Your Guide To A Carefree Holiday Season

I don’t know about all of y’all but I can’t believe that it is already November. Christmas is in full swing at stores, media and I suppose here on 30 Shades of Stephanie. The holidays can be the most stressful time of the year, but only if you let it. A few years ago, the holiday season became too much for me and it was miserable. I’ve never hated the holiday season as much as that year and I knew something had to give in order for me to enjoy my favorite time of the year, so the following year I made a few changes that immensely helped. So here are a few things I do in order to actually enjoy the holiday season and make the best of it.

Plan Holiday Travels, Outings and Make Reservations 

Now is the time to book your plane tickets and hotel rooms. It will be much cheaper now and you will actually be able to get a flight or room. Since it is November you can now start making reservations for any holiday dinners out especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day because those reservations tend to fill up fast. Living in a tourist town, trust me, book any December special event dinners now. Also go ahead and try to buy tickets now to any holiday events like the ballet, concerts or light festivals. You can generally get them cheaper now, get better times or seats and of course they aren’t sold out yet!

Make Your Christmas Cards

I don’t know how many times I have planned to take the perfect Christmas card photo and make those cute custom photo Christmas cards or buy the perfect witty and festive card to tuck the photos inside. I either never have enough time to take the photos, let alone make the cute photo cards or buy cards. Don’t even get me started on the actual mailing of the cards. Sometimes they get sent a few days before Christmas or they don’t get sent at all. Right now is the perfect time to get on the ball with this. Plenty of time to take the pictures and get the perfect picture picked out. Plenty of time to make those cheesy custom cards or buy cards and print out the photos. Plus if you by now you don’t have to be left with the unwanted card selections! Also now is the time to make sure you have everyone’s correct addresses and make a list of all the people you want to send cards to. You don’t want to leave anyone out. And last but not least, buy your stamps now. The lines aren’t as long and you can easily slip them in to your mailbox once you have everything filled out. Now who doesn’t love some snail mail, especially festive snail mail?!

Start Thinking About Meal Planning

So not only do you have to plan for Thanksgiving meals and Christmas meals but you are going to be busy, busy during the holiday season. I know I tend to work longer days and have more social events filling my free time that the last thing I want to think about is making dinner. I like to start looking for easy and quick recipes that are perfect for the long days I seem to have during the holiday season. I like to look for crock-pot recipes and one pan dishes on Pinterest and make note of those recipes for the season. But I have also recently discovered Seeds of Change thanks to Influenster, which makes dinners at home a breeze. Seeds of Change offers rices and sauce packs that are not only healthy but extremely easy. Win, win. I received a complimentary Sweet and Sour sauce pack and made an awesome stir fry packed with veggies and protein. The best part, it took hardly no time to make. I stir fried garlic, mushrooms, onions, green beans, asparagus, chicken and the sweet and sour sauce and served over rice. It was a hit in my house and I will be purchasing more of these sauce packets to make during the busy season. The full range of Seeds of Change products are available at Target!

****This product was sent to me to test and review. All thoughts and ideas are my own.****

Start Planning Now 

One of the things I learned from the year I knew I was starting to despise Christmas was because I wasn’t using a calendar or planner. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to me it’s a huge deal and it is for a lot of people. For me, if it isn’t written down or planned in advance it generally isn’t happening. I remember that year I lost the holiday spirit, the biggest bummer was double planning two events in one night (twice). One was an early Christmas present (the ballet, which I hadn’t seen since I was a child) and then a social media event. I got a message on the way to the ballet asking where I was for something I was supposed to be co-hosting. I remember yelling, crying, making up an excuse and not paying attention during the ballet worried I had let a few people down. Ohhhh and something similar happened the following week. Now I write down everything. Work, social events, blog post and social media schedules, dinners, freelance meetings and even when I am wanting to go and do certain Christmas events. I also like to write down a list of things I want to do like going to the ballet, seeing Christmas lights, Christmas at Biltmore,  the gingerbread competition at the Grove Park Inn or art events so I can prioritize and plan out those “Christmas Bucket List” things so I can actually do them. I’m telling you it makes a world of difference. So use the calendar on your phone, a standard calendar or a full blown planner to get it together. Plus you won’t miss out on the things you really want to do if you plan accordingly.

I have recently found this little holiday planner from One Swell Studio which is adorable for the holidays and perfect for keeping it together. The design is so chic and I love the large daily layout. It doesn’t start until December but perfect for the craziest month. This one is super unique because it acts as a keepsake of the holiday as well. Not only does it have a to do list for every day, but also spots for special moments from the day and a spot to write what you are thankful for. It also includes portions for budgeting, spending and gift tracking. I will use this in conjunction with my regular planner, this one as my to-do list and holiday memory keeper. How cute would it be to add a Polaroid picture to each page for each day?! Seriously considering this.

Block Off Downtime and Be Okay With Doing Less

Though I like to plan hardcore for the holidays I have also started to make sure that I have time where I haven’t packed the entire day with festive activities. During the holiday season you really need to focus on self-care more to avoid getting depressed or despising the holiday. Also if you can’t do everything, that’s ok. It’s fine to not do every festive activity in your town or go to every social event. If it doesn’t all get done, everyone around you and yourself will be fine. I like to pick a few days where I just do things I like, generally by myself, like getting my nails done or getting a massage. You deserve it girlfriend! Plus I will be sharing tons of self-care ideas here on the blog and on Instagram throughout the holiday season.

 

 

Frugal Friday

This Frugal Friday is going to be a little bit different because I am going to start doing something that seems a bit scary but needs to get done. There are officially only 60 days until Christmas, Halloween is this coming Thursday and after that it is full Christmas mode. I feel like every year it is so stressful and hectic but a little bit of planning could eliminate that stress and actually help myself as well as you enjoy the holidays. Over the course of the next 60 days, I plan to try to help you as much as possible by creating checklists we should all accomplish each week and as we near the holiday I plan to provide you with more activities, checklists, recipes and stress relievers to help us out. However The first thing we need to do and accomplish during this week is setting ourselves a budget for the holidays.

Frugal Friday

 

{IMAGE :VIA}

There is no point in over spending this holiday season so here is a checklist I found to help you

1. Plan on what to spend over all and on each person

2.Plan for cards and postage

3.Plan for any outfit you will need to buy

4.Plan for travel whether airfare, hotels or gas

5.Plan for food

6.Plan for all the donations you will be asked for at work or at the mall

7.Plan for wrapping expenses

8.Plan for decorations

After you have your total, that you can personally afford, set a time frame you want to do this maybe 4 or 5 weeks so you can start saving now and have the money by the holiday rush to get all this done. Here is an awesome template you can use to help with this found here.

Stay tuned for the countdown to Christmas and how to plan a little better, some ideas, recipes, crafts and tasks to make your holiday season the best yet..