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11 Tips to help busy moms win at Christmas

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






Save a busy mom's sanity over the holidays with this handy holiday guide

Christmas doesn’t just happen all by itself. Santa has a whole lot of help creating that magic — and the elves can do only so much all the way up in the North Pole.

No, Santa’s little helper is usually a tired, sore, broke and emotionally spent mama who can barely make it through Christmas dinner. But this year is going to be different. Here are 11 time-saving tips to help every busy mom handle Christmas like a boss.

1. Consider a holiday card service

Skip the licking and stamping this year by using an online service that lets you design a custom card, upload a mailing list and walk away. It’ll handle the rest. There are even services that print out cards that look like they were lovingly written by hand. If you’re comfortable with a more digital approach, use an email card service that offers surprisingly fancy custom cards and even virtual lined envelopes.

2. Hire professional holiday decorators

No falling off ladders or trying to get the knots out of strings of lights this holiday season! Instead, hire a holiday decorating service. Regardless of how much you want to spend or how elaborate you want your decorations to be, there’s probably a service in your area that will handle everything from decorating a chic Christmas tree to hanging outdoor lights even Clark Griswold would appreciate.

More: 10 Cheap Christmas tips for moms

3. Automate holiday lights

Once you’ve got your holiday lights on point, save yourself the hassle of remembering to turn both the house and tree lights on and off every day. Automate your holiday light displays on a timer, and spend the holidays enjoying yourself instead of running around plugging and unplugging every day. Make it even easier by connecting them to your smart home security system and use an app to turn them on and off.

4. Get a Christmas tree watering system

Fresh Christmas trees are water guzzlers, and a dried-out, thirsty tree is a really big fire hazard. Instead of crawling around on all fours and getting sap in your hair and water on your floor every day, get an automated Christmas tree watering system. They’re around $20, available at most big-box hardware stores and will save you one little but annoying job every day for a couple of weeks. Totally worth it.

5. Minimize food prep

I know your grandma made everything for the holidays from scratch, but honey, you aren’t your grandma, so go ahead and let yourself off the hook. Make a couple of family faves if you must, but buy the rest of the meal from a local restaurant or even grocery stores — which are increasingly offering holiday dinners “in a box.” Or just eat out. Also, take advantage of cookie swaps and bulk buys that help you keep a stash of nibbles on hand for last-minute guests.

More: 7 Ways to make Christmas less hectic and a lot more fun

6. Consider plastic dishes

Your wedding china is beautiful, but what if you could find plastic, disposable dishes you could just throw away after you’re done? A little wasteful, perhaps, but think of all the water — and sweat! — you’re saving by not doing the requisite mountains of dishes following a holiday meal. Several retailers offer disposable drink ware and dishes that are every bit as elegant as the real deal.

7. Simplify gift giving

The gift giving around Christmas is out of hand, and everyone would probably benefit from cutting our gift lists down to a more manageable size. Consider talking to friends and family about limiting (or skipping!) swapping gifts altogether — especially adults. Kids are a whole other deal. But gift lots of people the same thing, and even though it’s hard, try to manage your kids' expectations for some super Christmas gift fantasy. Besides, you being happy and relaxed and with them on Christmas is what they really want anyway.

8. Cut clutter

Before the gifts start rolling into the house, take the time to get rid of old toys and clothes to make room for new ones.

More: Top tips for having a greener Christmas this year

9. Car service apps

Of course, this isn’t appropriate for every kid or every family, but if you’re comfortable, consider letting your teen use Uber or other car service to get around to their busy holiday events. Uber's app will let you track their movements and manage the money in their account, so you have some oversight. If you’ve got a recital and holiday party on the same night, a service like Uber might come in handy.

10. Outsource school play costumes

Reach out to an Etsy shop, and have it make your kids a custom school play or pageant costume. Besides Etsy, your local tailor would also be a great place for moms short on sewing skills to get their little reindeer and angels performance ready.

11. Ban boots and shoes in the house

Winter makes nasty weather, and that mess finds its way into the house every single time someone walks through the door. If you haven’t already, get a shoe rack, put it by the front door, and make everyone ditch their dirty shoes and boots before they come into the house. Get a bunch of cheap socks, slippers or even spa flip-flops from a beauty supply store to offer guests who object to bare feet, and save yourself from having to mop up floor messes three times a day. It’s a simple fix that will pay big sanity dividends — honest.

This post was brought to you by Alarm.com.

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