One of the biggest stress relieving activities you can do, is to get your Christmas shopping over and done with before December. As you are on vacation, shop for Christmas gifts. Keep an eye out for things your family would love to receive. For example, when my daughter went to Indianapolis, she priced pj pants at the pro shop at Logan Oil field. They were outrageous. She stopped at Walmart and found Colts pj pants for less than half of the price. As her Father is a huge Colts fan, he LOVED her gift. On a small weekend trip, I found a jar of Hot pepper jelly for my Brother who loves all things HOT. He will love this as part of his Christmas basket I make for him. Shop all year round--especially just after Christmas. You will be amazed how much time you have free in December if your shopping is completed early. Also, wrap your gifts as you go. Be organized. Start a list of people you hope to buy for then mark them off when you get them completed. This will keep you on track with who and what is left to look for. It can also save you money if you budget out how much to spend on each person. Just remember to keep your list well hidden or it will become a major SPOILER!
Use a calender to keep track of all activities for the month of December. Do not accept every invitation--limit the number of activities for each child--just say NO. Your sanity will thank you for this!
Plan your menu and get all supplies in early that you can. I realize you cannot buy perishables early, but you can get your cookie baking supplies in and much of your dinner menu needs.
Let your family pitch in and help. Children love to make cookies and dip pretzels. Let them help you. I have a big cookie/candy making day in the middle of the month so I have many cookies, dipped pretzels, almond bark, candy and goodies ready at the drop of a hat for parties, gifts, or work. This is a HUGE help and the kids will never forget the Cookie/Candy day with Mom. Remember, making great memories with your children is one of the most important aspects of the Holiday Season.
Accept offers from guests to make or bring a dish for the party. They will feel good about contributing and it will take part of the load off of you.
For your holiday meal, making dishes ahead can save so much time. Again, let your littles help--setting the table is a good thing for younger children. Let the tweens help make their favorite dish. Teens can make pies, or cakes. Maybe your children will learn how much work is involved in making the holidays special, and appreciate you more! Well, we can always hope!
Hopefully, using some of the above tactics, you can relax and enjoy your holidays!