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Plan for the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind

Start your holiday planning early

Holiday decorations and advertising start appearing as early as October.  Christmas lists and movie marathons are in full gear by November. All of this can cause parents to panic, fretting over holiday plans, gift shopping and all the other seasonal headaches. Have no fear! Here are some de-stressing tips to help you never fear the holidays again.  

1) Organize: Create a budget. Know how much you will spend in each category: presents, cooking, cleaning, travel, etc.  Plan in advance how you are going to handle Christmas lists, decorations, holiday parties and out-of-town visitors. This is also the time to get #TeamFamily on board.  DO NOT try and do it alone and burn yourself out.  Create a list of chores and tasks around the house that need to be done.  Put the list up in a central location (usually the kitchen calendar) were everyone can check.  Let them know that with their help this can be a more joyous time for everyone!

2) Execute:  Have kids with demanding Christmas lists put a star by their top three desired items.  If you can get them, do so before they are sold out.  If they are not in stores, check online. And if something is completely out of your economic range, let your children know now that the item will not be under the tree this year.

Have the kids help with decorating.  It's always fun to have some assistance and it can become a family tradition.  Trim the tree and drink egg nog (non-alcoholic, of course) with the holiday music in the background to get everyone in the spirit.

If you're planning a holiday party, designate people to bring a dish---just make sure they are preparing something that people enjoy, because no one wants the fruit cake that always thrown away, or the macaroni from the worst cook in the family. Let those who are visiting from out-of-town help you cook. This help can create a less stressful environment for you and will allow everyone to contribute to a happy holiday celebration.

If you can schedule a cleaning person to come the day before and the day after your holiday party, or when your company from out of town leaves, do so. If not, get family members (especially teens) on board to help.

3) Pamper Yourself: When it is all said and done, and everyone has enjoyed the cooking, the games and festivities in the comfort of your home, treat yourself!  Start with a relaxing bath, with candles and turn your bathroom into a sweet escape.  If you can get to a spa, book a visit for the day after your post-holiday party/dinner cleaning and enjoy!

Audrey Griffin is a wife, mother of four, inspiring educator and parenting lifestyle consultant. Visit her website, check her out on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.