Relax Folks

Christmas is one of those celebrations that seem to fall squarely on the shoulders of most mothers (sorry dads, for the generalization).  Many of my mom-friends complain that their husbands must truly believe in Santa Claus because when they wake up on Christmas morning all of the presents are bought, wrapped and sitting under the tree.   The turkey is defrosting and the all of the fixings are waiting in the fridge and the table is set, all ready for the flurry of guests expected to arrive.

To imply that the holidays can get a little stressful is an understatement.  It doesn’t take a sociologist to figure it out – anyone with a set of eyes and  decent hearing can play witness to the fact that there are some seriously crabby women out there (maybe it’s just in my neighbourhood?).

Just last week I overheard a woman on her cell phone sobbing to her friend about how exhausted she is navigating her family’s politics.  A friend of my son’s, his mother, is a complete wreck trying to juggle present shopping and baking treats for the school sing-a-long with her full-time, high stress job.  And need I mention all of the maniac drivers cursing under their breath?

Relax folks.

This year I have found the holidays somewhat less stressful – even though our home is bustling more feverishly than ever before.  Here are some of the tips that I can pass along to make your days a bit more merry and bright,


On-line shopping

Last year I did about half of my shopping on-line.  This year, I bumped it up to 80%.  Most stores have incentives to shop on-line like steep discounts, free shipping and easy returns.  Also, on-line shopping is usually fully stocked, so you don’t run into the issue of having to try a different location for a specific colour, style, size, etc.

The best part of on-line shopping is that it can be done from your home, while you’re in your sweats and your kids are sleeping.

Tip:  Keep one credit card exclusively for on-line shopping.  This can minimize hassles should your information be compromised.

Local Shops

A fantastic time saving tip is to shop locally.  Forget the mob-scene at the mall and fighting for a parking space, simply walk over to your local shops and make nice with the employees.  Generally these shops have knowledgeable staff that is willing to work through your list with you, helping to find the perfect gifts.  I have found that many smaller shops welcome costumers to call in advance outlining what it is they are looking for.  This can further speed up your shopping time and reduce your stress level.

Bonus: Shopping at smaller shops is a great way to support your local economy.

Present Time!

There is no real way to make this less painful except by saying YES to free wrapping at the register.

One way that I have found to make wrapping presents more enjoyable is to open some wine, turn on the Christmas music and just do it.

Before you start make sure that you have everything you need.  I like to keep a caddy of gift tags, tape, tape and more tape, coloured pens, scissors and ribbons handy.  This ensures that everything is in its place when I start wrapping.  Since we all can’t be Candi Spelling and have our very own gift wrapping room, a caddy will have to make do.

Take a look at this one from The V Spot Blog.

To make life easier, I assign wrapping paper to each of my boys, one for friends and one for family.  I love how the pile of colorful presents looks under the tree and the colour coding helps to keep me organized on Christmas morning.

If money were no object I would love to wrap our presents in this gorgeous red cozy cable-knit designer eco-luxury decorative gift-wrap from Luxe Paperie.

These costume labels from Paper Jacks would look great with a colourful ribbon on Kraft paper for the boys.

But since the boys have been about all things Disney since our trip to the Magic Kingdom, I am opting for the Disney characters gone festive on this affordable paper from

Party Time!

I like a good party dress as much as the next girl but since becoming a mom, my clothes buying opportunities are limited to Costco and Joe Fresh while picking up the week’s groceries.  I have found the best way to plan for the holiday party season is by picking one outfit and switching it up slightly for each event.  The reality that party guests are going to overlap is slim and if they do they will most likely envy your money-saving style.  Here is my pick for an easy pre-holiday straight through to New Year’s Eve outfit using many pieces that already exist in your closet.

Option 1:

Sequin skirt from Joe Fresh ($39)









Black tank top from Niki Biki ($25).  Quite possibly the best tank tops – the supportive material smoothes lumps!












Layered necklaces and an oversized cuff like these from Joe Fresh and at a few dollars a piece, more is more!

Opaque black tights

Black high-heeled shoes

Option 2:

Sequin skirt from Joe Fresh (it also comes in gold)











A classic white-button down shirt (that probably lives in your closet) or if you want to break the bank this tuxedo shirt from J. Crew is would be a perfect pairing.












Colourful belt (but not too glitzy or else you will look like an ornament) or perhaps this sweet belt from Claire’s for $5.









Black tights

Black high-heeled shoes or booties

Option 3:

The same sequin skirt from Joe Fresh











The Niki Biki black tank top












Black blazer (boyfriend or fitted – it doesn’t matter, so long as it fits you!) like this one from Gap for $39.













Bare legs or sheer pantyhose

Black high-heeled shoes

Hair up with dangly earrings

Statement necklace, maybe one from a fabulous Etsy shop?

One Last Suggestion

Say it with me.  Say No.

No, I don’t want to go to that party.

No, I don’t want to participate in that cookie exchange.

No, I don’t want to make a turkey.

Whatever it is that may make you less than holiday cheerful, say no.

Saying no to something means saying yes to something else!

How about you?  What are you favourite go-to holiday stress-savers?



2 thoughts on “Relax Folks

  1. I have made it a priority this year to shop local. I still think it was the right thing to do, but it definitely didn’t save time: with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old in tow–a 2-year-old who insists on walking everywhere–it was agonizingly slow. The kitchen supply shop on the other side of the neighbourhood was a tantalizingly inaccessible goal for days. And it took real commitment to verify authors’ names and titles on the Chapters website, try not to see the “30% off!!” and “Free shipping!!” banners everywhere, and lead the little troupe up to the local book store (repeatedly, of course, since I am not organized). Still, it was nice to be greeted by name every time I went into the book store, and I’m sure I couldn’t have found the products or the help I got in the two local toy stores. And it all felt right!

  2. Great post BA!
    I too, am being swallowed by the stress monster, but trying my hardest not to! But knowing that I still have an iPod touch to program before the big night, and a big turkey dinner to cook on Christmas Day (my first one, everrrrr), plus still two more nights of driving to hockey this week, I just don’t know when the time to enjoy the holidays will begin….but I’m trying!!!

    I normally love online shopping. But this year, I did 0% of my shopping online for Christmas, and I have no way to explain the phenomenon. It would have been a lot easier, but I work very close to the mall and all other retail stores one might need to frequent (future shop, walmart, etc), so each lunch hour as been a new adventure! Next year, I am to ramp it back up to the 80% mark like you!!!

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