Thursday, November 21, 2013

Simplify Your Holidays

"It's the most wonderful time, of the year...." Right?

Anymore, the Holiday's have become a major strain on our family life, wallets and sanity. For many, they no longer represent a time to cherish family and friends but, instead, represent hardships. Whether you are torn between which family you'll spend the day with, the stress of getting your home ready for a large family gathering and dinner or feeling bad because you just can't get the gifts you'd like to give for each of your family members.

What if you could find a way to Simplify Your Holidays so you aren't feeling these burdens. Sounds too good to be true right? Well it's not.

Here are some easy tips to Simplify Your Holidays so you can actually enjoy them!

  1. Plan In Advance - Don't wait till the last minute to decide what you and your family will be doing for the Holidays. Whether you'll be traveling to family or having family over, think ahead so you aren't scrambling the last minute. 
  2. Split It Up - This comes into play in multiple ways. 
    1. Split up your traveling versus staying at home. One Holiday, go see family, the next, stay at home. You also should split up the Holiday chores. 
    2. When having a large gathering at your home, split the cleaning chores between the kids. You have enough on your plate, they can chip in to help out. (You could also hire a professional cleaning service like Clean Right Co!)
    3. If going to a family member's home, bring a dish with you so you can relieve some of the stress and burden from their life. If staying home, have your visiting family bring a dish so you can actually enjoy spending time with them when they arrive. 
  3. Parents and Kids - When gift giving becomes a burden instead of a pleasure, it's time to rethink things. However much we'd all love to be able to give a wonderful, heartfelt gift to every single family member, this just isn't realistic. Stick to giving gifts to your parents and the children in your life. As far as your Aunts, Uncles, Sisters and other adult family members, a heart warming card will suffice. We can't go broke trying to be Santa! Trust me, they'll understand. 
  4. Home Made is Always Better - If your crafty, a baker or just like DYI projects, why not give them as gifts. Some of the best gifts I've given were things I made and they always end up being less expensive than buying some mass manufactured gift. 
    1. Something my family members are asking that I make again is a rice warmer/cooler. All you need is uncooked brown rice, large cotton socks, large holiday themed socks and a sewing machine/a needle and thread. Fill the large cotton sock with the uncooked brown rice. Don't fill it so full that it is rock hard. You'll want enough rice that it can be distributed evenly yet flexible so you can sling it over your neck. Sew the open end so the rice can't come out! You could leave it here but, since this will be a Christmas gift, I like to cover the cotton sock with a Holiday themed sock then sew the open end on that one too. You should also add a handcrafted tag with directions on how to use the sock. (For Heat - put in the microwave for up to 3 minutes. For Cool - put in the freezer for as long as needed.) And that's it! 
  5. Cook early - You don't have to make everything the day of. You can make pies one to two days before and refrigerate (or just buy them!). Same with the stuffing! For things you need to cook the day of, prep and put them together in advance so all you have to do on the big day is pop them in the oven or stick them on the stove top!
  6. Though we all love coming to a spectacularly decorated table for the big meal, this can be one of the biggest stresses for the hosting family. Eating on china and fancy table cloths is not what makes a Holiday dinner so forget it! Use disposables!!! They make them in wonderful Holiday themes and they aren't your run of the mill, white picnic plates and plastic forks. Most guests won't even notice or care.
  7. Stay at Home - You don't always have to have a big family gathering. This year, keep it small. Just you, your husband and your kids. The rest of the family will understand. Even better, go on a vacation! 
I hope these tips help ease your stress this Holiday Season and allow you to actually enjoy them and your family. Remember, it's not about how fancy your table is or how much you spend on the gifts, it's about enjoying the time you have with your family and friends.

Till next time, Erica Jensen. President Clean Right Co of Spokane. 

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