(BPT) - The holidays are magical, but all that fun and festiveness can eat up a lot of your time. Don't let the joy of the season be overshadowed by a hectic schedule and too many to-do's. These 10 simple tips and tricks will help you save time so you can focus on what really matters.
1. Host a decorating party: Decorating can be extremely time-consuming, but not as much when you have help. Invite friends and family over, turn on some festive tunes and deck the house to the nines. Everyone will be in a festive mood and you'll save numerous hours you'd otherwise spend decorating.
2. Don't cook: When you want a warm, comforting meal but don't have the time or energy to cook, reach for a Marie Callender’s(R) dinner, like rich and creamy Fettuccini with Chicken & Broccoli. Made with real cream, crisp broccoli and white-meat chicken, it tastes just like homemade without all the fuss.
3. Take shortcuts: There's no harm in taking shortcuts when necessary. Need holiday cookies for your next book club meeting? Swing by the bakery instead of making them yourself. Stick to your priorities and consider convenient shortcuts for the rest.
4. Plan backwards: Set "due dates" for yourself and plan backwards to ensure you get all steps completed on time. For example, if you want your holiday cards to arrive by Dec. 22, also mark dates for ordering cards, writing the insert and addressing envelopes to ensure you stay on track.
5. Limit lists: Kids make the holidays magical, but sometimes their gift lists can get out of control. This year, have kids focus on three main things: one item they want, one item they need, and one gift for the entire family. You'll save time knowing what they truly want and kids will learn to prioritize their desires.
6. Shop early: Whether you need gifts for all your loved ones or you're stocking up on dinners from Marie Callender's for the next couple weeks, shop ahead of time to reduce stress. Marie Callender’s dinners are available at local and national retailers nationwide, which make it easy to enjoy a savory and comforting dinner at any time. Shopping ahead means you won't get stuck in long, last-minute lines and instead can go home to relax and enjoy some classic comfort food with family.
7. Get it delivered: So many companies offer delivery, it's much easier to shop for holiday items from the comfort of your own home and get them delivered than battle the crowded malls. What's more, look for free shipping promotions that retailers often offer during the holiday season.
8. Wrap as you go: Whether you love or loathe wrapping gifts, if you do it all at once, you'll be up half the night. Instead, if you wrap gifts as you buy them, you spread out the work, plus you get to display those gifts to keep loved ones guessing as to what awaits them in the future.
9. Pack light: Heading out of town to celebrate this year? Opt for gift cards in order to streamline your shopping and lessen your load. If you must bring wrapped gifts, try shipping them to the destination ahead of time.
10. Secret Santa: Instead of shopping for every family member or coworker, propose drawing names and conducting a Secret Santa exchange. That means you buy and receive one gift and don't know who it's from until the day it's unwrapped. Bonus: You save money.