How to manage holiday stress gracefully and without too much wine.

Hello lovelies! Does anyone else feel like from September onwards its a mad dash toward the nothingness of January? September is all about school and paperwork, in October you’ll discover that kids have outgrown all clothes for fall, then it’s Halloween and Thanksgiving and by Christmas, well, all is not calm and bright. I am not going to tell you I know how to manage it all but I do have some good tips on how to reduce the holiday stress.

Make a list and check it twice. 

 

Photo from 11 Magnolia Lane.

I bought myself a Holiday Planner from here. It’s for 2017 but I plan to use it, well, always. Thanksgiving menu – while I might alternate some items, I usually keep it the same. I have printed out a plan for this menu, so I know exactly when to start defrosting the turkey, what to make ahead of time and when to start cooking what. It doesn’t much and it makes sense to have a standing shopping list and timed plan. I also mark down what wine worked with what dish, whether kids needed anything else etc. Same with Christmas menu or any holiday party you host. Note down what worked, what didn’t, copy down your best recipes and decoration ideas. I also like this calendar for jotting down any decorating ideas and writing down reminders to buy new timers, etc.

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Photo: SEV Design Group

Side note of decorations: I used to make my poor hubby carry out these large containers of Christmas decor (by last count I had 20 but we’ve gotten rid of some and well added some) and then proceeded to pull everything out and try to see what goes where. Ugh, it was such a mess. After organizing my Christmas decorations (read about it here), I realized I have too many and it makes no sense to bring it all up. I now try to come up with a theme and write down on my planner what goes where: colors, real or fake greenery, outside decorations etc. At least for me, having a plan makes it a little less stressful. If you need ideas, here’s a link to my Christmas board on Pinterest.

 

Buy ahead.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t hit the outlets now and get at least some of the gift shopping done now. I do a quick run to Woodbury or Clinton outlets where I can get teachers gifts, little hostess gifts, kids Christmas outfits, etc. If you know that your relatives are likely to send you a gift of sorts, buy something for them now, wrap it, box it, address it and all you need to do later is to mail it! So beats running around at the last minute when you are tired as is.

 

Thoughtful gifts: pink mace and Grandkids plaque from Etsy (did need extra time though to get all the baby photos of grandkids)

Kids are going to change their minds at the last minute but for anyone else you should buy now. And wrap as you go!!! I always stash the gifts into a basement closet, thinking I will put on some Christmas music and wrap away one evening like a blissful Elf. It never happens. I run out of tape, get all pissed off that my husband is not helping me and I am completely over it half way through. Have your supplies for wrapping in one box ready, so you are good to go. And PS! buy this handband tape dispenser. Makes your life so much easier.

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And if you and your husband exchange gifts, think of what you want now and figure out what he does, too. Black Friday morning would be great for this: get a cup of coffee and place your orders as most stores offer BF deals online as well as in stores. Do NOT leave this to December, it’ll be way too hectic and you’ll only end up getting stuff you’ll return. Do NOT let him guess what you need, quick email with links is really the best way to go. Also, do NOT over extend!

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Plan out your outfits.

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You know you’ll go to a Christmas party or two or three. Your work party, your husband’s Christmas event, neighbors get together, New Year’s Eve, what ever it is, plan your outfits out now. Hang them out in your closet, so you have them ready. Trust me, its going to make your life so much easier. I get s many emails from clients throughout December asking me what they should wear. Go get some cute sweater dresses now (red or white would be beautiful), or get ivory wool pants/skirt with a matching sweater, add festive red lipstick and voila. If you are more comfortable in all black, add some sparkle with shoes and jewelry. Make sure your kids have some outfits for their events. And schedule your hair appointments for December now, preferably during the first week. Get pedicure done – think ahead.

Prioritize. 

It’s going to be a mayhem. Even with all the planning, you’ll be a little (or a lot) stressed out. So make yourself a cup of tea (now) and then think about what this time really means to you and your family. What would your spouse and your kids really value? What would make Christmas Christmas? Are there traditions you hold dear? Do you need new ones? Think about it now. However much you plan and prepare, not everything will go smoothly but some things ought to. I’ve kept it pretty simple for us this  year. I want to take a night, unplug and spend it baking with my daughters. Since making different doughs and cleaning up (ugh how I hate cleaning up) would get me pretty tired, I am going to make the cookie dough now and freeze it.

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We are all going to go see Nutcracker and have lovely dinner afterwards. And girls are looking forward to a magic basket that elves bring in the beginning of Christmas which officially heralds the Christmas season.

Happy Holidays! Maybe they be as stress free as possible!

-haiku

Did you know how good your body is?

I apologize for not posting for awhile, work has been busy with several new clients. There are times when I love my job, I do. I love watching women transform from nothing-fits-me, my-mom-always-said-I-look-bad-in-skirts, I-am-not-that-attractive, I-am-too-fat to kind of getting closer to the mirror, twirling a bit and suppressing a smile because they know they look good. I love getting the emails after an event telling me how  beautiful they looked and how many compliments they got. How their husbands couldn’t keep their hands off of them. How their kids were surprised to see mommy in something other than Lululemon. The confidence, the joy in being a woman, the fun – I love all that. That’s the reason I do what I do.

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Top: J Crew sweater (similar here), 7 For All Mankind skinny jeans (similar here), and New Balance for J Crew sneakers

Well, not these last 2 weeks. These weeks have sucked. Client nr 1 is very pretty with a firecracker personality. She is also petite and athletic with a muscular built. It was a nightmare to go shopping with her! I obviously know that petites are completely overlooked in fashion. The petites section at Nordstrom makes me want to cry. I was actually accosted by a 4 petite women asking me WHERE are they supposed to go to shop for decent clothes. UGH. SO many petite women and so many crappy options. We had such a hard time with client nr 1, I am still looking online that tops that work.

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Source

Client nr 2 (thank you, Momus, goddess of Irony) was 5’11, skinny with a pear shape. We found sweaters and dresses (Calvin Klein) but just failedfailedfailed at jackets and pants. There’s no tall women section. There’s plus size and actually had pretty cute options. But by God if you are short or tall, you are screwed. Many many hours of desperately looking for clothes, just clothes that fit!

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Source: stylecaster.com

I have never really thought, OMG, what an amazing body I have. Sure, there are times I think I look great, really great even. Not every day though. But having done this marathon shopping trips with clients 1&2, it dawned on me how easy my life is. Sure I need to tailor clothes here and there. But by and large I get to go to any store and buy clothes based on whether they look cute on me or not. And I never realized how unusual that is. Did you know how good your body is??? So I beg you, put aside all these preconceived notions of how fat/skinny/bad you look and just go wear whatever the heck makes you happy. Because before you know it, you’ll be 70 and you WILL look back at your current self and think DAMN I looked good, why didn’t I know it?

x

-h

Baby, its cold outside. In April!

I cannot believe we might get snow again tonight. Where were those flakes around Christmas time when I was singing “I am dreaming of white christmas..” around the clock? My poor daffodils are frozen to crisp outside.

Do you all use Pinterest? I didn’t for the longest time but am totally obsessed now as it helps me keep all the images and ideas organized. I recommend to all my clients to spend some time looking over the images and pinning the ones they like, so we can get a better sense what appeals to them. You can see what pieces you already have and what you need to buy and when getting ready, its great for a quick refresher for what to wear.

Here’s my Pinterest picks for this weekend. All pictures are from here.