It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Thanksgiving is upon us which means Christmas is not far behind. Everyone is on the hunt for the perfect Christmas present for their loved ones. This is my favorite time of year, but with all the excitement, candy canes, shopping, and holiday parties, the stress level has a tendency to rise. Today we’re going to share some tips on Surviving 2016 Holiday Season! Grab some eggnog and a pen and paper, you will want to take some notes on this one.

Stay Organized

This time of year can get the best of you if you are not prepared! I’m a pretty organized person and love my planner (I know I’m old school). Whether you are like me, or you are up with the times and use your phone, stay organized! There is just too much going on for my tired Mommy brain to remember it all. Put those important dates (holiday parties, school programs, church programs, etc.) on your calendar and check it often! This way you can keep track of what is coming up and what you need to prepare for. We also have a family calendar that hangs on the wall. This helps everyone keep track of what is coming up and what we have to look forward to! Can you believe Thanksgiving is 2 week away?

Shop Early

I’m not sure how many people you shop for each year, but make a list of each person and any ideas that you have for them. Keep this list with you! Whether you store it on your phone or keep an actual list. There is a great app for iphone called Santa’s Bag. I used this last year for my family. You can create a budget and a shopping list for each person you shop for. You can add items that you’ve purchased and how much you’ve spent to hold you to your budget. This is a great way to stay organized and be successful in not blowing your budget. Start shopping early! This can most definitely reduce stress levels. I know there is a large quantity of people that are out there on Christmas Eve starting and completing their shopping. If you keep your list on you when you are out shopping, you can easily check for items and purchase them when they go on sale. I’m going to say it again “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”. This statement never lies folks! Don’t stress yourself out by waiting until the last minute. Gift giving is supposed to be fun!

Take it Easy

The lifestyle has definitely changed over the years, technology has created a sense of “I must do everything, right now, just like what I saw on Pinterest or I’m failing as a parent/human”. This is NOT true! Surviving 2016 Holiday Season 101: This time of year is meant for spending time with those you love, service, gratitude, reflection, and joy. Just Breathe! It’s ok if you don’t make it to every Fantasy of Trees event, all of the Holiday theater performances, or you don’t have an Elf on the Shelf doing cutesie, naughty things for the kids to see when they wake up.

As a family we like to choose a few of our favorite activities (maybe one new one) and work those into our schedule. If it just doesn’t work out due to schedule conflicts, then it just doesn’t work out. If you are trying to stay on a budget, there are so many fun things you can do for FREE! One of my favorite things to do each year is pack the kids in the car, sip hot chocolate and take a drive down the main parkway in Pigeon Forge, ooooo-ing and ahhhh-ing at all of the beautiful Christmas lights. While listening to Christmas music of course! Fun doesn’t have to always cost $$. Keep it simple!

Have Fun

This is the most important! Remember, this is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! There will be kids jingle-belling and… you know the rest. Don’t put too much on your plate where you cannot enjoy it. Stay organized, shop early, and remember that family time is the most important time. There are so many great ideas out there to have a fun and memorable holiday season. Whether you decide to travel or stay home, the options truly are endless. If you decide to visit the breathtaking Smoky Mountains during this Holiday season treat yourself! Between all the beautiful decorations for Winterfest, Holiday performances through Dollywood and Dixie Stampede, you are in for a holly jolly good time. Be sure to book your condo as soon as possible. This time of year fills up quickly. You may even snag a condo that is decorated for Christmas! Does it get any better than that?

Surviving 2016 Holiday Season is simple. These suggestions may be easier said than done, but I promise if you put in a little extra effort, the payoff will be that much sweeter. Reduce stress and enjoy more! You deserve a little R&R. Ho Ho Ho and Happy Holiday Season from us here in the Great Smoky Mountains! We wish you a Merry Christmas and hope to see you soon.