1. Plan your gift-buying budget and stick to it. It will keep your purchases more focused and easier on your wallet. – via the Huffington Post
2. Keep lights in working order. Be sure to test each strand before putting it away. (Replace dead bulbs, and discard strands that don’t work.) Keep all extra bulbs and fuses together in a kit. Make a loop with each strand and wrap the ends around the loop, as shown. Store each strand in its own sealed one-gallon freezer bag to prevent tangling. Leave some air in the bag to act as a cushion that will protect the bulbs. Stack the sealed bags in a large storage container - via MarthaStewart.com
3. Make small gifts in advance for teachers, hair stylists, babysitters and neighbors. I make large batches of pumpkin bread and freeze in mini loaf pans, wrapped in festive cello wrap and ribbon. That way, gifts are ready to go, and all they need is a gift tag! – Tina G.
4. Host a Christmas decorating party! The day after Thanksgiving, invite family and close friends to bring over any decorations, tree trimmings, and gift wrap they no longer use and host a swap! Then when everyone’s through swapping, serve your favorite holiday drinks and treats, turn on the holiday music and start decorating! Enlist the guys to help with outdoor lights and hard to reach spots, and let the kiddos decorate their own miniature tree. By the end of the day, your decorating is done, you’ve gotten rid of all the extra decorations you no longer use, and you’ve gained some new gift wrap and decorations! – Beth M.
5. Hire a Cleaning Service. A single day of heavy cleaning can work wonders – even if it’s expensive, consider the service to be a present to yourself. Don’t do it all yourself! Give the gift of cleaning – to a loved one, or to yourself! – Jessica B. (we couldn't agree more Jessica! Treat yourself - or a loved one - to clean carpets this holiday season!)
6. Prioritize! The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now. If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart. – via HouseLogic.com
7. Stock up on your favorite wine and get decorative wine bags. You will likely be invited to house parties and events. Some may be by spontaneous invitation. Plan ahead and stock up on a few bottles of your favorite wine and get pretty bags to put them in. Having them ready to go now will save you from stress later. While you are there, stock up on champagne for New Years Eve. – via Working Mother Magazine
8. Start a new tradition! My husband's family has a nice tradition. Besides giving a gift, we each donate to a charity in the other person's name. This is a nice way to remember what it's really all about and makes you think about those who are in need of our help..... And then we drink lots of whiskey slush! - Rosalie A.
9. Get the little ones involved! Make sure that everyone knows to let the older people park in the driveway. Have the young kids help anyone who needs assistance with bringing in presents or food.....tell them before so they are aware that they are involved and have a special job for the day. – John T.
10. Just remember it's all about friends and family...priceless! – Kim D.
11. Little Reminders. Place holiday reading material in the bathroom, and have a basket of games available for young ones. – Linda O.
12. Remember the Guests! I start cleaning and decorating the guest bedrooms in advance so I will have ample time for all the other holiday preparations. Overnight friends and family enjoy seeing holiday decor in their rooms too....especially the kids!! – Deb B.
13. Make Scents! I always have some holiday-scented candles that I light when company comes. Also, I make batches of goodies ahead of time (like fudge or cookies) and put them in the freezer...that way, if I need a last-minute gift or have some drop-in company, I'm all ready. – Sioux R.
14. All Year ‘Round. I shop during the year. If I see something I like, but don't really need it, I put it in my "gift" area, so if I need a last minute gift, I'll have something. And if I'm really on top of things, I'll prepare breakfast casseroles and freeze them as I always have out of town guests. – Lynn O.
15. Start Early! I start baking cookies as early as possible and freeze them in small baggies so that I always have some when friends drop in for a visit. – Phyllis M.
16. Stay Relaxed! I get organized early! It just seems to help everything fall into place for a relaxed holiday season. – Mary F.
We can't thank you enough for all of your great advice! Remember... if your tip is featured here, you've earned a 10% discount on your next Spectrum cleaning service! We're thankful for each and every one of you and hope you all take time to enjoy this season!
What's your favorite tip from our list? Anything you've not heard before and are going to try? We'd love to hear from you!