Last year's holiday season kicked my butt...I wrote this list shortly after to help me get through it this year.
1. Start early. Start thinking in October/November (oops. a little late on this post.) Once December hits, it's like a boulder going downhill--find good deals, seize the moment. Don't procrastinate!
2. Start writing cards early too. Mail them to people you don't see often enough to get it them before 12/25. Be mindful of when you'll see the folks you write cards too. Don't wait to the last minute to give them their cards.
3. If you like baking and like to give baked goods as gift, remember: it's okay to give your edible gifts early. Last year, I tried to give these gifts as close to Christmas as possible, but my days only got more crowded with holiday events, last minute shopping, cooking, etc. Save yourself some stress and make your deliveries a week or two early.
4. Want to avoid the commercialism of the holidays all together? World Vision and Compassion International have amazing gift catalogs that actually allow you to buy a goat for a family, a water well in a village, farming equipment, school supplies, and more.
TOMS, Petit Plume, FEED, Night Light International are just a few websites that can help you 'gift responsibly' this season. Plus, I think these go with anything. Love these bows. I would style this with jeans, oversize sweater, and a messy bun.
5. Make a list/have a plan. Know what you've purchased and what you are looking for. Try to do it in one shot (repetitive trips to stores, fighting parking and traffic makes me Grinch-y). Avoid shopping aimlessly or else it's really easy to get distracted & end up buying useless gifts for who knows or for yourself. Lists+plan=less time shopping
6. Save. Holidays can get expensive--gifts, holiday potlucks, a few additional birthdays on top of your normal expenses. My very sweet and wise coworker saves $100/month starting in January.
7. By all means, avoid shopping Christmas Eve. Actually, that whole week of Christmas at that. The crowds, lines, parking lots are bound to make you an instant grouch. (Unless, you thrive at the challenge and pressure, then by all means...)
8. Enjoy time with your family and friends...seriously. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of this season. Take hikes together, appreciate, notice the big & little things they do for you and thank them sincerely.
9. Don't overindulge on the sweets--chances are you'll get lots of them. Only eat the ones you really like (which may be bad advice)...just remember, moderation is key.
10. Whatever your race, religion, creed...remember the real 'reason for the season.' Give thanks & celebrate.