5 Great Ways to Avoid the Holiday Crazies

Christmas will be here again before you know it. My mom is already starting to look for Christmas presents (and it’s barely spring as I write it!). Of course the Holiday Season is always the most wonderful and touching and cozy season—but all of that coziness and good cheer also means that things get BUSY. Parties, family, presents, recitals, decorating, graduations, travel… With everything going on, it can be easy to get stressed and lose track of the things that really matter. Fortunately there ARE some great time savers that can take some of the edge off the Holiday crazies coming soon.

Here are a few:

1. Black Friday shopping is absurd. If you are planning a long day of shopping, fresh off your turkey coma, take a few minutes to sketch out your destinations on a map. Then, when you are ready, start at your #1 door buster location and proceed through your stores in counter clockwise order. It sounds a little funny, but in fact it means you will only be taking right hand turns. Since left hand turn lanes will always be your biggest wait times in crowded mall parking lots and intersections, this is a big deal and can help more than you might think.

2. Save some time on your Christmas photo cards by using a candid photo or a photo of your family having fun, instead of going to a sit down photographer. You can take that picture, go to invitations.michaels.com or another online source, and plunk it into a Christmas card template. It’s fast, the results are great, and you can customize the text however you need. Then just ship them to your local Michael’s store, and pick up the envelopes there.

3. Before the holidays start invest in a few rolls of Christmas cookie dough and other holiday treats. Making your own is always better, but in a pinch with unexpected company over, or too much else going on, they work just as well!

4. Stock up on wrapping paper early, and go with plain jewel tones or nondescript patterns. There are a few reasons. The paper looks great, is cheaper, and you can use it for EVERY party. Birthday, Easter, Christmas with family, religious Christmas, office Christmas… you never have to second guess yourself, especially with some complementary ribbon colors.

5. Most online retailers let you ship gifts straight to their recipients, complete with gift wrap and a personal message, and return instructions too. It’s a fast way to get things done, and you don’t need to pay for shipping twice if they live far away. Give it a try!

6 Memory Projects Perfect For The Digital Age

6: Digital Canvas Printing

I’ve seen more and more these popping on friends walls these days as they provide a great alternative to normal photo portraits. By using a special printing system your chosen service can take a digital photo and apply it to canvas, the material used in oil paintings and portraits. This results in a portrait of your chosen size in great quality, but with the same texture and vibrancy of a classic painting.

5: Digital Photo Collage

Regular photo collages are a lot of fun, but like all photo projects done by hand you need to print a fair number of pictures first, to make them work, and they can get messy. Instead try taking a regular presentation program, or else a photo editor, and set the size of the canvas for the size of your project. You can then start plugging your edited pictures in, add the effects and fonts you want, and have it printed through your local office supply store to grace whatever wall or door you want to make your own!

4: Online Annotated Scrapbook

Think of it as a presentation, but instead of quarterly earnings or the history of the Crimean War, you are including your own life, love, and memories for your family and friends to enjoy. These online scrapbooks are great places to design and store your wedding slideshow and other big personal moments, so that people who are far away can still look in. There are plenty of places online to host these scrapbooks for free, and you can include your own title slides and captions as well.

3: Photobook

Photobooks are just like traditional scrapbooks, except that you design and perfect them online through a program before having them printed off and mailed to you. The advantage, of course, is that it feels like a real book. The pages are thick and glossy, the printing is uniform, and there are no plastic sheets to deal with.

2: Digitally Designed Wall Calendars

So where do you look at pictures every day besides frames and photobooks? You look at them in calendars. Why settle for a stock calendar when you can go online and have your own scrapbooking calendars printed, complete with all your best memories from the last year? They can also be great for offices and organizations, and can help get employees psyched for big upcoming annual events.

1: Digital Picture Frame Album

There are options here, and they have more to do with hardware. You can set up a computer monitor with a picture frame or get a dedicated digital picture frame, and with it and a memory card have and endless, slow-changing slideshow of your best memories. It’s like 1000 pictures in one!