Survival Guide to the Holiday Hustle & Bustle


This week seems to be the busiest for holiday preparations as people cross things off their lists before they settle into vacation mode next week. No matter how simple your holiday plans, it can still feel rushed, and there are lots of chances for things to go wrong.

* When the package tracking says “Delivered,” but the delivery truck never showed up.

* When you shuffle little kids in and out of car seats on the coldest day of the year.

* When the quick trip to the store took forever because you needed five minutes just to make it out of the crowded parking lot.

* When it’s your third time to exchange the mini lights at the store, and you really hope this strand will work this time.

Take the long-term perspective. A year from now you will have gotten over mishaps, so don’t let them spoil your cheer right now. Don’t let the “stuff” be overly important. It’s just stuff.

Keeping a cheerful holiday mood is more about a choice of attitude, not ideal circumstances. Your family won’t suddenly be perfect just because it’s time to put the ornaments on the tree. You can still have fun even it’s late and the rest of the house is messy.

So plan enough time for things to take longer than you think, don’t get wrapped up in the idea that a certain tradition or something you buy can make or break your holiday, and don’t expect your loved ones to act any differently from how they normally are just because it’s Christmas.

(Oh, and bring snacks with you when you go places. Snacks can save the day and turn a long errand into a fun outing. Don’t underestimate the influence of a juice box and cookies.)

This week we’re busy at home, because even though we have a short gift list, both kids are receiving handmade gifts this year, and we’re finishing them up after-hours. Are you getting things done this week?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I second the snack suggestion. I had to do some additional Christmas shopping last night. If it hadn’t been for the chicken salad and orange cream soda, I would have surely fallen prey to the madness of packed stores and over crowded parking lots. I was done before I knew it and arrived home in a much nicer mood.

  2. I totally agree about not letting things stress you out, and the snack suggestion! Since I’m “eating for two” I have a stash of fruit snacks and granola bars in my purse at all times, for that moment when I realize that I’m about to flip out because I had to stand in line for 15 minutes and I’d only allowed 10 minutes when I was planning my errands! :)

    Plus, the season has been way better since I quit stressing about everything. I eliminated half the people from my normal cookie baking list, and I’ve only made 750 cookies this year, with just one batch left! (I know that sounds like a lot still, but trust me, it’s not). So baking has been fun again this year since I’m making so much less than normal.

  3. I’m with them. ^ Snacks = my lifeline.

    Marla Taviano´s last post…oh, baby!

  4. Snacks, activities to keep you all occupied (magnadoodle+knitting=lifesaver) and a kind spirit seem to cover all the bases. “Aim low” is my mantra!

    Adele´s last post…It’s Not About Giving

  5. Your list is spot on … and the snacks? So, so true.

    Anna´s last post…To Simplify the Holidays

  6. Have you already talked about what you are making this year for the kids? I must have missed it. Happy creating. You are so talented.

    • We’re building a dollhouse for Lane, and I’m sewing a quilt for Tom. I plan to show them next week, so hopefully they’ll be finished!

  7. Yep, getting things done – probably because I have not set myself up for too much to DO! ;) This did take an active choice on my part, but it has been so freeing and I’m sure my family is blessed by my non frantic attitude as well.

    I’ve just begun to visit your blog this month, and it’s been a pleasure reading what’s on your mind. I just linked to one of your more recent posts that encouraged me on my blog yesterday. Stop on by!


    heidi @ wonder woman wannabe´s last post…It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

  8. “Your family won’t suddenly be perfect just because it’s time to put the ornaments on the tree” – that is so true. For the past 5 years I’ve taken a picture of the kids for our Christmas cards and every year I end up frustrated and exhausted. My husband tried to get me to look at this from a different perspective this year by reminding me that the kids are going to goof off and to just let it go. Of course I didn’t but thought about it afterwards. Next year I think I will snap away while they are being silly and send those pictures! It may just the cure!

    Rochelle´s last post…If I don’t get ………it’ll be the worse Christmas EVER!

  9. I’m being induced tomorrow to have a baby–so everything was done even earlier. The house isn’t as clean as I’d like, but I’m just letting it go and trying to enjoy the last few days of “just two kids” before we add a 3rd one to the mix. We planned for a low key Christmas once we realized baby would be coming around that time.

    Tina´s last post…First Snow!

  10. I just keep repeating to myself, “just 9 more day, then it will be over” counting the days seems to put it into prospective. Check out my post for today. It says it all.

  11. Yes – SO BUSY this week, but the days leading up to Christmas next week look blissfully calm and stress-free. Right now I’m in a frenzy baking and making teacher gifts, preparing for a Sunday School class party tomorrow night, and last-minute(!) shopping. My mantra this week is “a few more days.” Next week – I’ll be golden.

    Can’t WAIT to see the dollhouse and quilt!

  12. Most of my “getting done” is done (yay!). I have one gift left to pick up tomorrow, but everything else is wrapped/baked/planned. There’s some grocery shopping, cooking and such left to do, but those are weekly chores for me anyway, so I’m used to it.
    Merry Christmas!

    Minnesotamom´s last post…10 about Christmas

  13. I love your snack suggestion. Our holiday is always ultra-simplified, much of our buying done online, so we are sticking home and loving it!


    steadymom´s last post…Children Using Real Tools

  14. Great ideas, keeping yourself fueled and well hydrated. We have minimized attending and giving parties, that sure helps. We spend time with a few people such as family and close friends.

    Zengirl´s last post…Gifts from heart during Holidays

  15. We have had a power failure all day for two days each week the last two weeks (mid-summer so not serious!!!)… And has it been brilliant for getting things done that should be done playing, napping, chilling, gift wrapping, letter writing(of all things!!!) … No internet, computor, no phone, no baking, no cooking… and it is not worth going out because there are no stop lights and the traffic is beyond comprehension and most stores can’t function without electricity either – I got things done that I never thought I had time for!!! I think we should instill electric free days and we would all get our lives back into perspective very fast!!!

    se7en´s last post…Rock Buns in Se7en Steps…

  16. I completely agree with you. You can choose to enjoy the holiday bustle or complain the whole time–all a matter of attitude! Right now, I am having Scarlett O’Hara days– “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

    mrs. e´s last post…Crick in the neck

  17. It’s sad that I just figured out recently (when you mentioned Texas style snow in a recent post) that you are blogging from Texas. For some reason I thought you were in NYC or something. And here you are in Texas! I don’t know why but that changes everything. It’s a good thing – we’re in Texas too – but it just changes my perspective of all your posts. Does that make sense?! It’s encouraging…we’re living in a small, small place and learning how to manage money and adjusting to the births of our two boys and wanting to eat healthy and you write about a lot of that and you’re here, in the same area! Awesome! :-)

    Jen Hill´s last post…Video from Matt

  18. @Jen…would this post ring less true if she were in NYC? I don’t think so.

  19. I am calm….but I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in denial! hehehe
    Thanks for this lovely post ;)

    Meeks´s last post…My 5 links for the week

  20. Juice box and cookies work well for 40 years old too

    Bobbie´s last post…I need some advice…. alteratively titled… stop me before I buy something else.

  21. This is it… I have promised myself to be “done” this weekend, so I can enjoy just being at home with my children. I hope I can pull it off.

    tina´s last post…Wishing….Waiting

  22. Um, you nailed it on the head with this one: “When the package tracking says “Delivered,” but the delivery truck never showed up.”

    I’m forever amazed at how things like that don’t seem to bother my husband–which is great for me because when I’m freaking out, he’s able to remind me of the very same thing you said: Take the long-term perspective. I’m hoping that someday his instincts will rub off on me so that they’re more second-nature!

    Best of luck with the homemade Christmas presents. I’d be curious to know what you ended up making!

    carmen´s last post…Chicken burgers: Recipe for the weekend

  23. My kids are also receiving handmade gifts and I have to admit that I was a bit over ambitious so I am working like mad after hours! But, it is nothing to stress about because I love it!

    Merry Christmas!

    Andrea @ The Train To Crazy´s last post…Big Sister Designs Giveaway!!

  24. I was just thinking about all of this. Thanks for the reminder to keep things simple! Merry Christmas!

    jeana´s last post…My Mind is Going Non Stop

  25. LOVE the long-term perspective! I linked to it from my blog!
    Thanks – for the life-changing idea!

    JOY´s last post…Shortest Day of the Year