Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Get More Done With These Holiday Time Saving Tips

Andy Williams says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year," but for many, holidays are stressful! 

Just listen to the long list of things going on in his classic Christmas song:

holiday greetings, gay happy meetings, friends coming to call, parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting, caroling out in the snow, telling scary ghost stores and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.   

All of this AND our loved ones are wonder our hearts are glowing and everyone is  telling you to "be of good cheer."

What our friend Andy forgot to mention about this wonderful time of the year, is that, in addition to all of those great things, most of us are also:

holding down a full time job, managing kids, pets and/or significant others, shopping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, baking, doing laundry, attending recitals, school performances and company parties, wrapping gifts, and packing for vacation.  Funny, no one wants to sing about that.  

So, what are we to do? 

Keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart... and think of every possible way to cut corners from now until January. Here's a little help from me to you.

15 Ways Your Computer Can Help You Cope This Holiday Season

1.  Have the kids make a gift registry online: use Target Kids' Wish List or  Toys R Us Wish List; share the lists with anyone who may be looking to purchase a present for the little darlings this holiday season; you can even access the lists from your mobile device- just download the app

2.  In a pinch? Instead of sending Christmas cards, post a family photo on Facebook: this will save you time and money- no rummaging for addresses, no writers' cramp and no postage necessary

3. Use online banking services to skip the trip to the bank: monitor your spending, check your accounts, make your next Visa payment, even deposit your holiday bonus check- at larger financial institutions, like Bank of America, you can do that by just snapping a photo of the front and back of the check...voila!

4. Look up recipes: yummy appetizers like Pioneer Woman's bacon wrapped crackers, Emril Lagasse's  seafood gumbo, directions on how to make a perfect prime rib, instructions for baking a sweet potato casserole, and, in case you haven't already memorized it, a step by step guide for making sticky buns- it's all there!

5. Make travel plans:  book hotels, flights and rental bookings are simple with sites like TrivagoExpedia and Kayak; you can even print your boarding pass and skip to the front of the line when checking in at the airport- now that's smart!

6.  Purchase tickets for performances or events online: in most cases, you can print them on the spot; even the worst of holiday procrastinators can pull this off!

7.  Look for ways to save money:  there are numerous online coupons, Internet discount codes and Groupons; sign up to receive coupons from your favorite retailers- you can get Bed Bath and Beyond coupons sent right to your phone...that's 20% off your next purchase- what a deal!

8.  Things getting a little hectic? Find an online meditation and chill out- one of my personal favorites is Depak Chopra- Living Carefree- a quick, 15 minute meditation could prevent a 2 hour meltdown...and we don't have time for that

9.  Learn to do anything by watching a YouTube video: I watched a 7 minute video on how to decorate a Christmas tree with deco meshmy tree is gorgeous, if I do say so myself

10.  Watch a movie:  steam a video from Netflix (it's free for the first month) and watch as you wrap presents; I did that years ago with my mom- we watched Little Miss Sunshine- it's become a holiday tradition ever since

11.  Reserve items online:  retailers like Gap, Kohl's and Barnes and Noble will let you select and reserve your items online then them pick up at the store- they will be there waiting for you when you're ready to retrieve them

12.  Pinterest:  find inspiration on how to plan a perfect party, make  your own gifts, whip up nice treats for coworkers or neighbors or create cute crafts for kids- all good things come from Pinterest!

13.  Pandora:  it's just not the holidays without great music; choose your favorite genre of music and that's it- so simple! when it's time to eat, I love the play list called Dinner Party- it's a much more reliable mix of music than might be found on your husband's iPod...sorry, Fred- I'm in charge of music this year

14. Upload photos for personalized gift giving:  you turn a funny picture of the kids into a mouse pad using the photo department at Sam's Club, or you can create a 2015 "All in One Year" photo book from Snapfish

15.  Don't just put your elf on the shelf:  use this link to see clever ways to  pose and position your elf- kids young and old have fun seeing where Santa's little spy will turn up next 

Whether it's a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, your devices (and these links) can help you save time and energy this holiday season.  Cutting a few corners by using these tips will keep you holly jolly and ready to enjoy all of the experiences that come during this most wonderful time of the year. 

Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
Calvin Coolidge