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Holiday Hacks
Dec 20, 2016

Holidays Hacks: Tips, Tricks & Advice to Survive the Holidays

On a scale of Buddy the Elf to Clark Griswold, how much do you stress over the holidays? You know it's the holiday season when your blood pressure is a solid few points above normal, the office is filled with far too many (albeit delicious) treats, and you're frantically searching for a White Elephant gift for the fourth party of the season. Phew—the holidays are indeed a whirlwind, but they don't have to be anything worth choking on grandma's cookies over.

The TIS crew has learned a thing or two over the years about how to manage holiday stress. We're sure you have too, but sometimes it's fun to hear other peoples' anecdotes and ignore your own. ; ) For those of you looking for a couple hacks to this season, grab your almond milk and cookies and get to reading.

Lissa's Pro Tip: Reuse holiday gift bags and wrapping—yay sustainability!

Gift Wrapping

There's a ton of waste that comes with the holidays, so I like to do my part by keeping all of the holiday gift bags I get from years past to reuse. I'll even reuse tissue paper if it's in decent condition. I've also used paper bags. You can get some cool wintery stamps or draw on them with markers. It also doubles as a surface to write the recipient's name instead of having to purchase name tags.

Mark's Pro Tip: Assemble and keep a "Get Your Car Unstuck" kit in your trunk at all times.

Winter Car Survival Kit

There's absolutely nothing worse than getting your car stuck in the snow—especially if you're on the way to or from a Christmas party. ln case of emergencies, always keep a "Get Your Car Unstuck” kit in your trunk.

It should include:

  1. Kitty litter: $2.49. Yes, kitty litter (salt just goes right through ice). Kitty litter grabs and holds onto any icy surface and helps even the baldest tires out of any winter jam.
  2. Trunk-size snow shovel: $9.89. Why are my tires just spinning? Because that big pile of compacted snow is holding your car like a board on a teeter totter. This extendable shovel lets you get that white devil out from under your car, without the need for a tow truck.
  3. Tow strap: $10.20. Most cars have tow hooks underneath, so look for those. If not, you can wrap the strap around the car frame in a pinch. Tip: Let the 4x4 vehicle do most of the work—don’t jam on your gas and run into the friend pulling you out. Offer a tip and a good fist bump before leaving.
  4. Winter layers: Keep a set of warm hats, gloves, boots, and blanket in your trunk at all times during the winter season. Seriously—they can save your life if you are driving out to a party in the middle of nowhere!

Aaron's Pro Tip: Don't stop in Gaylord during a blizzard.

Driving in a Blizzard

For my fellow Yoopers: If you're driving back home for the holidays, do not stop in Gaylord during a blizzard (it’s a blizzard in Gaylord 8 months out of the year). I repeat, NEVER stop and put Rain-X on your windshield to help with visibility. You will never see out of that windshield again. Safe travels!

Angela's Pro Tip: Nobody is above the regift.

We've all experienced the awkwardness of receiving gifts that we didn't like or knew we would never use. Telling the person you don't like it and putting in the effort to return the gift both equally suck, which is why I am a firm proponent of regifting. Over the years, I've collected enough gifts to make a designated "Regift Box" that I go to before heading out to stores to purchase a gift for someone. Just make sure to keep a list of who gave you which gift to avoid regifting a gift to the original sender.... #awkward.

Natalie's Pro Tip: Always have wine.

Always Have Wine

Or whiskey, beer, scotch, vodka—you get the idea. For every time a family member asks:

"When are you finally going to graduate?"

"So, what can you actually do with an art degree?"

"Are you and what's-his-face engaged yet?"

"Oh dear, you're all tatted up! What are you doing to your beautiful body?!"

Take a sip, shot, or chug your beverage of choice. It also helps to stay near the food table.

Troy's Pro Tip: Establish a designated "Christmas Central" room.

Kids Wrapping

It's far too easy to lose track of Christmas gifts after shopping and when it's time to wrap—especially once you have kids. That's why we turn our former home office/playroom/storage room into “Christmas Central” during the holidays. As soon as we get home from shopping, we put all our presents in labeled piles for each person we're buying for, along with wrapping materials, bows, tags and boxes/bags of all sizes. This makes everything accessible and accounted for leading up to the holidays. It's so much easier than scrambling around the house looking for the supplies and presents you need in the moment!

Rob & KT's Pro Tip: Lay down the law with your family ahead of time.

It's both difficult and particularly stressful to travel from house to house on Christmas day. That's why ever since we got married, and especially once Brannon was born, we've told both of our families that it's time we start our own tradition: spending Christmas at home, in PJs, watching movies and sports, eating pizza or other fun junk foods, and devouring Christmas cookies. If you want to see us on Christmas day, you come to us—we have a revolving door open to whoever wants to visit. : )

Josh's Pro Tip: For every 2 days of holiday events, take an entire day to do absolutely nothing.

Sleepy Dog

For every 2 days of holiday events, I schedule an entire day for myself to do nothing. I have zero agenda or plans and do whatever my heart desires. It’s the perfect way to recharge after holiday festivities.

This year, I'll be attending four holiday parties, so I’ve got two days scheduled that I’ll fill with my own *personal vacation.* And those two days are what I'm looking forward to most!

We hope these tips and hacks help get you through the stressful times this holiday season! If you have any handy-dandy hacks, tips and tricks to successfully get through the holidays—don't hold back! Share your secrets with us. Every little bit helps. ; )

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