By Denise Morrison Yearian


If December seems like a month-long marathon of activities that leave you feeling frazzled and fatigued, restore the season’s peace, hope and joy with these 12 holiday survival suggestions.


  1. Pencil in and prioritize. With calendar in hand, write in regularly scheduled activities—haircuts, housework, sports practices, etc. Then pencil in specific days for holiday to-dos. If you see a steady stream of busy days, replace low-priority items with rest and relaxation. Make popcorn and watch White Christmas with the kids, take the family for a post-dinner drive to see holiday lights or have a date night with your significant other.


  1. Sweet options to social events. If you don’t want to attend a social event but fear you may offend the host, drop off a box of chocolates to say, “I appreciate the invite but . . .” When you purchase the candy, pick up an extra box for days you need a little personal appreciation.


  1. Consolidate holiday obligations. Host a cookie exchange so you can visit with friends and avoid baking multiple batches of goodies. As you plan the event, reward yourself for this time-saving endeavor by indulging in a cup of hot cocoa with a peppermint candy cane stir and a dollop of whipped cream.


  1. Wrap it up. Designate a specific holiday wrapping station in your home and keep the area stocked with supplies so you can wrap gifts without having to retrieve paper goods. Choose a specific paper print for each child so you don’t have to attach tags.


  1. Stock up and save time. Purchase baking supplies in advance so the ingredients are on hand when you’re ready to bake. Rather than set aside a whole day for baking, break it into stages. One night after your child goes to bed make a double batch of sugar cookie dough and put it in the refrigerator or freezer. Then, when you and your child have time, break off a chunk of dough, roll it out and then cut and decorate the cookies. This eliminates a big kitchen mess and allows you to bake small batches on short notice.


  1. No-fuss food. Make a list of quick-fix meals, post it in a visible location and keep ingredients on hand. Double or triple soups and casseroles then freeze portions so you have something to draw from when you don’t have time to cook. Or flip-flop menus and make breakfast for dinner; pancakes, waffles and scrambled egg wraps can be prepared in a snap.


  1. Ease up expectations. Rather than slaving over the stove on Christmas Eve, simplify the meal and create great memories. If you have a fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick. Or pick up a couple of individual pizza shells and let everyone make their own pie. Dinner will be easy to make and clean up, and the kids will think it’s special.


  1. Lighten the load. When you travel, mail gifts in advance. With the space you save create a personal survival tote. Include hand lotion, a holiday joke book, deck of cards, small notebook and sweet treats.


  1. Create continuity. Avoid pint-sized meltdowns by making sure your children maintain routines and eat right. If they will be out past bedtime, set aside a quiet time during the day. Seize this opportunity to paint your nails or curl up with a good book and a cup of hot tea.


  1. Manage your weight. To prevent sabotaging your diet, scout out holiday buffet lines before going through with your plate so you know what is being served. Sample seasonal offerings in small quantities.


  1. Maintain exercise. If you’re tight on exercise time, park further from public buildings, walk briskly around the mall once before you begin to shop or get up 30 minutes early to take a run. This will help you control weight and manage stress.


  1. Rest and relaxation. Get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night. Once a week pamper yourself. Light candles, put on relaxing music and revel in an in-home spa treatment before going to bed.


Denise Morrison Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children and four grandchildren.


To survive the holidays, carve out time for yourself to indulge in these in-home spa treatments.


Java brew body scrub

Mix 2 cups of coarsely ground coffee, ½ cup of raw sugar and 3 tablespoons of essential oil. Moisten skin in a hot shower to open the pores. Rub coffee exfoliant onto your body using a wide, circular motion. Rinse off, dab skin dry and then apply body lotion.


Oh-my-aching-feet oil

Mix together 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of aloe vera, 1 teaspoon of wheat germ oil, 20 drops of peppermint essential oil and 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Gently massage on feet or add to warm water and soak for 10 minutes. Pat feet dry then lightly dust with corn starch.


Thick and sweet cocoa facial

Mix together 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, 2 teaspoons of cottage cheese, ¼ cup of honey and 3 teaspoons of oatmeal. Smooth it onto your face, relax for 10 minutes then rinse it off.


Sleep tight, milky white body soak

Mix 1 tablespoon almond oil, 4 drops lavender essential oil, 3 drops marjoram essential oil, 2 drops benzoin essential oil and 1 cup powered milk. Add to warm bath water and soak for 20 minutes to calm down and prepare for rest.






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