I love the holidays. I get to spend time with friends and family and make new memories, bake festive treats, decorate my home and pull out my favorite hot chocolate mug again. But I would be lying if I said there aren't at least a few frustrating aspects of the holidays, from the tangled Christmas lights to picking out the perfect gifts for everyone. That's why I constructed this handy checklist to make the holiday season as easy, enjoyable and stress-free as possible.
Have an assortment of cards on hand
Forget to send your co-worker a holiday card? What about your new neighbor who just moved in down the block? You won't have to worry about ordering more holiday cards if you already have an assortment on hand. Choose from a variety of assortment packs to find the perfect cards for each person on your list. Use designer stamps that contain your return address to make mailing the cards simple.
Download shopping apps
Holiday shopping can be stressful, there's no way of getting around that. There's always a long list of people I have to buy for, and I often have trouble knowing what to get them. There are some smartphone apps that can make holiday shopping a whole lot easier, however. The Christmas List allows you to set a budget and actually tracks your shopping progress for you. You can even organize your list by store to make your shopping experience as efficient as possible. I also love ShopSavvy, which allows you to compare the prices of everything from clothing to toys to see if another store is selling the product you're interested in at a lower price.
Check lights before hanging
Whether you're stringing lights on the tree or on the bushes outside your home, it's important to always check for burnt out lights beforehand. You don't want to go through all that work of untangling and hanging the strands only to find that a few of the bulbs don't work. If only a few bulbs are out, you can replace them individually. But if the whole strand is out, it might be time to buy new lights. When the holiday season comes to an end and you're ready to put the lights back into storage, wind them around empty wrapping paper tubes so you won't have to spend hours untangling them next year.
Opt for thick wrapping paper
When wrapping holiday presents, it's best to purchase paper that's on the thicker side. It will be less prone to tearing or ripping, which can come in handy if you're trying to wrap oddly sized gifts. You can even make your own wrapping paper by using brown kraft paper and some stamps. When you're cutting the paper, make sure you're using sharp scissors so they can just glide across, creating a smooth line. If you happen to get an uneven, jagged line, simply fold the paper over to get a straight edge. Secure the paper to your box with transparent tape. The person receiving the gift will notice the pretty pattern on the paper rather than the strips of tape.
Stock your kitchen
Chances are, you're going to be baking more than a few holiday cookies this season, whether they're just for your enjoyment or to be brought to a holiday get-together. No matter which type of cookie you choose to bake, stocking your kitchen with these decorating supplies will ensure you have everything you need:
- Cookie cutters: Purchase a wide variety of shapes, from snowmen to reindeer. Opt for copper cutters, which are rust-proof and durable. They'll stick around for many holiday seasons.
- Cookie icing: While you can certainly make your own icing from scratch, the store-bought cookie icing is nice to have on-hand when you're in a hurry.
- Fine and coarse sanding sugar: These decorative sugars will sweeten your cookies and make them shimmer.