Our Tips and Tricks for Surviving {and Enjoying!} The Holidays

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christmas button

So, I will start by admitting that the approach of the holidays brings me a feeling of great anticipation and  just a small a touch of anxiety. Am I not the only one who loves the holidays, but hates the explosion of ‘THINGS’ that hit my “Things To Do’ list come mid-November? Holiday preparation is so fun, but it also can be so exhausting! Anyone else with me?

Several years ago I had to force myself to get ready for the holidays ahead of time. I was expecting my third child mid-December, with a freelance graphic design project of monstrous proportions due at just about the same time. I knew the only way I was going to get through a new baby, work and the craziness of the holiday season would involve some serious organization on my part. And, worst of all that was before blogs and Pinterest could guide me along, so I was really on my own to figure it all out. I survived that year, had a beautiful baby girl,  turned in the freelance project and somehow pulled off Christmas. I am not totally sure how it all happened–it was a blur!

Since that time, I try to stay organized as it enables me to have time to actually enjoy the holidays.  I use some of the tricks that got me through that total craziness and have added some more I have discovered along the way. Like many of you, I am a mom, and I work full-time, and of course, I also blog :). Time is truly of the essence these days! I don’t want to pretend I have any special secrets or am a time-management expert, I am just sharing what I use as a means of survival at this, the most WONDERFUL time of the year. As I shared in my post about Back to School, these are just some of the things I have found that make my life easier and keep me sane.

Trick #1 Get Organized Early.

Getting organized to me means making lists, multiple lists, I admit. So to start with, you might as well have pretty things to organize with, right? Here are our free Christmas Printables that I developed for the blog a few years back. These are based on how I prepare for the holidays,  I hope you will find them useful as well.

First is the Holiday Planner, with it you can organize your gifts you need to buy and then check them off when done.

Gifts to Buy

{Click HERE to Download the “Gift Tracker” Printable PDF}

Next, the Calendar/Menu Planner. You can use this printable calendar to schedule all the activities that come along with the holiday season, and plan out a month of meals. This will hopefully keep you from having to hit a drive-through one too many nights!

Menu Planner

{Click HERE to Download the “Menu” Printable PDF}

Finally, here is the “Things To Do” Printable, I use it to keep track of major items I need to do and to keep my decorations organized.

I print a copy of each of these out each year, and I use a 3-ring notebook to store all these printables and everything else holiday related–like receipts (I stick an envelope in the front of the notebook for all gift related receipts), I keep them along all my lists in one place. I tuck the notebook away after the holidays, then the next year when I open it up, I find my notes about decorations. It helps me remember what I need to upgrade or retire,  and what to keep my eyes open for early in the season.

Things to Do

{Click HERE to Download the “Things To Do” Printable PDF}

TRICK #2 Join Amazon Prime

This is my number one life-saving, time-saving trick. I can’t think of a better time to take advantage of Amazon Prime then the holidays, though I love it year round. I swear by this service, as do many, many people I know. You can start a Free Trial HERE, just in time for the holidays.  The joy of being able to write out my gift list, then go online to order the majority of them, and have them shipped to me for FREE in 2 days is just a great thing.  You can order just about anything these days from Amazon, its truly been a life-changer for me. While it has an upfront fee, in addition to saving from all the free shipping, the 40,000 movies available via Amazon Prime made our Netflix membership obsolete, so I think the annual cost is offset in the end.


TRICK #3: Buy Groceries Online

Do you buy groceries online? For those of you who don’t have this service available in your area, I will say right now, I am SO sorry. It took me awhile to jump on this bandwagon, and now that I utilize this service I will never go back! Other then a monthly trip to a warehouse store to knock out the big basics, I haven’t been in a store in months. While I pay  $16.95 a month for a fee, and I may miss some specials deals I might see being advertised while in-store, being able to shop directly off my list and purchasing only what I need {and not grabbing impulse purchases} makes it worth it. I use Harris Teeter, if you have that near you. If you can utilize this service even just for the holidays, I am betting you will find it as wonderful as I do.

TRICK #4/#5 Make as few trips to as few stores as possible, and be organized about it.

Ahh…Target. There aren’t too many other places you can knock out a good portion of your holiday shopping, food, holiday decor, and even grab some sparkly nail polish for a holiday party, right?

Trick #5 My Iphone


Part 2: The “Notes” App on my iPhone keeps me focused in Target and allows me to make one large trip to the store. I keep a running list of everything I need so when I am there I can just check my phone.  I am great at making lists but famous for leaving them at home or even in the car, but I pretty much always have my phone with me so now I always have my lists with me. I use this for all my shopping as you can see–not to mention blog post ideas that pop into my head and I even have started to keep a “products to try” list–those I typically find on Pinterest :).   I keep a running list for all the stores I frequent so I can get as much as I can in each trip. I used to walk into Michael’s or JoAnn’s to grab stuff for a project, only to get home and think of things I needed for my next project. This way, I accomplish more and have fewer trips, it works really well for me and saves a ton of time.

Last but not least, This book saves my life everyday! I always tell my kids if you don’t see me write it down then I probably won’t remember what they need me to do. While I have gone to an electronic calendar at work, and we use a Google calendar to organize this blog, at home I still swear by My Agenda from Mom Agenda. Sigh. I know it’s a bit antiquated, but I need the visual of the whole week in front of me, and the action of writing things down to help me think about how I can best allocate my time.

my agenda mom agenda leopard print

Not to forget, it’s a cute accessory especially in the leopard print, right? This book has space for your weekly activities, daily ‘Things To Do’ lists, addresses, vacation planning–you name it. There are tons of planners out there but this is my favorite, and I have tried many, many of them. And, right now its ON SALE, order yours HERE {they ship lightning fast–you will have it in a few days and can get your holidays in order PRONTO! They still have the leopard pattern at last check, too– but don’t wait, last year it sold out!

So, what tricks do you have to survive the Holidays? Please share!

Don’t forget we are SIX days away from our Open House Kick-Off! Be sure to follow our Group Pinterest Board HERE for all the great ideas {and more not in the series} from all the wonderful bloggers participating in our series.

11 Mag Lane Holiday Open House button Final

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to share your favorite holiday tricks in the comments, we’d love to hear them!



*This post contains affiliate links but the opinions here are always our own. should you choose to purchase a product because we recommend it via the affiliate link, your cost doesn’t change but we get  small portion of the sale which helps offset the costs of running our blog. Thank you in advance!


  1. This is great! I have been thinking about buying groceries from home and getting a Amazon Prime account myself. Great post!

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