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Family Holiday Survival Guide

Once again, it’s that beautiful time of year when you can smell the snow in the air (if it hasn’t already become a blanket on your rooftop), and all that matters is finding the right multi-colored lanterns and making a batch of delicious gingerbread cookies.

But how does a mom find her Hakuna Matata in all this rush? For all of you mamas out there who are in for the jolly fun Christmas and New Year’s, the following tips may be your life-savers when you need them most!

The costs conundrum

Before your expenses skyrocket into the realm of impossible, you can craft your spending so that you keep the quality and still save a decent sum of money on unnecessary costs. For instance, instead of purchasing decorations (that have a wily tendency to stop working as soon as the next holiday season comes around), you can visit your local park or a forest to pick up pine cones, a few seasonal tree branches and take out your LED lanterns, that will last much longer and save energy.

As for food, moms that expect a slew of family members coming to visit and you’d prefer someone to help with the catering – instead of choosing the priciest well-known providers, you can easily hire someone from your local stores who has done presentations and sampling, their gigs tend to be much more cost-effective. Check out who your most affordable wine-sellers are in your hometown, and save tons on needlessly pricey bottles from your nearest liquor store.

Master your shopping spree

Or to be more precise, let’s not make it a spree at all! First off, you can cut your travel time in half if you start shopping online, and thus reduce your carbon footprint. You’ll avoid the crowds, you won’t waste your time waiting in the cash register line for hours on end, and you’ll be able to spend more time with your family.

Make sure you order everything in one go, so that you can save a trip to the post office or keep the delivery to a minimum of a single one. And as for the pivotal Christmas tree, do your best to go to organic tree farms and pick a living tree you can either recycle or re-plant into your backyard or a nearby nature reserve after the holidays. The best way to express your gratitude and kindness is to limit wastefulness.

Gift etiquette 101

Experiences are some of the best gifts you can give, so make a note to check for the events around the holidays (or afterwards, I’m sure nobody would mind) and purchase e-tickets for your friends and family. It can be a performance of their favorite singer, a theatre show, or even the infamous Ice Capades for those who love that.

Then again, some would indeed appreciate a practical gift, and in that case, it’s best to choose something that they actually need. If your sister has had a baby recently, then she could use a few cotton pram blankets, a sling to carry the little nestling, a care package for the mom, a piece of baby-friendly jewelry, or even an old family toy that’s been waiting for an heir.

Food is for everyone

If you have little ones, but old enough to run around and wreak havoc, then it’s time to put their energy to some good use! There’s no time like the holidays to teach them the value of helping around the house, and the kitchen is no exception. Assign smaller, manageable tasks to your little ones, and get your other family members to pitch in, as well.

It’s an opportunity to bond, exchange old recipes, and even perfect your cooking skills while saving some time. Everyone is your family likely has their own “expertise”, and getting them to take over the reins wouldn’t be that much of a trouble. Let your uncle Steve prep the sweet potatoes, while aunt Maggie handles the cranberry sauce!

Cleaning on the clock

Just like shopping, we tend to lose track of our cleaning time as well, as we spend an extra hour trying to get that stubborn carpet stain out, or vacuum the same room twice because one of the kids spilled a full bowl of flour mix.

Keep your cleaning jitters under control by setting a precise cleaning timetable just an evening before your guests arrive, use toxin-free, all-natural cleaning supplies, and don’t be afraid to delegate this chore as well! It’s a family holiday, after all, and everyone should have their fair share of holiday preparations along your side!