Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Making Spirits Bright

Apparently the holiday rush has already begun. I thought people were supposed to procrastinate! What happened, fellow shoppers? Why aren't you waiting until the week of Christmas to do your shopping? Why are there already guys in neon vests directing traffic around the parking lot at the Home Depot shopping center? Why is Bed Bath & Beyond already packed with people pushing full carts up to the checkout counters? I thought I was on top of things and ahead of the crazy chaos that is last-minute Christmas errands.

I was wrong. The chaos already started.

So now I'm starting to take a look at stuff I usually leave to the last minute, because procrastinating is not an option with an infant. I won't be able to shop for twelve gifts in one day, wrap them all that afternoon, bake cookies while Terry ties bows on the gifts, and still stay in the Christmas spirit. Here are some ideas if you, like me, are trying to avoid panic and actually enjoy this holiday season.

Plan, plan, plan. You know this girl loves a list. Terry and I always make a Google Doc that we can both edit so we keep track of what we might get for people, what we've already gotten, and what still needs to be done. It helps ensure we don't leave time-sensitive gifts to the last minute and helps me stay organized in the midst of mom brain.

Try to go out during non-peak hours. I have the luxury of shopping almost anytime of day because I stay home with Marshall now, but I realize not everyone can do that. Still, if possible, aim for hitting up stores right when they open. Even shopping during lunch hour might be more efficient than tackling a long list at Costco on a Saturday.

Avoid the rush altogether by making homemade gifts. Gina created a post with lots of ideas, but you can find ideas on Pinterest, or you can make this hot chocolate mix and put it in a mason jar and find yourself buried in thank you notes because it's that delicious. Bonus if you include some homemade marshmallows.

The Internet is your friend. I have grown to love, love, love my dear buddy, the Internet. I value that I can find almost everything I want to give friends and family and often keep it super personal. This year, since our world is a bit focused on this guy,

a lot of our gifts are personalized photo items. Of course, I don't want to give anything away for those who might be on the receiving end of these gifts, so I'll share what I've found around the web in case you're looking for personalized gifts!

Photo Calendars. Last year, Terry's favorite gift from me was a photo calendar. We knew we wouldn't be traveling much this year (what with my belly and a newborn), so I chose a different city for each month and highlighted a bunch of our favorite travel photos. We put the calendar in our kitchen, and it makes both of us smile every day (no joke!). We're already working together on next year's calendar together.

Photo Books.  Can you ever go wrong with a photo book? You can focus on something specific, like a trip or a special event, or you can fill a book with special memories from an entire year. It does take some time to select and arrange photos, but at least you get to cozy up on your couch with some cocoa while you do it!

Everything Etsy. We purchased our family stockings on Etsy, and we also ordered an engraved picture frame as a gift. I don't use it enough, but Etsy truly has it all.

Holiday Cards. I mentioned it before, but I LOVE sending and receiving holiday cards! It's unrealistic (at least for us) to give a gift to everyone we love, but I truly believe that most friends and family simply appreciate the thought of a card. I genuinely enjoy hearing from those we love, getting a quick update on their year, seeing recent photos. The folks over at Minted got in touch with me, and I love their designs for Minted's Christmas cards. I think it's awesome that they use a variety of designers; my favorites are "Complete Tree"

 and "Hand-Painted Branches."

Check out all the other designs--plus, you can get free recipient address printing! (Minted has a ton of other lovely looking, personalized gifts, including stationery and photo art. Perfect for virtually anyone on your gift list!)

After the shopping, keep the rest simple. I'm taking a tip from my aunt this year and using simple craft paper to wrap all our gifts, but then we'll use fun bows and ribbons to add some personality. Instead of going crazy with elaborate meals and fancy baking, I'm sticking to tried and true recipes we love. We're also making sure to focus on the spirit of the season--purchasing and giving gifts should be a fun, thoughtful experience, and I want to make sure we keep that in mind as we get ready for the big day(s).

I hope your holiday season is truly joyous. I love giving gifts, finding the perfect something for each person I love, and watching them open the surprise. It's one of the best parts of the entire year!

Any tips to avoid holiday madness and keep the spirit of the season alive?

Please note: Part of this post was sponsored by Minted, but all opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. ahhhh we do so so so little for the season which isnt homemade.
    it just works for us.