Use these tips to save time so you can do more of what you enjoy this holiday season!
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We are getting down to Christmas crunch time. In fact, I am feeling it even crunchier right now, if that’s a thing. We have two celebrations with family this weekend that require gifts being wrapped and food being prepared. It’s been a bit of a hectic week anyway, but I’m making it.
As I was making cookie dough last evening after dealing with lunchbox containers before making dinner and lunches for today, I was thinking about the ways I work to stay sane during this holiday crunch time. I figured I’d pass them along in case they help anyone else. And if you have anything you do, please share! We are in this together!
Use parchment paper
Christmas cookies are my jam. I enjoy making them. One of my family’s favorite cookie recipes is toffee crunch cookies (I’ll have the recipe up for you next week!). They are good but a bit sticky. Parchment paper makes baking them so, so, so much easier. I use it for all cookies because it also makes clean-up way easier. Even if you only use it for holiday baking, I highly recommend parchment paper, because who couldn’t use easier clean-up right now?! I didn’t discover the joys of parchment paper until about five years ago. I was only sad that I hadn’t used it sooner!
Use small appliances to help
Cookie dough doesn’t have to be mixed in a stand mixer, but my life is a whole lot easier with my stand mixer. Not only can I do other things while ingredients are mixing (like tossing out eggshells or closing up brown sugar), but it also saves my arms. Honestly, that’s the biggest benefit. With fibromyalgia, I’m all for anything I can do to help save my hands, arms and shoulders. I couldn’t do half the baking I do without my stand mixer. I love Dorothy so much! (Read more about my stand mixer here!)
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears mentioning again. I love shopping online! I save money (check out two easy ways to save money shopping online), and I can find good deals to cover all my Christmas gift needs (check out 15 gifts under $20 for everyone on your Christmas list — most of them are Amazon Prime eligible so you still have time!). I also utilize online shopping for everyday items from makeup to paper products to nonperishable foods. It saves me time at the grocery store and helps me avoid crowds, which is pretty priceless!
Keep wrapping supplies handy
This one happened on accident this year, but it’s worked so well for me. This is our first year living with two stories since our very first townhouse college apartment when we got married 19 years ago. I keep my wrapping supplies in the closet of our guest bedroom/game room upstairs. I do my wrapping at my kitchen table. (We have a counter height table this year, and I’m loving how easy it is to wrap on that thing without killing my back!)
I brought down some wrapping paper and supplies for a gift wrapping session and they’ve remained downstairs ever since. I put most of them in a box. Some gifts yet to be wrapped are hidden in there as well. Others are elsewhere. But it has made my life easier. Yesterday, for example, I picked up a gift for my husband, came home and had it wrapped and under the tree within a couple of minutes. Does it look super great between my living room and dining room? Maybe not. Do I care? Nope, because it really is making my life easier!
Wear an apron
This sounds a little crazy, maybe, but wearing an apron when I’m baking makes my life easier. A long time ago, I’d just wear old clothes for baking then have to change if I left the house. These days, I have to leave the house more regularly because the kids need to be picked up from school and such. I’ve learned that my grandma’s generation was really onto something with aprons. I have my favorite apron hanging in my pantry at all times ready to save my clothes from flour and powdered sugar messes. It’s another one of those simple things that makes a difference for me.
If you were to look at the calendar on my phone, you’d find all sorts of “appointments.” I set them for so many things beyond just appointments and meetings. Last night, for example, I had just snuggled under the covers to go to sleep when I remembered that I hadn’t put a spoon in my daughter’s lunchbox and was planning to send her soup. I sat up, grabbed my phone and set a reminder for 7 a.m. to put a spoon in her lunchbox.
The best part of setting reminders for such mundane things is that it lets me let them go. I don’t have to hang onto that thought and try to remember it or stress about it. I know my phone will ding with a reminder. I have appointment reminders set for things like my son’s PJ day for his school winter party next Friday or my making sure to put cookies in my daughter’s backpack for hers. It is my go-to organizational tool year round, but even more so this time of year when life gets hectic.
Ask for help
My husband is really good to do things around here. But he isn’t a mind reader. I can’t expect he knows when I need him to jump in, so I ask. Last night, for example, I was cleaning up from making cookie dough and asked him to get supper started. Later we divvied up tasks between kitchen clean-up from dinner and laundry duty. This coming week, we will work together to finish wrapping gifts.
When our kids were younger and home all day, we had times we’d ask our parents to watch them for a few hours so we could wrap gifts or I could bake without having to try and keep a toddler away from the oven door every time I opened it. It takes a village sometimes to make holiday magic happen!
What tips and tricks do you use to make your Christmas season a little less hectic?
Looking for more Christmas ideas? Check out these posts!