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Mom's pre-holiday season checklist

10 Things to do before the holidays hit

It's a fact — there's too much to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas and not enough time to do it all. The solution? Bang out a few items on your to-do list before you turn your calendar to December 1.

1

Put your Thanksgiving finest to work

If you didn't already have some great family pictures taken over the summer that were Christmas card worthy, snap a few while your kids are dressed nicely for Thanksgiving dinner. But, as any mom knows, those button-down shirts and cute white tights are going to all come off once playtime with their cousins starts, so take those pictures before you even leave the house to head to Thanksgiving, while everyone is still in their best condition.

2

Signed, sealed, delivered

And, once you get that perfect pic, do an instant upload to order your holiday cards — in fact, this is the perfect ”post-Thanksgiving, sitting on your couch, catching up on everyone's Thanksgiving pictures on Facebook” type of activity that you can get checked off your holiday to-do list early and stop worrying about. Check out services such as TinyPrints, who will not just create your cards, but will also mail them to your loved ones for you!

3

Be the first in line

The biggest time-suck of the holiday season? The post office. Getting those long-distance packages mailed before the lines start to form, pre-December, will make you feel like you have so much more extra time when it gets closer to the big day. Find out which post offices in your area have automatic postage machines, where you can use your credit card to buy postage for packages after-hours, when the lines will be non-existent.

4

The last-minute, forgotten gifts

If you're like us, every single year you are scrambling at the last moments to pick up those little gifts that you always forget about — teacher gifts, something for your beloved FedEx guy and milk delivery man, ornaments for upcoming exchanges, and some little, generic gifts to keep on hand to reciprocate for unexpected deliveries of Christmas cookies. Shop for these gifts first this year and save yourself an extra trip out when it comes down to crunch time.

5

All is merry and bright

The most dreaded activity of the holiday season, in any household, is sure to be untangling the Christmas tree lights and making sure they're working. Instead of attacking this daunting — and frankly annoying — task as you're putting up the tree, pull them out now and get a status report on your lights. Put your teenagers to work on the task of getting working strands organized and then add a few boxes to your shopping list, if necessary.

6

Making your lists and checking them twice

Even if you aren't a list-maker by nature, the holiday season tends to bring out list-making tendencies in even the most unorganized of moms. You have to admit — making lists will help save you some time and extra trips back to the store for the holidays. We suggest grabbing a little notebook where you can keep your lists together — beyond gift lists, don't forget Christmas Eve to-do lists, grocery shopping lists and even lists of fun holiday activities!

7

Stock them now, save time later

Most people feel one way or the other — they either love doing the stockings or they don't. No matter how you feel about them, you can't deny that shopping for stocking stuffers can be time-consuming — all of those little gifts, making sure each child has the same amount of items and getting them all wrapped up, if that's status quo in your house.

8

Holiday style, done early and easy

Now is the time to figure out if your boys need new dress shoes for Christmas Eve or if the dresses that your girls insist still fit are suddenly mini-skirt length. Your kids may loathe you for it, but do a quick dry-run of holiday outfits — not forgetting about outfits your family may need for recitals and church holiday activities — then you can add necessary clothing items to your shopping lists or jump online quickly and order what they need. And, don't forget yourselves too! When was the last time you tried on your favorite holiday outfits?

9

Let them eat (fruit) cake

With all of the rush of the holidays, meals at home can sometimes go by the wayside, resulting in rushed trips to the grocery store or eating out too much. With a little advanced planning before the busyness of the holidays arrive, you can avoid it by planning some simple, healthy meals that can easily and quickly be made in the evenings or meals that you can throw in your slow cooker in the morning so that dinner is ready and waiting when you get home. Plan out your menus now and even throw together some meals for the freezer — it will take some work, but you'll be glad you did, come December.

10

And, breathe...

It's true — we're putting a reminder on your pre-holiday to-do list to relax. Moms often take the grunt of the work when it comes to the holidays and as a result, don't get to enjoy themselves from the time they pull the turkey out of the freezer to defrost until the Christmas tree ornaments are packed away for next year. No matter how much planning you do or how early you start, there will likely always be items on your holiday to-do list — recognize when it's time to put the lists away and enjoy your family for the holiday.

More on holiday organization

5 Tips to get organized for the holidays
Get organized now for a stress-free holiday season
Expert tips to stay organized this holiday season

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