Remember when we were kids and the holidays were all magic and treats, snowflakes and candy canes, delights to unwrap around every corner?
Once you grow up and have your own kids—while simultaneously managing a job and all your other grownup responsibilities—the magic gets lost. The holidays become a source of major stress.
We want to provide our families with that magical experience, but somehow, our to-do list spirals out of control and we’re left feeling overwhelmed. (There’s a book for that. We recommend it as a gift to yourself, your spouse and maybe even your boss.)
Here at Working Moms Against Guilt, we believe it’s time to STOP THE MADNESS. Forget the idealized holiday season shown in media or playing in your own head.
How about aiming for a “good enough” Christmas, or Hanukkah, or whatever you celebrate, instead? If you’re ready to cut a few corners in order to actually enjoy the holidays with your family this year, let us be your guide.
Here are the holiday hacks we use to make the season bright—for our families, friends and most of all, for us.
Editor’s note: Be sure to bookmark this page and come back often, as we’ll be adding more holiday hacks throughout the month of December.
1. Order your gifts online.
If you don’t have to battle the crowds and traffic of the mall to shop for holiday gifts, that saves you time, gas and headaches. Why not do it over your lunch break or while you catch up on Scandal episodes instead? Check out our all-online gift guide for the kids, including stocking stuffers.
2. Team up for teacher gifts.
We adore and appreciate the brave women and men who teach our children every day. That’s why we think it’s swell to give them something nice for the holidays. But why does it have to be a major hassle or budget-buster? Get together with the other parents and try one of these teacher-approved gift ideas.
3. Flex your holiday work schedule.
Request or take the time off that works best for you—if you can, of course. You might decide it’s worth it to work on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, or take off the week before Christmas, or coordinate with your kids’ school schedules. See how you can make your holiday schedule work better for you.
4. Digitize the traditional gift list.
Capture all your kiddo’s desires for toys, games and more with a digital wish list that can be easily shared, shipped and updated. Plus find out a secret for younger kids that helps redirect their rampant greed in a more positive, visual way. Find out how to create a new kind of Christmas gift list.
5. Manage the time crunch.
What mom doesn’t feel the holiday time crunch this time of year? But with the help of key apps (and even your kids), you can remember what you need to buy, get your groceries, complete your work and have time to spare. See these tips for managing the holiday time crunch.
6. Balance holiday prep with business travel.
As if the classroom parties, school breaks, and holiday gift exchanges weren’t enough, business travel during the holidays makes this month ripe with opportunities for extra stress, and guilt. We’ve got some holiday hacks to help reduce stress and manage the holidays even while you’re traveling for work.
7. Prepare yourself for close encounters of the annoying kind.
This holiday hack is more about peace of mind than time management. It’s a reminder that you probably will have to deal with annoying people this month. Why should you think about this before you absolutely have to? Get some instructive (read: hilarious) animated GIFs here so you’ll be ready.
8. Have a contingency plan for unexpected gifts.
You know when your lovely neighbor or delightful playdate friend “stops by” and delivers the most thoughtful gift—and you’ve got nothing but a smile to offer in return. We have a super handy solution for that. See our favorite go-to gift idea for those just-in-case situations.
9. Keep your work-life juggle in check.
It seems like managing work and the extra “life stuff” during the holidays gets harder and harder as the kids get older. They have more commitments with friends and school, and you pick up more commitments, too. Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way to help with work life balance during the holidays.