Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seven Questions--Top Holiday Tips

It's all downhill from here, ladies. You know how it goes. Tomorrow the Halloween candy will be in the 75% off aisle and Christmas carols will start following you everywhere you go. Are you ready? Or do you want to pull the covers over your head til the ball drops on New Year's Eve?

Never fear! Laurie is here and they don't call her "Tip Junkie" for nothing! She is happy and hyper and full of holiday help for us all. Here are her festive ideas...

1. OK, Tip Junkie! Lay it out for all of the overwhelmed moms out do you get from Hallo ween night to New Year's Day without having a nervous breakdown? (In other words, what's the game plan for gearing up and getting organized for the most hectic time of year?)

HA! No matter how prepared you are ahead of time, we all feel the stress and have those freak-out moments. However, to give yourself a fighting chance you’ll need some good planning and solid deadlines.

It’s worth taking a day or two to write down all the parties, events, birthdays, gifts, and dinners you’ll be participating in over the next few months. Break it down according to months and go from there.

1. I hate recreating the wheel and having to re-think or re-plan things unnecessarily. So, I’ve made some planners you can print out for free over on Executive Homemaker. They are easy fill in the blank worksheets that you can hole punch and throw into a binder. It also helps you keep track of what you’ve already done in the past. Therefore, it saves you time, money, and keeps you consistent and thoughtful.

Thanksgiving Planner

Christmas Planner which includes:

Family Gift Planner
Extended Family Gift Planner
Friend Gift Planner
Memory Planner

Include in your planning binders all your favorite holiday:
· Recipes,
· Menus
· Party plans and agenda’s
· Invitation ideas
· Tradition ideas
· Family craft ideas
· Decorating ideas
· Magazine cut-outs
· Tip Junkie post print-outs
· Other pictures that inspire you

Having everything in one place will save time and get you inspired to make this season extra special. It will also cut down on having to reinvent the wheel every year and prevent you from forgetting special moments and traditions.

2. Wish Lists. I love wish lists. I have my kids make a running wish list from commercials they love. They’re constantly saying “I want that!” all Saturday morning. I just say, “Write it down.” They also love browsing through catalogues I get in the mail.

Next, I take those lists and I’ll go into or and fill them in. I’ll print them out and put them in my Christmas Planning Binder as well as e-mail a copy to all the Grandparents. {{we have a bunch}} This way each child gets what he actually wants from theGrandparents and I don’t have to answer several phone calls of “what do the kids want this year”.

These wish lists also help me in my budgeting. I simply X out what I buy on the list. This way each kid gets the same number and around the same price range in gifts. {{no jealousy Christmas morning}}

3. Getting things accomplished, ordered, and made before Thanksgiving will also minimize your stress and budget.
It’s great to have a solid deadline to work towards. Keep in mind, last minute purchases and shipping will be costly. So it literally pays to have things ready early. You’ll have something extra to be thankful for this year when you’re coasting through December, enjoying the moments with your family.

I have several family members with birthdays in December. This is a huge stress for me. Planning ahead of time and shipping things before Thanksgiving, even if it’s early, is worth its weight in gold.

4. Plan for the unexpected with a Holiday Box.
Save yourself extra trips to the store and having to purchase more expensive last minute items by being prepared ahead of time. Put all of these times in one box so you’ll have them at a moments notice. The plus side is even if you don’t use them this year, you’ll have them for next year and you’ll know where they are. {{wink}}

I’ve already mentioned December birthdays. This also goes for your kids friend parties. Stock up on a couple gifts and have them handy in case of an invite.
It seems like the kids have a couple book exchanges for school or pre-school. Stock up on a couple cheap books so you have them handy.

Ornament exchanges are also big. Buy these early, before mid November, so you’ll have the least expensive, but most fabulous, ornament to exchange. Also, buy the wrapping for it the same time you buy the ornament. This way it will fit and your packaging will be just as fabulous as the ornament. It will also save you a ton of time the night of the party.

Teacher gifts. Plan them, make them, or buy them now.
White elephant gifts. Do you attend a party every year that has a white elephant gift exchange? Take some time to think it through and buy one that’s extra fun. Also, keep this in mind while you’re doing your shopping. If you find something that will work, get it then. Don’t wait.

Emergency Neighbor gifts. Have you been in a position where a neighbor or friend comes over to give you something and you don’t have anything in return? Oops. I have and it’s uncomfortable. Be sure to add this to your list and have a couple extra things in your Holiday Box already wrapped that you can pull out at a moment’s notice.

Forgotten thank you’s. Don’t forget to do something for your bus driver, crossing guard, and other people who make life a little easier for you and your kiddos. Be sure to add them to your list in your planner so you won’t forget next year either.

5. Family picture and Christmas cards.

Ugh! It’s so difficult to get the clothing coordinated, find a photographer, and get it all done. However, if you can do this before Halloween, your holidays will be more peaceful and less stressful. Find a great digital Christmas card designer from the Tip Junkie shop-a-thon and order all your cards before the 2nd week in November. Have them mailed out a couple days after Thanksgiving! You’ll be stress free and your holiday card will be the first to arrive and receive the most attention from friends and family.

2. Now, let's break it down by holiday...I know Halloween is one of your favorites. What are a few of your October tricks and treats?
It is my favorite holiday! I go OTT with the Halloween d├ęcor
I blogged about our traditions here. We usually go to a pumpkin patch and pick out our pumpkins and have a hay ride, start the Phantom every year with our friends and neighbors, go to the school fall festival, and attend several Halloween parties. I don’t usually throw a Halloween party because there are already too many scheduled during the month.

My favorite party of the month is the adult Halloween party we attend where dressing up and a skit is mandatory. My man and I have a blast coming up with our skit! It’s one of the highlights of my year.

I also made a Halloween countdown calendar 9 that we have really enjoyed doing every day.

I’ve been so happy with the Halloween ideas over on Tip Junkie this year. Be sure to check them out, I’ve spent hours researching and compiling them so you can make this Halloween extra special.

3. Thanksgiving is often the forgotten holiday. How do you make it meaningful for your family? Any shortcuts to help Mom come out of the kitchen and enjoy herself too?
I usually host Thanksgiving dinner but I tend to focus on my boys and the meaning it has for them. I have a tradition where I make turkeys out of the boys’ handprints on a place mat. Each year we use them and it’s a cool reminder of how fast the boys are growing. I usually have turkey cookie place cards, make pilgrim hats with the boys, or some other craft.

Tip Junkie has several new and creative Thanksgiving Traditions ( you can incorporate with your family this year. I really like the turkey apples. Too funny.
As far as the food goes, I keep it easy and traditional. Marshmallow pilgrim hats ,cheese ball, crackers, olives, turkey, stuffing, gravy, rolls, a yummy salad, corn on the cob, and several pies. I don’t fuss about the food or the clean up. I just want to enjoy the day with my family as well, so I keep it simple.

4. Somehow, though it's only October, I already feel like I am behind on my Christmas shopping! 'Fess up...have you finished yours already? Do you get up at 3 AM on Black Friday? What are your tips for shopping survival?
No, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping. Way to call me out. {{wink}} However, I do have a good idea of what I’m getting everyone and am in the process of finishing up some projects. Thanks to my Christmas planner, keeping things organized, they’ll all be done in a couple weeks so I can focus on the things that are more important.

Every year, I like to do organize a day when a friend comes over and we mass produce a couple gifts. I give these out to friends, neighbors, and grandparents. It’s nice to have a friend to keep you company during a big project and it makes it easier with an extra pair of hands. We each end the day with fabulous gifts and a lot of laughter.

I have gotten up early to shop Black Friday, but personally I haven’t found it worth it. I find that the best deals are on electronics, diamonds, or specific advertisements that are usually out or have 40 people waiting in line. Personally, I like my gifts to be handmade so I usually have everything I’m looking for by Black Friday.

(my crazy kiddo)

5. And what about storage? Where the heck do you hide Santa's sleighful? How do you keep track of everything? What about all the trimmings & tags, boxes & bags? How do you organize it all?
I have my handy-dandy Christmas planner to help me keep everything straight. I also print out the receipt for anything I buy online and throw that into my binder as well. This way I can keep track of what gifts I have already purchased and when they should arrive.

I also make sure I cross off gifts I’ve already purchased and keep a running list of what’s in my Holiday box and what event it’s for. This way I can keep things straight.

As far as hiding Santa’s loot, I’ve got it easy. My boys don’t peek, so I keep it all in my closet. I’m sure I’ll have to change that one day, which will make me sad. Then I’ll have to store it in the attic, which has a lock.

I have a bin that contains all the holiday gift wrapping. However, this year I’m all about fun tags. I’m planning a craft day with some girlfriends and we’ll get them all made in one sitting. I can’t wait!

6. I know you Texas gals really like to party! What are your favorite ways to ring in the New Year? Any special recipes or traditions you'd like to share?

We do like a good party. However in my family, New Years is all about the kids. We usually throw a family party and invite our friends who have children our kids’ ages. We have a balloon drop, karaoke, air hockey, darts, guitar hero, finger foods, and lots of laughter. It is low key since the kids usually aren’t. {{giggle}}

7. Finally, what are your Top Three Tips for enjoying vs. enduring the holidays this year?
Get it all planned before Halloween and document it in your holiday planning binder.
Plan some over-the-top traditions or thoughtful gifts this year. Adding some extra excitement to your holiday will be worth the extra effort.
Get everything made by Thanksgiving, including Christmas cards. This way any last minute challenges that always come up, you can deal with calmly and happily.

Also, if you’re looking for fabulous gifts, Tip Junkie is focusing on our Mom-prenuer Shop-a-thon and challenging everyone to buy from women this holiday season. You’ll be amazed at the amazing gifts and products these ladies have created. Your friends and family will be so impressed with your thoughtful gifts this year!

Happy Holidays!! {{still a bit in denial}}

Thanks, are one energetic holiday babe! Your ideas are inspiring.

Want more tips? Visit Laurie @ TipJunkie!
Check out her Mom-preneur Shop for some creative new gifts.


D-dawg said...

WOW Laurie is amazing! I am very impressed. If I took even one of these tips I'd be way more organized than I am now! Thanks guys!

Mique (as in Mickey) said...

Yay Gabi. Yay Laurie. Good job to both of you. Now I better get off the computer and get to work.

martha corinna said...

Laurie is amazing and one of the coolest people I have met in blog land.

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Jenibelle said...

Wow. I'm exhausted just reading a part of this. Maybe in my next life I will be this organized. In this life I will be happy for all of you that are. Very impressive. Wish I were you. Do you hire out?

ask the booth said...

Wow is right! You are WAY too organized! And that is why your holidays will run smoother than most of ours!! Thanks for the tips.

Lauren in GA said...

3 Words. A MA ZING. Laurie is really amazing! I agree she is truly the tip junkie...more like tip guru than junkie, huh?

Another fabulous interview, Gabi!

Anonymous said...

What fantastic ideas! You sure know a lot of dynamite people!

Shepherd Family ACAL said...

The links for the lists don't work....But GREAT ideas thanks!

Tip Junkie said...

Thank you so much for featuring me! It's such an honor to be amongst your other amazing interviewees. ;)

Ida said...

Great ideas! I especially love the "wish list" and think I will make one and hand it out to my grandchildren who I love to spoil!

Kenny and Linsey said...

this is a fabulous post, thanks for all the great ideas.

andrea said...


Bridget said...

I now have a headache and feel like a major slacker mom.

Holly said...

Whew! I am exhausted just reading about her tips--her energy and creativity are amazing.

diane said...

We made those Oreo turkeys last year. They are so cute.

Laurie has a lot of energy and great ideas.

marta said...

fabulous interview.. wow, laurie has got it together!!! am thinking she's a super santa when christmas comes around.. wink wink.

spymom3 said...

Wow! You are overwhelming! I've got one tip to add...go to for your teacher gift. It's a site for teachers to create a registry of classroom supplies that they need. Parents go online, find their (kid's) teacher, and buy something they want and need! Way cool, and way easy!

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