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5 Tips to Make Next Holiday Season Less Stressful

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The holiday season is my favorite time of the year but it is also when I stress the most! Shopping, gifts, decorating, wrapping, holiday cards... every year the list is the same and every year there are too many to-dos and not enough time do them. I've finally realized that the only way to remain sane in the weeks leading up to the holidays is to plan ahead!

Here are five easy steps you can take now, to save yourself time and stress next holiday season:

1. Buy ornaments, gift wrap, tape and holiday decorations now.
This is the best time of the year to buy anything holiday related because many items are severely discounted. If your children are as rowdy as mine, you inevitably broke a couple of ornaments this year. Replace those ornaments and add to next season's décor now and save yourself the headache next year. And don't forget to buy tape and gift wrap to avoid next year's inevitable emergency trip to the store. Store everything in your holiday box and enjoy one less errand next holiday season!

2. Set a calendar reminder on November 1st to start the holiday card process. This is a great reminder to get started early so that you are not cramming at the last minute to get your cards out the door. Additionally, many stationary providers offer higher discounts for orders submitted by mid-to-late November. In this reminder it is also helpful to indicate the number of cards you ordered this year and whether you need more or less next year. If you work with a photographer for your annual family picture, also set a June 1st reminder to book your appointment.

3. Create a "Best of 2014 Pictures" folder. Each time you download new pictures from your phone or camera take an extra five minutes to filter through and save the best "keepers" in a "Best of 2014 Pictures" folder. This makes it easier to put together photo books, calendars, framed pictures, and holiday cards at the end of the year.

4. Sign up for Amazon Prime and set a reminder to sign up for retailers' emails. Amazon Prime is $79/year and provides two-day free shipping on millions of items. It is well worth it for the home, and a must-have if you own a small business. Sign up now so you enjoy all year and make holiday shopping next season much easier. This year many of the big retailers were providing significant discounts and deals via email throughout the months of November and December. Set a calendar reminder on November 10th to sign up for your favorite retailers' emails so you don't miss out for next years' holiday shopping. And, set another reminder on December 26th to unsubscribe to those retailers who you are not interested in post-holidays. Save yourself the email clutter in the new year!

5. Save and format your final alphabetized address labels. This year you likely made edits to your holiday card address list including changes in addresses, additions, and deletions. Take the time now to finalize these edits in an alphabetized document that you save in Google Docs or another shared drive that your family can easily access next holiday season. If you are extra motivated, find a stationary site now that will address and send out holiday cards on your behalf next year (like Paper Culture or Minted). Download their template and format your address list now to save yourself a ton of time and energy next year!