Holiday Prep 101

2012-12-28-014I really hope this post does not cause people to cringe like they often do at department stores the day after Halloween. Holiday prep time is upon us, but it can be disheartening to think about because we are still enjoying Fall days and do not want to forget about Thanksgiving. If it helps, there are only six more Fridays until Christmas so really Family Footnote is doing everyone a favor by bringing up the subject of holiday prepping. You’re Welcome!

Shopping for Presents

The biggest part for me regarding holiday prep is getting my shopping list in order. I do not like to leave things to the last minute and could never imagine looking for gifts on Christmas Eve. Last year I tried the trendy Facebook post I saw that laid out a way for a parent to buy four presents per kid and not go overboard in the toy department.

The list goes:

something-they-wantSomething They Want (*Go big or go with your gut!)

Something they Need (*I got my daughter’s flannel bed sheets last year with Disney characters and they were a hit!)

Something to Wear (*Clothes are obvious, but there’s also jewelry, ear piercing gift card, swim gear, sunglasses, etc.)

Something to Read (*Books are great, and don’t forget audio books or e-books.)

This list kept me so focused last year, especially since I like to make sure my kids get the exact same number of gifts. We already have too much stuff, plus they get spoiled plenty by grandparents, neighbors, and friends. I do the above mentioned four presents from my husband and me, and then of course Santa’s gifts are separate.

I also love the idea of supporting small businesses, especially if you are going the gift card route. My local coffee shop is like a second home to me and my kids. I try to always buy a few gift cards from them versus Starbucks because it is a way to show local support.


I learned my lesson early to keep Santa gifts small because otherwise old Kris Kringle gets all of the credit for giving the coolest gifts. The past few years at my house, anything from Santa had to fit in a stocking. Toy cars, Shopkins, coloring books, cool pencils, sweet treats, gift cards, magazine subscriptions, jewelry, etc. make for great stocking stuffers.

I also read an article awhile back regarding Santa that was written by Alice Gomstyn. It centered around a Facebook post that pleaded for parents to take credit for giving their kids the more expensive gifts (like cell phones or video game players) and not mark them from Santa Claus. It is hard for families stretched thin financially to explain to their young children why Santa gave their friend a Fit Bit watch or electric scooter, and only gave them a stuffed Teddy Bear and puzzles. Something to keep in mind!

Getting It All Done

holiday-prep-4Holiday prep can include a lot of details that are stressful to the head of the household. I am not big on decorating for holidays, but I do it at Christmas time for the sake of my kiddos. I cringe at all the work that goes into hauling up decorations from the basement, detangling lights, and assembling our fake tree. However, seeing the happiness on my kids’ faces when they find our Elf on the Shelf and put the nativity set made by my mother-in-law on display is pretty priceless. I always try to do holiday decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. The decor goes bye-bye right after New Year’s Eve. I keep it all in totes, so when I put the Christmas stuff on display, the staple household decor gets put in the tote for a six week hiatus. It makes swapping them back out for each other much easier.

holiday-prep-3Christmas shopping takes organization. Almost eight years ago I started the best tradition with some of my friends. We take a weekend in December and visit a mall in a big city. We split a hotel room and all of us holiday shop until we drop. It takes the stress out of what can sometimes be a chore because we are all together and having fun. We share coupons and discounts, plus bounce ideas off one another. Mid-afternoon lattes and a late night happy hour are usually our reward for a job well-done. All of our spouses love this event because it gets them out of having to help with shopping duties.

Take the Holidays in Stride

It may sound like I have it all together for the holidays, but I don’t. Life is busy, and sometimes it is hard to do everything on one’s holiday list between the winter programs, family gatherings, shopping, cleaning, decorating, and more. I have come to grasp that it is completely fine to not get it all done. No one is going to cry or remove me from their Christmas card list if they don’t receive a delivery of homemade goodies. I am also not going to get taunted for having zero outdoor Christmas lights on display.

holiday-prep1I used to make home-made pumpkin bars from real pumpkin for my neighbors in mid-December every year. I live in a great area, and end up baking for a lot of awesome people. Pretty soon pumpkin bar making is a two-day event. So some years, I just do not make them. Or I make something easier, like yum-yum bars (which you can’t mess up and my daughters can offer true help with the baking process). Or sometimes I make nothing and watch Prep & Landing (a great holiday cartoon) with my kiddos.

Candy making and cookie decorating is awesome, but they should not be stressful events. I don’t think people need to beat themselves up if they have an unforgiving schedule and can’t get it all done. A holiday to-do list should not wreak havoc on a person’s mood.

holiday-prep-2The holidays can be tough and may lead a person to be stretched pretty thin. Prepare early and do the best you can for it…and when the holidays arrive try to enjoy them.

How do you prep for the holiday madness? Let us know by leaving a comment, and if you want to know Kelly’s recipes for pumpkin bars or yum-yum bars…just send an email to

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