the shopping. Of all of my best time-savers, online shopping is the one I credit most with preserving my sanity. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, don your favorite pair of pajamas and some fuzzy slippers, and relish the idea that you are whittling down your gift list from the comfort of your living room! There are no lines to contend with, and you can shop at any hour of the day. It's perfect!
4. Freeze! Look at your list cooking list, and consider which things you can make a few weeks ahead and freeze. Things like cookies, bars and some candies are perfect for this.
5. Keep it clean. The last thing on your mind is probably housework when you have so much more going on, but one thing I vow will make you life so much easier is to make it a goal to do a little bit of cleaning each day in order to keep your home in shape for unexpected visitors, which always seem to inevitably appear at your door when you are least prepared! Avoid the stress of last-minute scrambling to welcome them in by making sure that at least the big, more noticeable cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, your guest bathroom) is taken care of. You will be amazed at the dividends just a small amount of tidying each day will pay!
6. Get moving! Whether its raking leaves, heading to the gym, walking an extra lap around the mall as you shop, or parking a bit further than you usually would in store parking lots, getting on your feet to get some exercise will do wonders to reduce your stress level. And it'll burn calories, too, which is always welcome at a time of year when tasty goodies are never far from reach!
7. Don't forget to take a time out! At least once during the holiday season, take a breather. Go for a pedicure or get a haircut. Go to the bookstore to thumb through magazines you like. Go to a movie. Just do something that allows you to recharge you batteries so you can tackle the next thing on your list with gusto!