Running Out Of Time?? HOLIDAY Stress NO MORE!

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For whatever reason, the holidays have snuck up on me (again) and I seriously need another three weeks to get my house, gift buying & wrapping, holiday dinner menu and life handled. I see all these posts with amazing seasonal decor, beautifully decorated trees, perfectly planned holiday parties,  insanely wrapped gifts ….like many full-time working mamas out there, I just wish I had more hours in the day to accomplish these things. I am all about lists and finding ways to maximize time so I can be that awesome homemaker too.  Here are a few cheats to help tackle your holiday to-do list and to gain a few extra minutes so you can enjoy some egg nog with your loved ones.

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ONLINE SHOPPING – JUST DO IT all ready!!!  Do not, I repeat, do not find yourself in a mall, waiting for help after spending 20 mins trying to find parking…and let’s be honest, the store won’t have the size or color you need anyway! The other night I went to Nordstrom.com and Amazon.com (while laying in bed with hot cocoa – mental mommy break) and got 2 of my 3 kids’ christmas lists completed. I would also like to note that my Amazon goods were delivered in 2 days and the Nordstrom items in 5 days!!   I was able to find the best prices by buying online.  ALL FREE SHIPPING!!  THANK YOU INTERNET!

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GIFT WRAPPING – My kids are older now but when they were younger and I had sitters for them, I would have my sitter wrap gifts once the kids were in bed. This is a great way to get every penny out of your sitter and get one more “to-do” off your list.  Just set up an area with the gifts, paper, etc ahead of time and make sure you let them know what/who they are wrapping for.

fullsizerender-16Williams Sonoma (online catering)

DINNER MENU – I know we all love cooking for our family and friends but it takes up the whole day and the kitchen clean up takes another.  Luckily for us, there are a ton of options when it comes to delicious pre-made food.  Just recently I received a catalog from Williams Sonoma with incredible options for gourmet, pre-made dishes. You can also order amazing quality meals from Honeybaked Ham (more than just ham, I love the turkey breast), Neiman Marcus (yes, they have food), your local market/grocery store or Costco. You can order anything from groceries, to platters, to just a few dishes or an entire meal.

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TREE DECORATING- I’ve had an artificial tree for years but this year some of the lights were acting up and I decided to change things up.   I picked up a  real tree a few days ago. After squeezing it into the backseat of my SUV and driving home with it hanging out the window,  I threw on the lights and ornaments with my kids.  While I love a fresh tree, I am starting to love the idea of a faux tree for three reasons – 1) no needles to vacuum up and 2) it comes pre-lit and is ready to go right out of the box and 3) I don’t have to stuff it into my car.  Comment if you want to see pics of the fiasco!  These types of trees usually come in 3-5 pieces that you snap together.  From there, you just plug in and you got a glowing tree. If you are running out of time, make this investment and have your tree delivered. There are so many options for great, fake trees. Both, Frontgate and Balsam Hill have beautiful, “real looking” faux trees. AND…if you worry you will miss the smell of having a tree in your home, there are incense for that – link below:

Pine Tree Incense

My Favorite Christmas Candle – Thymes Frasier Fir Pine Needle Candle

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INSIDE DECOR – Running out of time to decorate??? Keep it simple by swapping out your usual candles with holiday themed ones, add a wreath or cut some branches from your tree for greenery. Lastly, buy some florals at your local supermarket to complete your room.

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OUTSIDE DECOR – Decorating your whole home with lights would be amazing, but costly and time consuming.  Below are some simple ways to get your home in the holiday spirit and quickly.

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WREATHS – Buy a few, as these work great on front doors, windows and garages. I found some great boxwood wreaths today at Trader Joes for $9.99.  They are easy to hang with over-the-door wreath hooks, ribbon or wire.  I personally love using the Command hooks with adhesive backs – link below:

Large Command Hooks

Brushed Nickel Command Hook


house-litImage from Young House Love

 WINDOW CANDLES (battery operated )- This is a pretty way to add light and literally not have to hang, measure, find an outlet, or deal with messy cords. Home depot and Amazon have these – here’s the link:

Battery Powered Candles


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VELVET BOWS – The best part about these inexpensive bows is that they usually have plastic, wire tie backs that make it super easy to place on fence posts, stair railings and windows. Red bows are a great way to dress up wreaths too. You can buy these at Amazon and Home Depot as well – link below:

 2 Pack Holiday Bows Under $10


DIY LANTERNS – Simply fill paper bags with sand and tealights or LED candles to give your driveway or front yard a holiday glow. Here are a few helpful guides below:


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DESIGN TIP:  Trim off the bottom branches of your tree to add greenery on your fire place mantle, kitchen table or even hang from your front door in place of a wreath.  A little greenery, red ribbon and a few pinecones can make any space look and feel festive.   

Holiday Prep 101

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As a busy mom and a full time realtor, I have to be super organized when it comes to the holidays.  As mothers, we already have a ton on our plates….we juggle taking kids to and from school, to their after school activities and sporting events, we have to make dinner, do laundry, dishes….the list never ends. That same list just continues to grow during the months of November and December and in order to stay sane, I have a few helpful tips to share below.

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ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE – I started loading up my cart 2 weeks ago. I selected my order date and time ( believe me, available delivery spots fill up fast so reserve your slot ASAP) and have been adding items as I think of things I will need. I started with home goods; i.e.) toilet paper, water, soap….all the goods I will need for my guests and home.  Then I add groceries needed for recipes and meals.  Most online ordering allows you to add items up until the day before delivery.

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The Love & Lemons Cookbook

REVISIT RECIPES – We all have some favorite recipes, either  family traditions or basic staples that we love to make.  Start reviewing and organizing those recipes and notes a few weeks out.  This allows you plenty of time to adjust your menu or look for new recipes.  Just don’t forget to look at each ingredient to make sure you have it on hand (spices and herbs often to get forgotten) and then add to your online grocery list.

fullsizerender-2Inspo from HomeGoods

CONFIRM HEADCOUNT – The holidays always throw us a last minute curve ball and more often than not, an extra guest finds their way to your table.  Do take a few hours to layout seating and table arrangments.

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COMPLETE YOUR TABLESCAPES – I reuse a lot of my plates and decor for gatherings.  My plates are neutral and I have metallic chargers for under.  My linens are white, my candle holders & votives are mercury glass and my vases are clear.  From there, I add the color of the season or holiday with smaller plates, florals, napkins, pumpkins, pinecones, pine, etc. to create the story or theme I am going for. I usually start creating my tablescape 2-3 weeks out so I have time to buy an extra table cloth or accessory if needed.

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ORDER DESSERTS AND FLORALS – I love to cook but I can’t do it all and in all honesty,   my local bakery makes my favorite desserts.  Cross another item off your list by ordering these  goods and having them ready for pick up the day before your gathering. You can do the same with florals from your market.

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HAVE GIFTS ON HAND – A few years ago, I had a sweet neighbor (new to the neighborhood) stop buy with a really nice gift for our home.  She came by to introduce herself and wanted to wish us a Happy New Year.  I was so sad that I didn’t have a little something for her.  Obviously the holidays aren’t about buying someone a gift just because they gave you one, but I love to give – even if it’s  just cookies or a card. Throughout the year, as I am shopping for upcoming birthday gifts or I find a great sale on one of my favorite items, I make a purchase and hold onto these extra little goodies to give out as needed.  Sometimes it is as simple as my kids needing a last minute gift for a party or for a friend having a bad week that I am meeting for lunch.  I do the same with cards, as I find some favorites, I buy and use throughout the year.

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BUY HOLIDAY CARDS NOW – There are a ton of discounts on picture cards starting the end of October, beginning of November.  Plus many sites offer free shipping this early.  Don’t wait till the 2nd week of December and pay full price + expedited shipping.  This is an easy project to do while watching tv or in bed once kids are tucked away.  Some of my favorite sites: Tinyprints.com, Shutterfly.com, Minted.com

Happy Holidays from my family to yours! WW

HELPFUL HINT:  To save money and time, organize a cookie swap in your neighborhood or amongst friends.  This is a great way to get a lot of cookies made for not only your home and kids but to give out as gifts.  It also allows you time to be with friends and family and try new recipes. 

Buy Cookie Exchange Boxes Here      Rectangle Cookie Exchange Boxes

Spritz Cookie Exchange Kit   3 Dozen Holiday Treat Boxes