Are you enjoying this holiday season, or have you let the hub-bub and hoopla get the best of you? Take a deep breath. Now another. And one more. Ok, here we go!

If it feels like there’s more to do than time to do it in, prioritize. What must you accomplish, what would you really love to get done, and what might you do only if time permits? At the very least, make some notes about changes for next year. Oh, and put those notes somewhere you’ll actually find them when you want them.

Santa shouldn’t be the only one making a list and checking it twice – have your to-do lists with you at all times; I keep notes and errands on my computer using Google Keep, and that automatically syncs with my smartphone.

My holiday gift lists are in google docs: one for hubby, each kid, and then other family, friends, Secret Santa, as well as work and charity presents. I list ideas as they’re given or thought of, and fill in purchase details so I stay within budget and get the right number of gifts for stocking stuffers. I hang on to receipts until I know each item fits, works, and is a keeper.

If you have too much on your plate, cut back. Say no. If there are things you don’t enjoy or don’t have time for, stop. I haven’t sent Christmas cards in a kazillion years. When I quit, guess what? Nothing bad happened.

I used to bake a bunch of different cookies – I’ve trimmed it down to a few favorites, and that’s plenty. If you don’t like to bake, then don’t. It might be too late this year, but next year, think about a cookie exchange. That might turn into a tasty new holiday tradition.

Hubby and I turn gift wrapping into a fun event throughout the holidays with a cozy fire, a glass of wine, and everything we need to create beautiful packages. It’s one of our favorite holiday traditions. If gift wrapping isn’t your thing, switch to gift bags – they’re easy breezy and festive.

If you hate the holiday crowds, do your shopping online. If you don’t like online shopping, think strategically and logically, and plan your trip to maximize what gets accomplished.

Agonizing over gift ideas? Gift cards! Trust me, if you pick a gift card to a retail store, restaurant or venue the recipient would enjoy, it’s a win-win. A favorite adult beverage is almost always a welcome gift. You can give something homemade if you’re crafty AND have time. How about the gift of time? Plan a lunch date, go see a movie, or have dinner and drinks together with family or friends.

Decorating can be simplified, too. Our decorations are packed in bins labeled by room, and my room-by-room computerized list tells me where each item goes. If I add something new (and get rid of something old!) I update the list. It eliminates the frustration of trying to remember where things go. If there are décor items you no longer use, donate them; I’m sure there are folks who will love them.

Don’t expect people to read your mind. If there’s something you’d really appreciate as a gift, say so – surprises aren’t all they’re cracked up to be! If you’d like to be included in holiday festivities, speak up.

If you know someone who will be alone, include them in one of your holiday traditions. Be a light that twinkles for someone if darkness weighs heavily on them this time of year. That’s a gift you can’t put a price on. And if, for whatever reason, you just can’t deal with the holidays this year, take a year off. And don’t forget to breathe.

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