After The Aisle

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Does the thought of shopping, cooking, cleaning and entertaining for the holidays have you and your hubby feeling overwhelmed? If so, fret not; we have developed some tips to help you both handle the holiday rush with ease. Some of these suggestions make perfect sense. Yet others are little-know secrets that will help you stave off holiday stress once and for all. Are you and your spouse ready to get started? Let's go! Check out our seven tips to kick off the holiday season with ease.

By Angela P. Moore-Thorpe

Source: Christmas Cards by www.veronicamarche.com

1. Start the clock. One way to reduce holiday stress is to have a holiday calendar. Your calendar will serve as your road map. Create a binder with tabbed dividers to keep track of recipes (try http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes and epicurean.com), new decorating tips, simple gift ideas, and your to-do-list. Each weekend, you can set a date to pick up items, start decorating, or finish projects.

 

2. Send holiday cards early. Make a list of people to whom you would like to send cards. Purchase holiday cards and postage. Gather their addresses and organize in binder. Prepare cards in mid to late November, so they will be ready to go in early December. If you still haven't prepared cards, you still have a couple of weeks. Personalizing your holiday greetings doesn't have to be an all-day affair. Snapfish (www.snapfish.com) can transform a photograph into a set of 20 ready-to-mail 4x8 or 5x7 inch postcards for as little as $15 (plus shipping and handling).

 

3. Buy gifts online. You want your gifts to be personal, so try sites like overstock.com and smartbargains.com. "Shop early -- the early bird gets the best gifts and the best deals," says Kathryn Finney, author of How to Be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less. "Shop online -- not only do you avoid crowds and picked-over merchandise, but many stores like Target and Old Navy offer special items and coupons that are only available to shoppers online."

 Source: Pinterest via centsationalgirl.com

4. Organize the house. You've got shopping and errands to do, so consider having your house cleaned by a professional such as Molly Maid (www.mollymaid.com) or Merry Maids (wwww.merrymaids.com), which are nationwide. Depending on where you live, services may cost a few hundred dollars, but if you can include it in the budget, it's worth it. Next, think about how you'll entertain. Will it be buffet style, or will this be a sit-down meal in your dining room? Arrange your space accordingly, and make sure you have enough supplies on hand, such as napkins and disposable towels.

5. Prepare the meal. In order to avoid spending hours racing around the kitchen before your guests arrive, prepare dishes in advance and freeze them. Another option is to hire a caterer or personal chef, or have guests bring their favorite dish. "Setting up a coffee bar with flavored liqueurs, brandy, whipped cream, and grated chocolate adds a nice touch," says Damita Holbrook of Glam Event Solutions in Atlanta.

Source: Pinterest via carolyneroehm.com

6. Set the table. Don't wait until it's time to set the table to realize you're short four dessert spoons or in need of a big bowl for the eggnog. Once your menu is planned and the guest list is set, make a list of how many place settings you'll need. Decide which serving pieces you'll be using, and prepare for a few extra guests in case your neighbors pop over for a bite.

7. Decorate with ease. Creating a festive environment doesn't have to be hard work. "Make your front porch warm and inviting with a big wreath," says Holbrook. "Place poinsettias throughout your house. Create a smoothing atmosphere by playing your favorite holiday music. Light candles scented with cinnamon, peppermint, pine, even sugar cookies." Finally, just have fun and cherish the holidays.

Do you have any tips on how to get through the holiday season? Let us know how you're planning to spend your holidays this season in the comments below.

 

Angela P. Moore-Thorpe is an Atlanta-based writer, photographer, English instructor, and the founder and owner of APM Public Relations and The Inkwell Agency. A passionate writer-and-photographer-at-heart, she freelances for local and national magazines to include Essence, EURWeb, Black Bride, Cuisine Noir, Black Enterprise, Jazz In M.E.E. magazines and many others. She pens articles on celebrity profiles, art, music, business, travel, entertainment, health, self-help, politics and consumer-related issues. A native of Florida, she enjoys traveling, photography, music and art. She is busy penning her first book, which is due out summer 2015. Visit her website at www.apmpublicrelations.com.