Dear Curious SooN Adults of the Internet,
The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. These SOMETHING out of NOTHING tips may help you tackle your own holiday choas. I have discovered that it is better to keep things simple throughout the holidays.
Feel free to share your favorite holiday hacks in the comments section. I cannot wait to learn what I missed.
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#1: Holiday Cards
If you publish an annual holiday card, then you know it is a significant effort. From finding the perfect picture(s), to crafting a thoughtful message, to everything that goes into stuffing, stamping, addressing and *actually* sending the cards…
Ugh. The entire operation leaves me so exhausted that I feel really unmotivated to do anything else holiday related [such as decorating the tree/house or holiday baking].
That doesn’t even begin to capture the amount of guilt I feel at the end of the season when I throw away all the cards I received that year. I mean, I know how much work I put into creating my own holiday card — so it feels like a real slap in the face to send all that hard work my friends and family invested into their own Holiday masterpiece to the landfill.
That’s why I’m excited to share this first holiday tip: Holiday Card Garland!!!
Q: What exactly is Holiday Card Garland?
A: Holiday Card Garland is a timeless way to celebrate the cards you’ve received AND ALSO decorate your house.
Q: How does it work?
A: It’s easy! To start, simply save your holiday cards this year. Next, group them together in even quantities by like style [portrait or landscape]. Then use a small-hole punch to string them together and decorate your house with this poignant memory-filled garland. The best part is that year-over-year your garland will grow! What started for me as one hallway is now filling my main floor with endless memories [and future holiday card concepts].
Q: Interesting. I’m having a hard time picturing it, can you show me an example?
A: Absolutely! Here is an example of our entryway hallway + a template to follow:
- Save your garland in plastic Ziploc bags labeled with the location in your home for simplified future set-up.
- Create holiday card photo envy by using a professional photographer for your photos. Not only will they make the process seamless, the high-quality photos can double as gifts for parents/grandparents. We have been using Saludo Image as our family photographer for 6+ years. I couldn’t be happier with their work!
- Transfer your environmental impact guilt to the wrapping paper by using Paper Culture to print your holiday cards. This company has countless bar raising designs, uses recycled paper, is affordable, and plants a tree in your honor with EVERY ORDER.
- Save yourself time [and the postal workers a headache from your bad handwriting] by paying your card company the upcharge of addressing your cards [to/from], stamping and sending them for you.
#2: Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka
One favor — if you try it after reading this post, tell me what you thought in the comments section.
#3: Pre-Wrapped Holiday Gifts
Have you ever had a friend/family member stop by unexpectedly with a holiday gift? Then you know it can be uncomfortable if you are not prepared to reciprocate. It is for this reason that I started purchasing a variety of universal/non-specific gifts. I keep my eye out for clearance and sale items and aim to spend no more than $25 per unit. That’s cost not value — I definitely bought my limit of Fire TV sticks on Black Friday when they were $19.99 [regularly $35]. Clearance hand soap, scented candles, fancy cheese knives and popular games like “What Do You Meme” are also in my regular rotation.
When I receive a gift that I was not planning to receive, I say something like, “Let me just go grab your gift from the other room”. Then I hustle down to my storeroom to rifle through my inventory of pre-wrapped gifts. I keep track of each item’s contents with a post-it. This helps me hone in on the gift that is appropriately matched for the recipient. If there isn’t one, I grab a gift card from Starbucks/Amazon and pair it with some expensive chocolate [that’s usually a gift bag item].
In sharing this with you, I realize two things:
#1: If you are a friend/family member who has gifted me something in the past, you may now realize that I actually reciprocated with something from my pre-wrapped inventory…
If that is true, well…you are on to my tricks now! I hope you liked whatever it was and if it happens again in the future feel free to reference this email cause that will be an awkward but hilarious exchange.
#2: I literally just gave you a roadmap to all the loot in my home — if you break-in to steal it, please don’t let the dog out…
#4: Holiday Entertaining Tips
There are a lot of them out there so I’m going to focus on my two favorites:
#1: Bus Tubs: As in, the black bins they have in restaurants. I have two of them and am more than thrilled to fill them up when my dishwasher is full/running so that my sink is empty and my next load is organized. I usually store the filled bus tubs in the laundry room while the washer is running. This makes me feel good that the kitchen is not a disaster while also leaving my guests curious how I was able to cook AND clean before they arrived…
#2: WIFI Sign: I find it helpful to have a premade sign with my WIFI user name and password. I have both a stationary sign at the front door and signs in picture frames in the guest room. Not only is this a time saver — it impresses!
#5: Vacation Rental Survival Kit
I’ve learned through several Vacation Rental stays that it is important to pack a few additional non-traditional vacation items:
#1: Can’t Live Without Electronics: Generally each vacation rental has free WIFI, bring your home streaming device to make vacation entertainment a breeze. Add your smart speaker to the mix for instant music!
#2: Sharp Knives: I’ve never stayed in a vacation rental that doesn’t have dull knives. The home chef in me can’t cope. I usually bring one paring knife and two chef’s knives.
#3: Basic Spices: While I have come across the leftovers of past occupants — this has been more miss than hit. I started packing Kosher Salt, my salt & pepper grinder, garlic powder and onion powder because I was tired of buying it while traveling.
If you love to cook and hate paying for overpriced and mediocre vacation food, it might be helpful to add these items to your packing list.
#4: Fancy Spices: Mexican Spice Blend, Cumin, Paprika, Chili Powder, Turmeric, Italian Spice Blend, Mushroom Powder
I tend to also make a mix of Italian, Mexican and American Bistro meals while on vacation. When I am driving, not flying to my vacation rental, I also pack these things:
#6: My Bulk Pantry Items: Toss a few of these items into a plastic Sterilite tote to eliminate meal friction downstream. Whole Coffee Beans, Risotto, White Rice, Black Beans, Pasta Variety, San Marzano Tomatoes, Fire Roasted Tomatoes, my favorite wine.
#7: My Frequently Used Kitchen Appliances: Instant Pot, Cuisinart, Small Hand Juicer
#6: Gift Ideas
Are you struggling to identify gifts for the special people in your life. Here are a few of my favorites:
Parents/Grandparents: Pictures are always a win with this crowd. We do annual family pictures and I got in the habit of select one from the shoot to print on canvas or to mat in a nice frame. Framebridge will make the process seamless for you! Although, I noticed my overall strategy changed from a one-and-done to an always-on approach after discovering the Nixplay Smart Digital Photo Frame [Alexa compatible]. Feedback from all recipients have been positive — with everyone consistently sharing they feel so much more connected to me and my family because of the continuous stream of new photos on their device.
The Cook: If you are planning to stick with the solid choice of a cookbook, give Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat a try. Samin simplifies the art and science of food for any level and I am a better cook because of this education. [See the Netflix special by the same name for a Cliffnotes version.] If you are looking for a more unique item: these Foodie Dice will challenge your recipient to craft original recipes. I also find it engages my little ones and is a great way to ignite their curiousity in the kitchen.
Boss/Employees/Friends: I’m a big fan of a photo or funny coffee mug. When paired with the previously mentioned Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka, your recipient is sure to have a delightful Christmas morning.
#7: Text Santa
But come November 1st, I switch to a “text Santa” strategy. The concept is pretty simple:
#1: Save a photo of Santa in your contacts under the name “Santa” and pair it with a phone number that you know doesn’t receive texts [like your office landline].
#2: When your kids don’t listen to directions [like clean up your toys] or have a bad attitude, give them one last chance to fall in line before you “text Santa” with this important update on their behavior.
#3: Reinforce good behavior, such as unloading the dishwasher, by also texting Santa with that information.
#4: Explain that Santa won’t reply back because he is so busy getting ready for Christmas. However, he discovered it’s easy to keep track of who is naughty/nice so close to his peak season when parents text him.
Feedback? Input? Questions?
We cannot wait to hear from you!