1. Get organized -- Now is the time to make a list and check it twice. Between shopping, wrapping gifts and attending plays and parties, there barely is any time left to feel jolly. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute, map out a plan of action and hit the ground running. Start by listing your top priorities, well, on top. Purchase and send those gifts that need shipped before you bake cookies for your neighbor's party that's next week. Also, know what it is that you need to buy. That way, you can keep an eye out for sales.
2. Budget -- Know your budget and stick to it. There is nothing worse than the knot in your stomach when the credit card bill arrives in January, so don't give into the temptation to overspend. If you agree to a $25 grab bag limit, don't drop $30 on a gift. Those extra five dollar bills really can and do add up. If you're on a limited budget, making your own gifts is a great option. The Betty Crocker website (bettycrocker.com) has tons of recipes for easy, adorable and tasty cookies you can bake with little time or money. Glam up your cookie plate with a cellophane wrapper and a beautiful ribbon for a personal touch. And c'mon, who doesn't love holiday cookies?
3. Keep the kids entertained -- Can you hear it? The inevitable "MO-OM! I'm bored!" Are you cringing yet? There's nothing worse than whining kids and absolutely no reason in the world to break the bank to entertain them. One easy -- and cheap -- way to keep the kids occupied is to take them to the library. T offers tons of free activities for children, not to mention books they can take home to read. If you're feeling really adventurous -- and the weather is right - bust out the snow boots and take the kids for sled ride.
Or, just play along. Let the kids help you decorate cookies or cook dinner. Go crazy, crank up the music and dance! Dress up, sing way too loud, spin in circles, tickle your kids until they pee their pants. No matter what you do, your kids will love it if you just spend time with them.
4. Enjoy -- Christmas only comes around once a year, so make the most of it. Forget that your car is buried in three feet of snow. Instead, stick out your tongue and remember what it feels like to have those tiny snowflakes melt in your mouth. Stuck in traffic? Take a deep breath and relax. You won't get there any faster by silently cursing the cars around you.
Admire the decorations, take in the sights and smells and say thank you to the girl behind the retail counter who wasn't even that helpful. At the end of the day, cuddle up on the couch with a hot chocolate -- extra marshmallows included -- and reflect on how well you were able to manage the holidays.