12 Days: 6 Cheapskates Dating

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It’s the holidays. We are all strapped for cash. Here’s some great (although slightly ghetto) ideas of how to feel like you are having a date night while saving that whopping babysitter fee. On the sixth day of Christmas I bring you:

6 Cheap Date Night Ideas:

1. Movie Night. We don’t have a TV in our room so we set up DVDs on our laptop and Parker snuggles in on our bed and watches his own movies on these special nights. While he does that, we can watch our own show/movie (current obsession is Breaking Bad). We are fortunate in that he doesn’t move a muscle while these movies are on and is not seen again until the credits are rolling and he comes peeking out of the bedroom, “I had a good movie.” “You did? Well, now it’s bedtime!” Your own movie night gets only slightly interrupted by stories and sippy cups, but can resume as soon as the kiddos are snuggled in bed. And, you get to go to bed at a respectable hour as well.

2. Happy Hour Meetup. Since Mike and I first met and hit it off at a teacher happy hour (that’s a story for another day I think!), I love getting out for a drink with him after work. We do this sometime mid-week and pick the kids up from day care a little later. It’s not costly and is a great check in and rejuvenates you for the night ahead. (Read: You usually end up quoting the kids and laughing about things they do so you just end up getting excited to pick them up!)

3. Babysitter Exchange. Have a friend with kids? Pick nights for a babysitter switch off. Maybe even a sleepover if the kids are old enough. It’s a great way for free babysitting and for kids to play with their friends at length. Plan months ahead for that party or wedding. Splurge on your night out instead of on the babysitter.

4. Naptime. If you are not taking your own nap, use naptime for having a nice meal together and enjoying your favorite television show or movie. It’s a time we usually leave to chores and other busy work, but you can capitalize on it as good together time.

5. Gym Date. Okay, this one is laughable. But, since having kids, an hour on the elliptical by myself sounds kind of luxurious. Also the pool and the Jacuzzi at the gym? Yes, please. The care at our YMCA is much cheaper than any home babysitter. Live it up, baby! It’s a health spa!

6. Date with Yourself. Over Thanksgiving we went to Boston. My husband and sister-in-law took the kids to the aquarium and I was left with time to myself. Time. To. Myself. I kind of freaked out trying to figure out what to do first. But here’s what I did. Got a latte. Got my book. Read my book in the lobby of the hotel. It was glorious. I was rejuvenated for the evening and for the whole rest of the weekend. Just a little me time can go a long way.

Any way you slice it, the holidays can be uber-stressful and the stress of finding the cash for a babysitter even more. Try any one of these tricks to give you a little peace of mind and of pocketbook.

12 Days: 9 Christmas Memories

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My 9 Most Blissful Christmas Memories
1. The year my brother chased a mole into a toothpaste box in the bathroom. And hated every minute of it.

2. The year there was a snowstorm and my Mom went sledding in my sister’s front yard in my brother in law’s coat.

3. The year Michael told my Mom that he loved me and would take care of me when he said goodbye to her Christmas Day. She called me in the car, “Do you know what he said to me, Bridgette?”

4. 2009. The Christmas I woke up to this face.
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5. The year my Dad got a video camera and taped every part of Christmas, or just left the camera on the tripod. Many hilarious videos of little, blonde, 6 year old me resulted.

6. The very distinct possibility that little Celia was a product of 2010 Christmas cheer. I know, I know, TMI.

7. The Christmas Michael made salad dressing for everyone in our family. On Christmas morning. In the kitchen.

8. Last year when Michael had this video ready for me on Christmas morning.

9. The year Santa brought me twin Cabbage Patch Kids. I mean, does it get any better than that?
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12 Days: 11 Pipers Piping (Well, not really)

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11 Great Gifts on the Fly

Shortcut Girl is not just about shortcuts, she’s about making your life feel like you barely do anything and still achieve pure awesome. Here’s 11 gifts on the fly for you whether they be the “OH crap!” gift when someone else gives you one and you are caught empty-handed or for a hostess of that fabulous party you are going to.

1. Mason Jars. Get one, two, three or four and fill with treats. Candied kisses, candied nuts, candy canes, holiday M and Ms, anything that looks colorful in a jar. (For nuts: bake nuts at 350 degrees on baking sheet with spray olive oil and sprinkled sugar for about 15 minutes)

2. Pump up the jam. I have never made jam but after looking at the directions online—ding, ding! You can TOTALLY do it. And you already have the Mason Jars so it’s really a cinch.

3. Single cookie boxes. In the dollar section of Target, they sell great cookie boxes. If you need a teacher or secretary gift (just a little somethin’), you can bake your own treats or find some delectable at the bakery section of your grocery store. After all: who says no to a cookie?

4. Flavored Gloss. There are flavored lip glosses at Forever 21 (not that I shop there;) for $1.80. Get an assortment and put them in mini gift bags (Dollar Store section of Target). Great little sweet gifts!

5.Cup of Trader Joe’s. Since coffee is ever so popular, putting some of the individual one cup mixes of coffee in a nice little mug for your favorite coffee lover is a cute little gift.

6. Trees. I have a co-worker who shares a love for just the right combination of peanut butter and chocolate. The Reese’s Peanut butter trees are out folks. Tis the season. Binge on them while you can.

7. Reindeer cookies. There are very few Martha Stewart moments of my life. But last year’s reindeer cookies were one of them. Big hit at the party we went to. I do have to say they can be expensive, so be careful when you get into the grocery store and start buying reindeer garb.

8. Wine socks. Buy your favorite soft pair of socks and put them around your favorite flavor of vino. Great for a hostess gift or a good way to hide the booze you are bringing to your child’s preschool teacher. Just kiddingJ

9. Christmas mixes. Mix tapes are a thing of the past, but mix CDs still have a place in our heart, right? Make one for a friend going on a road trip for Christmas or your grandmother who has not yet discovered digital music. I highly recommend Mariah Carey on this mix. Maybe even both versions of All I Want for Christmas is You.

10. White Trash Okay, I’m a little embarrassed that my Mom made this stuff and called it White Trash. But it is pretty awesome. Chex mix, pretzels and nuts all covered with white chocolate. The best is my friends asking each Christmas, “is your Mom going to make her white trash this year?” Yes, yes she will.

11. The IOU. What we don’t give enough at Christmas is our time to people. Whether it’s a visit, a lunch, a movie or making dinner together, it’s not about the gift, it is the time too. Putting a date on the calendar for your next get together with your favorite person is just what the doctor ordered.

12 Days of Shortcut Girl: 12 Toddler Tricks

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So, in order to entertain myself and my readers, I have put together a series of 12 posts, ranging from serious to sarcastic, witty to ridiculous, poignant to preposterous.

Today I bring you: 12 Ways to Survive Your Toddlers at Christmas

Whenever I tell people I have a one year old and a three year old, the retort is, “Wow, then you’re REAL busy!” It’s kind of like telling people you’re an undercover ninja. “Yes, I might seem really, really normal and have it together here at the grocery store, but you should see the mounting laundry pile at home, it’s a doozie. Actually, being here at the grocery store is kind of a little vacation. I’m just driving my cart in circles until I am ready to pick them up from day care at a socially appropriate time” (not too early, not too late).

1. The Big Guy.

I know, I know, it’s cruel. Busting out the threat of no presents is a rookie toddler Mom mistake. But, take heed, there is a small period of time that this threat will actually inject pure fear into your child, so why not make the most of it?

Some good tips: Parker has decided that there are more than just naughty and nice lists, there is also a mad list, a happy list, a sad list, a mean list, etc. He has appropriately said that only the good people (the happy and the nice) will receive presents and the bad (naughty, sad, mad, mean) do not. This is a major coup. Any time he pouts and glares at me or shows anger towards me turning off another episode of Doc McStuffins, I can say, “do you want to be on Santa’s ‘mad at your Mommy’ list? Or Santa’s ‘you don’t ever eat vegetables list’? THOSE kids NEVER get presents.”

And it works like a charm.

2. The Little Guy

I wish someone had told me about all of the craziness that is Elf on a Shelf. Like, for instance, I wish I read this blog post. Because, even though I consider myself a rather creative person, being chained to moving and putting this elf in crafty and silly positions every day is just another thing on my list that I’d neglect. I am already successfully ignoring the pile of laundry in the laundry room—don’t give me ANOTHER chore to ignore!

But, he does work. Along with Santa threats, “Eddie is watching you” threats also work. And yes, it is creepy and commercial. And yes, it is a pain, and yes, the book is written really poorly. And yes, you will disagree with your spouse about the elf on the shelf “technique.” (Side bar: Mike thinks the elf should always be up high to show his “magic” and that Parker should never be able to touch him. Ugh, this makes it hard to be Super Mom and try all the Elf positions I have seen on Pinterest. Elf cotton ball bubble bath? Elf cereal party? Elf driving the Barbie car? In other words, your rule is making me fail at motherhood, just so you know.)

3. Your Guy

Husband/Dads can be depended on for rough play, loud play and sports play. If you have a warm day, get the kids O-U-T of the house with Dad. It’s your only chance to clean that dried yogurt under the table or fold every last pair of Woody underpants (Tee Hee).

4. Date Night

For the love of all that is good and holy, at least ONCE around Christmas time you should get out with your significant other to just, well, kind of, be able to talk about where you will next hide the elf on the shelf when you get home.

5. Pump up the Volume

This is something I have taken part in thrice already this Christmas season. Blaring till your ears bleed “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in the car with silent and slightly deafened children in the backseat. Just look in the rearview mirror, that’s Christmas spirit you see.

6. Run, run, run, run.

Many Moms have the same focus for their afternoons: Tire the heck out of every toddler in sight so you can have an early bedtime and watch more Breaking Bad.

Other Tip: My son has started soccer and we have found that his endurance is not that great (read: he lies on the floor during practice?). So, we have started doing some laps with him on the indoor track at the high school. A. Hilarious watching a three year old run the track. B. Makes you look like “one of those parents” who get their kids into psycho exercise at a too early age. Either way, fun to see what kind of looks you get.

7. Be cognizant of Toddler Time

“Next week,” “in two weeks” and “Christmas” all mean the same thing= NOW. Don’t mess with telling them what’s coming up in the weeks ahead. Let’s just take this day by day. My son actually started crying three days after Thanksgiving because he realized he never ate any turkey. They aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders when it comes to concepts of time.

8. Don’t use up all your carrots too soon.

Pace yourself. If you bake all your cookies, see all your Santas and do all you’re decorating before December 6th (I did), what the hell are you doing for the next 19 days?

9. Car Survival Kit

So that you can go anywhere you want when you throw those two tots in the car and take off, make sure you have a Winter Car Survival Kit (has nothing to do with being stranded with a broken car).

  • Goldfish
  • Wipes
  • Nutri-grain bars
  • Diapers
  • Plastic bags

You know why. You will get stuck “just picking up a few things” and feel like fast food might be your only method of making it through the night. No way, Jose. That’s only for emergencies. Give them some of these no-fail car snacks and you are good to go. And you’re good if they go— in their pants.

10. Toy Storage

It’s important to do a “where is _______gonna fit?” survey before the big day. Clear out old toys, toys missing parts, toys that are annoying or toys your kids fight over and make room for the ridiculous ones you know that big guy is bringing.

11. Embrace your addiction to creating a Baby Gap model.

Winter gives you the chance to layer the crap out of your toddler and give him all the accessories needed to be C-U-T-E. Zip sweaters, puffer vests, fancy hats and mittens. Just live it up, this time only comes once a year.

12. Chocolate Anything.

This is for you. Just eat it. The carbs and the sugar are cancelled out by the number of calories you burn shuttling around little people on your hip. Don’t think about it for a minute.

Mommy Guilt: Tis the Season

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This post is a huge shout out to my Mom who made every Christmas magic for me. It’s also a culmination to three different blog posts (and one TV show) I read this week that shared a common thread. It brought back some things I wrote in these two posts of my own as well. The underlying message is consistent: Take time for yourself, be kind to yourself and Gosh Darnit, don’t let your egg nog curdle while you are sick in bed with classic case of Guilt-itis, the Mommy strain.

Christmas time is when we relive all our greatest holiday memories, evoke intense emotional nostalgia and hyper-focus on our family. Christmas can bring on powerful feelings ranging anywhere from psychotic happiness to “I think I am going to eat my feelings in peanut blossoms and hibernate.” Full on raging holiday hormones. Wrapped, ever so perfectly, with tight tight tight ribbons of Mommy guilt.

My parents separated when I was eight, making most of the Christmases I remember being with a single Mom. And, every Christmas was full, not just of presents and cookies and a great dinner— but of that je ne sais quoi of holiday time— the gushy squishy lovey-ness of yule.

That being said, I cannot imagine the Mom guilt my Mom endured in her years raising me. I saw a lot of it firsthand– the presents born out of being at work late, the fast food dinners, the extra hugs and kisses. She must have been shrink wrapped in Mommy guilt. Right down to her nylon wearing, pink high heeled peep toes.

You see, the disease of Mommy guilt exists because of this: Moms thinking about what they should be doing as Moms versus what they are actually able to do. They measure themselves against “Fun Kid Kraft” pinboards they see on Pinterest rather than the content of their very own amazing talents and sparkling personality. Whether it’s more time, more money, more hugs, more kisses, more listening, more loving or just more talking to your kids. We all agree that we need to probably do more of it. And any stolen time we are not doing something Mommyish leaves us feeling somewhat selfish and also simultaneously panic stricken— what should I do? There’s too many options!

And no matter how much we acknowledge it to ourselves, our friends and even our spouses, there it is glaring at us while we sit eating Halloween candy alone in the bathroom. You? You call yourself a mother? It says. Pfft. Do you know the Festivus is at preschool tomorrow? Did you know you’re signed up for “snookies”? (That’s snowman cookies, it’s a thing).

And we sit, like children in the principal’s office and think, A good Mom would ______. A REALLY good Mom would _______. And we leave ourselves out of the sentence, because the things we do that are good are never glaring at us so authoritatively.

Here’s the conundrum: Parenthood, like childhood is fleeting. We are only actively parenting for a limited amount of time. There will be days when we will long for our children to call us, visit us and spend time with us. So, shouldn’t we squeeze in all the time with THEM before it’s too late?

(I don’t really have the answer to this question but I am going to pretend to for a minute).

Yes and no. You ideally want to give your kids the best you— the most financially, mentally and emotionally stable you as possible. Sometime that requires more sleep, more time at work, more candy by yourself or even more time with your girlfriends or other family members. There are things that make us into a more well-rounded person. And (gasp!) many of those things are separate from motherhood. While we take our work hats off at a certain time every day (and I know for some of you this is hard too), our Mom hat is always on. And man, it’s on tight. With a childproof cap. And a double knotted bow.

So when you hand over your Mom self, make sure you pay attention to what she needs too. Yes, you should get a babysitter so you can boogie down at the office Christmas party. Yes, you should get the doll house because you never had one. Yes, you should buy a couple extra things for yourself and act surprised by the magic of Santa when you find them in your stocking (this ritual of mine is a personal favorite ). And yes, you should get a holiday themed manicure. Sparkle it up, girl, you deserve it.

But…no, you should not feel guilty for “not having that much this year” (something my mother would say to me annually). You should not feel silly for not having perfected your Christmas crack recipe for the pre-school party. And please don’t stress about how much to spend on the teacher gift, or the mailman gift, or the hairdresser gift. And no, don’t regift those earrings. They’re heinous.

Because, really, all those bad thoughts just makes you a less confident, less content, less carefree Mom. And I know you are more than that. So, take this holiday to celebrate the Mom you are and the family, however big or small, you have to celebrate with. Sans snookies, sans kid krafts, sans guilt.

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Shortcut Girl’s Christmas List and Gift Tips [Husband Please Read]

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Everyone likes a good Christmas list to buy from, right? Here’s Shortcut Girl’s list. Maybe you’ll see some things you like or some things you might randomly want to send to me just to show you care. Wink, wink.

1. Slippers. No limit to how many pairs. Since some people wear them as shoes now, they are ever-so-fucntional.

2. Bare Minerals Make-up. I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but this stuff is just great. For those bags that reveal the screaming child who was up at 3am or to hide the ever-growing number of fine lines, this is your make-up. So far, I only use the concealer and foundation but I think I might ratchet it up a notch sometime soon.

3. Pedicure gift certificate. Did you really even need that one listed?

4. Boot Socks. Socks to wear with boots. Where have you been?!

5. Subscription to Working Mother magazine. My new favorite read.

6. I like having cute dish towels. Is that weird. Here’s a dream site for towels.

7. Cute pajamas (you can get mother-daughter matching ones!)

8. New cozy robe. Why do comfy things always go on Christmas lists?

9. New snow boots. My Uggs just don’t do it anymore.

10. New book. Great author and looks like an inspiring read.

Other Tips of Gift Giving:

Know What You Want: If you want to publish your holiday list for all to see, don’t hesitate to start an account on a site like this for all your loved ones. In the area of making us all more über focused on ourselves, you can now just make a list of tons of things you want and hope that your cousin Fred actually looks it up online. I’m not saying it’s not a good idea, I just think it’s funny for people to expect people to check an online list. Hmmm.I was going to get her socks but then I saw she wanted a Tiffany vase. Pfft. How can I give her JUST socks now? It’s fun to think about the family drama that can ensue. Every year I ask for a blender and SHE doesn’t even fill out her list! Why did SHE get the blender?”

But seriously though, if you family is the type that likes to know what people want for Christmas before shopping, sharing a google doc with everyone’s wishes is a great shortcut. Even better, taking pictures of things you or your kids see in the store and texting or emailing the pics to parents can help in the shopping for everyone. You and your children get gifts you like and your family has some direction in the shopping mall. Win, Win.

Let Technology Help: An accomplished wife of a technology teacher, I have may tricks. One is the new Secret Santa name generator I found to organize the family name exchange. This helped us to pick names well before the holiday and sends everyone an email to refer back to when they forget.

For Christmas cards and packages, keep your addresses in Excel and import it to google docs. Then save that link to your Iphone and Ipad if you have them so you can access your addresses easily on the go. Merging the document to create labels is always nice but also sharing the google doc with other family members helps out people who don’t have up to date addresses. Tip: Make sure to go through your list and delete addresses of those who have moved so you are reminded to ask them for their new address.

Be a Personal Shopper: There are sometimes I will see something for me, my husband, my kids or another family member that is just the PERFECT gift. I might have already purchased something or not have their name for Christmas that year. However, helping others in your family by shopping for them can always be a benefit. Especially for those who have to factor in traveling and shipping costs for the holidays, having someone else do it makes for an easy solution. We do this a lot with my Mom since we have had kids. I send her a picture of what I am buying on her behalf and she is excited that she doesn’t have to physically bring it for her visit. Everyone’s happy. And you have a reason to shop with someone else’s money!

Themes and Group Gifts: Don’t underestimate the fun of having a theme for all your gift receipients for a particular year. One year, my husband made everyone salad dressing in old Grolsch beer bottles. One year, we gave everyone framed pictures of Parker (we were new parents, what do you want?) and this year I plan to make photo albums for all the grandparents. It’s nice to look back and say, “hey that was the year we gave/got __________.” Out of ideas? Not feeling crafty? Scour Pinterest. 15 minutes on that site and you will think that you can now dress like a supermodel, decorate like a Pottery Barn consultant and cook like Paula Deen. It’s like holiday do-it yourself-on crack.

Whether you are personal shopping, hoping for a pink sparkle pair of slippers or trying to figure out just the right recipe for homemade fruit infused vodka, just make sure you remember to enjoy yourself. We shouldn’t be going to all this trouble because we have to but because it makes us feel good when we get to.

Merry Christmas!

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Shortcut Girl’s Guide to the Holidays

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Whether it’s a shortcut or just a friendly reminder to take a breath and enjoy the holly-jolly-yes-by-golly holiday time, I thought I’d put together a post of things to remember from Thanksgiving through New Years. I pretend to have a lot of wisdom and advice in this post– but like most things, I’m still figuring this all out myself- holiday after holiday.

1. Free shipping is your friend

Online shopping can be convenient, but the shipping costs make the trip to the store a lot cheaper. So, going for the free shipping is always a good idea. On Amazon, place your orders in $25 incrememnts in order to get super saving shipping (free). For Target, order an extra item to make $50 for free shipping and return it later. Wal-Mart has something just as good as free shipping— in store and site to store pickup. You can ship items from orders online to the store for free and can also have items pulled from their inventory to pick up that day. All you do is show up to the layaway section to get your items. Best thing is— items are boxed up from their shipping to hide from little eyes you might have shopping with you.

2. These are a few of my favorite things

Sometimes it’s not the little kids we have to worry about having meltdowns, it’s the big kids (er, adults) too. We all have those things we perceive as dealbreakers. Holiday time is no different. Whether it is the grandmother breakfast you have arranged or the great Victorian stroll in your town, make your kids and spouse/siginificant other aware that these things are your favorite things. No one wants to see you crying in your hot apple cider because your Christmas decorating soirée went awry.

3. Wrap Party

I love to wrap and look upon the task with great anticipation. When we were young and childless, my friend Stephanie and I used to go shopping and then wrap everything that night over wine and snacks. It’s still one of my favorite things, but now I have to be much more selective when I do it. I try not to do it too early but I also like to “wrap as I go” so it’s not too much of a job at the end. I have never done this but have always fantasized about having friends and family over one day (during nap time) to wrap their Christmas items. I like it so much and find it pretty relaxing. There is nothing, to me, like listening to Christmas music or watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation during a big wrap fest. That’s the holiday to me. Feeling wrapping overwhelmed? Enlist your girlfriends, sister in laws, husbands, brothers, sisters, children. Break out the bubbly and listen to some Mariah Carey. Celebrate every part of Christmas, even the chore-y parts of it.

4. Holiday Journaling

When I open the Christmas decorations every year, my new favorite thing to discover is the Christmas journal I created three years ago. I keep family Christmas cards, favorite memories, special gifts and special traditions in the journal. It’s nice because you rediscover and relive your holidays each year and it also helps me remember the little things we have created since becoming a family. It’s a great place for reflection and will help us to clue the kids in on all the crazy things we did around the holidays before they could remember. I hope to let the kids write their own memories in there someday.

5. Don’t be afraid of new traditions

Being a kid who didn’t grow up with a ton of traditions, I am always excited to make them with my family. Excited may be an understatement. I get giddy for tradition like that Target lady gets about, well, Target. One thing my family always did Christmas morn was have bagels and cream cheese during a present “break” (This was the hardest part of Christmas morning for me as a kid, but I relished in the “we’re not done yet!” part of the ritual). We still keep this tradition at each Christmas only Michael has placed his own twist on it with incorporating lox (much to my Mom’s disgust:) Whatever tradition you are honoring or trying to honor, don’t limit yourself. New traditions can be invented every year, and even if you never repeat them- you can always give them a good shutout in your holiday journal:)

6. Give
Starting Black Friday, you and every other American are going to be swamped with advertisements asking you to buy, gift, wrap and surprise your loved ones with tons of stuff. Take the time this holiday to show each other and especially your children, nieces, nephews, neighbors the value of giving to those who are less fortunate. Whether its making a personal goal not to pass a Salvation Army kettle without digging in your pockets, or adopting an unfortunate family, I guarantee the feeling you get from that will trump your disgust in the Black Friday craziness.

7. Little Miss Homemade
You might not be able to sew a stitch or find Pinterest something like a gallery d’arts de overwhelming. But doing a homemade gift or treat for any event of the Christmas season will make you feel good right down to your toes. Take a picture of it, repin the crap out of it, brag to all your co-workers. It’s The holiday, after all. You’re an old fashioned kind of girl, and dammit, you deserve recognition.

8. Find the magic
Find your favorite little person and drive around looking at Christmas lights. Visit Santa at the mall, take a ride on the Polar Express, do a sled ride through your backyard. Read: do everything you did when you were a kid and then some. Not the things that cost money or were about gifts- the things that made you get butterflies in your stomach. That’s what the holidays are for.

9. Don’t get the blues

With the economy, the loss of loved ones or just missing your brother in Texas, it’s easy to get the holiday blues. Combat the blues with acting in that person’s memory, sending a card or video to someone who you think might need it or placing a phone call/ Face time Christmas morn. This time of year is emotionally charged and sometimes can make us get a little melancholy. One good idea is emailing someone “the 12 days of you” and give them something each day in the proper numeration that tells them you are thinking of them. It’s sure to lift your spirits and theirs too.

10. Celebrate your mate

One thing I know I can be guilty of three years into having children is forgetting that Michael is a big part of Christmas too. He really showed me up last year and had a video slideshow ready to go Christmas morning. It made me cry happy, happy tears. One of my favorite memories for the memory book. Make a special date or set aside a time to celebrate and chat with your special someone without the troop of in laws surrounding. Sometimes it’s just sipping egg nog and looking at the pretty lights, sometimes it’s wrapping gifts together (see #3). Whatever it is, just make sure you remember and appreciate each other. No gazing in each other’s eyes required.

11. Recycle

We’re not talking about your fruitcake boxes here people, we’re talking toys for the kiddos. The thing I have really gotten excited about the past couple years is using old hand me down toys or used toys as gifts for the holidays. It’s thrifty, it’s a great shortcut (no staying up until midnight putting things together!) and it’s just a great relief to you when it comes to the question, “Will they even play with it?” They may not, but based on the awesome price and the fact that you didn’t have to trample anyone at Black Friday for the deal, haven’t you already cut some corners? Plus, you can just put it on Craigslist or another local swap site next year! Gently loved toys are better if recycled, haven’t you seen Toy Story?

12. Music and Food

If nothing else, there are certain treats and tunes you MUST indulge in at holiday time. My Mom’s peanut butter chocolate candies are one and All I Want for Christmas is You is another. It’s just the holiday law.

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