1. Be realistic.
Let go of the “It’s a Wonderful Life” theory, the pressure from society and media, and the pressures we put on ourselves. Don't try to do everything yourself. When you need it, ask for help. Delegate tasks to members in your family. You can even consider hiring help just for the season. Remind yourself the importance of planning and being organized.
2. Create a holiday time line.
Put a plan in place considering your holiday vision, traditions new and old. Remember, it's okay to change the way your family celebrates holidays by trying out new traditions in place of old. Be honest about which ones you'd like to continue or move away from. Also have a family meeting to discuss everyone's top three activities to do over the holidays, including watching movies, seeing lights, or baking. Then grab your planner and schedule time for these. Don't forget to allot time for shopping, sending your cards, and gift wrapping. If you don't make the time for these, you'll end up wasting precious holiday time (read: Christmas Eve) on these.
3. Keep a positive attitude.
A surefire way to maintain the holiday spirit and keep positive is to remember the things you and your family are thankful for beyond the Thanksgiving season. As a family, write down everything you are grateful for and post it where you can see it. You can keep a notebook or journal as a "Gratitude Book" and write down what you're thankful for -- even the little things. If you're going through hard times, make it a point to practice being grateful because good things can come out of bad situations, and there are always important lessons to be learned. Be sure to ask the kids what they are grateful for by asking them questions like: What was the best part of the day?
4. Avoid the 'Gimmes.'
Brainstorm how you can bring back the true meaning of the holidays. Teach your kids about needs and wants. Explain to kids how much certain things cost and ask them why they are asking for certain items. Do you remember which toys you got as a child or do you recount the memories? Have the kids create coupons for their grandparents or loved ones to let them experience the joy of giving.
5. Who gets a greeting card?
Pare your list of recipients to include family and people you occasionally see face to face. A quick and easy way to send to a large number of people is to send an e-card or messages on social media.
6. Know it's okay to say 'no.'
If you're asked to host a dinner party and you simply have too much on your plate already or are not up for playing host, be honest and simply say so. Should you want to entertain, consider your party size and remember you can always ask guests to bring something for the party - dishes, desserts, treats for the kids, etc.
7. Don't get too wrapped up in wrapping.
Let the kids help you wrap gifts, even if that means you giving up your title of being the "perfect wrapper." Get creative and recycle shopping bags as gift wrap if you are running low on store-bought gift wrap.
8. Make it easy for next year.
Store items in bins with labels on both the top and sides. This will make it easy to locate what you're looking for next year. If you are sorting through your holiday items and you come across one that you don't like or have not used last year, donate it. There is no reason to use up good storage space.