The Traveling Teacher


Busy mom’s guide to holiday survival

Holly McElwee

Contributing Columnist



December is here, along with another bustling holiday season. I love this time of year, but in addition to Christmas, my family also celebrates three birthdays and an anniversary between Thanksgiving and the New Year. We call this six week span, “the party month.” It gets a bit crazy at times, so I’ve had to learn how to control the madness.

1. Manage the shopping. I love to buy gifts, but it can be overwhelming. This year, in the name of efficiency, I decided to stop deliberating so much. I have a list of people to buy for, and when I come across an item that I think they’d like, I buy it. I don’t cross check prices, I don’t run to five different stores to compare, and I don’t come back to the store on another day. I’ve also been doing this with online shopping, and Amazon has become my best friend. I’m an Amazon Prime member, and since all my shipping is free with my membership, I order items as they occur to me. My mailman must be sick of delivering those Amazon boxes, but this strategy keeps me sane when it comes to gift buying.

2. I wrap presents immediately. I’m my own worst enemy sometimes when I put off wrapping the gifts. Last year was miserable because I waited until too close to Christmas. Now I wrap presents shortly after I buy them. No more late nights spent with wrapping, ribbons, and bows on the brink of the holiday. I’m wrapped and ready to roll!

3. Decorating is now a family affair. My kids are old enough to be “helper elves” with putting up the Christmas tree and other decorations. Our main tree went up lickety-split this year because it was a family affair. Each girl also did her own little tree, and I have my Star Wars tree (I’m a HUGE fan) that also is a yearly fixture in our house. The decorating went so well that I had the nativity scene up before my daughter could get to it, and she was upset with me for beating her to the punch. She took it upon herself to rearrange the entire scene to suit her tastes.

4. Capitalize on the weather. This year I broke my own rule…we started decorating before Thanksgiving. I usually wait, but the weather was warm, so we hung those outside decorations without the misery of freezing temperatures. It was so much better than trying to decorate in the cold. And, because we started earlier than usual, I felt less stressed about the whole process. My Thanksgiving rule may be out the window from now on!

5. I’ve learned to just say no. Christmas musicals, holiday parties, events, festivals, tree lightings, volunteer opportunities … there are a million ways I can commit my time during the holidays, but the fact is that I just can’t do it all. That’s why I’ve learned to pick and choose. I alternate activities from year to year so that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on an opportunity. It helps me to enjoy a variety of fun festivities and to spread around my time.

6. Make time for what’s important. This dovetails off the idea of just saying, “no.” I make the holiday traditions of highest importance at the top of my priority list and let other activities fall to the wayside. Whether it’s cookie baking, attending church functions, going to see a Christmas play or musical, touring holiday lights, watching TV specials, or visiting Santa, I make sure not to let the other busy December activities crowd out those moments that make lasting memories. I schedule it on the calendar, if needed, and make it happen.

December is a magical time of year. Be sure to keep the madness in check and enjoy the precious moments of the season.

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Busy mom’s guide to holiday survival

Holly McElwee

Contributing Columnist

Contact Holly McElwee at [email protected]

Contact Holly McElwee at [email protected]

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