Tips For a Successful Holiday Season! (Guest Post)
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the holidays, never having enough time to enjoy the season, consider a new approach and plan with our friend Allison from popular Christmas planning blog New Fallen Snow!
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If you've ever been in the mall on Christmas Eve, or the grocery store, or the liquor store, or ANY store, chances are you've said, "I need to start earlier next year!" But, have you ever considered beginning this process in January? Since you're a MyChristmas Crate fan, you already have that key element you need to make this happen: a passion for Christmas. 
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Here are my tips for successful advance planning: 
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1. Evaluate. Right after Christmas is over, in January, take note of what worked really well for you this year. Maybe it was baking fewer recipes, maybe it was shopping in August. What went well? At the same time, what was terrible? Did you give a well-meaning present that was not well-received? Did you run out of butter while baking? Anything like this, make notes.
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2. Shop all year long. If you see the perfect gift in May, buy it. Don't restrict your shopping to between Thanksgiving and Christmas or you're putting yourself in a tight spot. Keep a gift list too. When your sister says she needs new beach towels in June, you'll likely need to pick those up while the season is ripe. She's going to be so surprised that you remembered! 
 
3. Knock it out early. Writing out and addressing holiday cards, Christmas crafts, guest room preparations, whatever it is you consider a "chore" for the holidays, take care of it in September or October so it's off your plate and you've reclaimed your time! After the last Trick-or-Treater leaves on Halloween, a special time emerges. It's that tiny window between Halloween and Thanksgiving. This is the prime-time to get a jump on your Christmas planning. 
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4. Pantry stocking. If you're like me, by the end of the summer, you're looking at your wine rack wondering if you had been robbed. It's time to start the gradual restocking on the fall. I buy one bottle per week for my wine rack which eases the wallet impact and helps prepare you for guests and gifts. One of those other costly items is butter. When you have coupons and see sales, take advantage of them. You can freeze butter for 6 months to 1 year. 
 
5. House projects. At the end of summer, evaluate anything you might need to do around the house to be ready for the holidays. Back your timeline up to relieve the pressure. It's no fun when you're in the middle of decorating and notice you need to repaint a wall. 
Here it is, December 1 and you're saying, "EEP!" You still want to feel stress-less and enjoy Christmas-ing.
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Here are my tips for "rush" planning:
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1. Baking. Reduce your list. Maybe you planned on baking one batch of eight different cookies. Reclaim a ton of time by selecting two of those eight cookies, the two that you know you enjoy making the most, and triple those recipes. This enables you to turn your kitchen into a little factory. You're likely to save hours!
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2. Online shopping. If you haven't started yet, get cozy and hit Amazon. Why leave the house when it's all at your fingertips. Bonus, earn some cash back with an Ebates membership. Think of the time you will reclaim by shopping from home. Heck, order your wrapping paper and supplies while you're at it! Or, need a Target run? Order online and pick up at the front of the store. Can't even muster up the time for online shopping, surrender and give gift cards! 
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3. Party planning. Having guests or hosting an event? Trade hours of cooking for snacks and appetizers. Pick up supplies of special chocolates, trail mixes, nuts, fruits and candy and set them out in holiday bowls. Be ready to host in minutes.
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4. Themed stockings. Something happened in my house about 10 years ago. My stepdaughter said, "Can I have a whole stocking full of gum?!?" Why, YES, yes, you can! And that year the "gum stocking" was born. Easiest stocking ever, and it's become a tradition in our house. The theme of the stocking made it so easy to shop for. My husband adopted the "chocolate peanut butter" stocking, and mine is "truffles and mints." I can remember shopping for days looking for items tiny enough to fit into stockings. This one declaration probably saved me months of shopping over time! HA!
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5. Power day. If you think you'll need a "power day," make your list, take a day off of work and get out there early to ease frustrations. Give yourself a treat and start out with, breakfast or coffee before stores open. Check for extended hours and plan your route. End with a treat for yourself as well to keep yourself moving!   
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The more holiday responsibilities we take on, the less we enjoy the season. Reclaim the Christmas of your youth through planning! It's funny how the crowds and traffic seem to dissapear when you're out there for FUN! 
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Allison Baumbusch is the author and designer of "New-Fallen Snow: A Christmas Planning Journal." She can be found on Instagram @newfallensnow for year-round planning tips and reminders and online at www.new-fallensnow.com
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