Happy Holidays – Four Secrets to Staying Sane

Today’s picture is from Moozlehome.com, run by Kate, another global nomad. I am in love with her teepees, and wish I she had been making them when the Wiggy and Feisty Ones were little..


1. Planning. In the chaos of list making, card writing and wrapping, it’s easy to forget what it is we really enjoy about the holidays, and wake up three days later with a huge sense of disappointment because we didn’t really get what we wanted. And I’m not going to start lecturing you on the ‘spirit of the season’ or how consumerism has taken over, because that’s irrelevant – it’s what makes your Holiday special that counts. So a huge Thank You to Karen McCall, who has put together her 2011 Holiday planner, a workbook for working out just what floats your holiday boat, and a financial spreadsheet to make sure that you are not underwater come the New Year. We did it in our family, and the results revolutionised Christmas. Here’s what came out:

The kids just wanted the one present that they had asked for, and a stocking of small surprises. (Big surprises have a habit of going badly wrong in our house.)

  • We all hated the turkey. (So we had egg and chips instead.)
  • We all loved the decorations, and we wanted to be at home to enjoy them.

And that was it. Seriously. It turned out that all the mad gallivanting, the overspending and the hours spent slaving over a dead bird were wasted on everyone, so now we have bagels with smoked salmon for breakfast, and spend the rest of the day eating canapes and spending time together. Bliss.

Remote Controlled Shopping. It’s not just Amazon and Ebay that can make your life easier, it’s also the supermarkets, the local retailers and Moonpig – especially when you are thousands of miles from your family. When we are home for visits, I take note of good local retailers, florists etc, and do my Christmas shopping either via email, telephone or online, which cuts out the wasted postage costs, the risk of loss and damage and doesn’t require military organization three weeks in advance.. My favorites include hampers from a local organic farm stand, a Tesco grocery delivery, and days out at local attractions. My other secret sanity saver is that I do my entire holiday food shop online and have it delivered direct to my door, while I am relaxing at home with a glass of Baileys. You need to book the time slot early, so get organized as soon as you can, and this is strictly for those who are willing to have a bit of leeway on the size of the Brussel sprouts. If you are nervous, do a test shop in advance.

Photobooks. Those of you who know me will be well aware that I consider scrapbooking one of Dante’s rings of Hell, but surprisingly, I am a fan of photobooks, for a number of reasons. Firstly, they force me (or any other family members that I can coerce) into choosing the best photos of the last year / holiday / event, and upload them to a third party site, thus ensuring that I have a record of happy days stored somewhere safe forever (I’m all for multitasking). Secondly, I love having a small, attractive, well curated selection of photos on my own coffee table. And third, once you’ve gone to the not overwhelming effort (most photobook sites are wise to the fact that most people’s attention span is no more than 20 minutes), you can share it with as many people was you wish, either by gifting them their own copies, or by sending them a link to browse through on line and buy their own should the urge take them. They are open to endless customizations – current projects of mine include family cookbooks, holiday souvenirs, and I’m thinking of a worst case scenario one with photos of our many disasters.. I use Costco.com, but other good places to start are Shutterfly,  Snapfish and MyPublisher.

Cozi. I love this website. It keeps your calendars, To Do lists, a journal (I use mine for long term goal setting) and multiple other features that I have yet to discover, and displays them all on an easy on the eyes screen. The three key features that make it a miracle in my eyes are that it is incredibly easy to use (enter an event and a date in one sentence, and it works it out for you), edit and update (it syncs wirelessly with a Cozi app on your phone); once you have entered contact details for the rest of the family it automatically emails / texts them any reminders set for that event and you are able to send text messages directly from the home screen, so when inspiration or panic strikes, you can share the love without ever having to find your phone. And did I mention the best bit? It’s absolutely free.

While I write this, I have realised that I can put all the chores in the calendar, set reminders, and the entire family will receive personal text summonses. Genius. Obsessed, moi?

Happy Holidays!!


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