Once Halloween is here, the next two months can feel like a blur. Are you ready for the holidays? For many of us, the holidays are a stressful time of year, and become more about getting it all done, than truly enjoying what the season is about. However, with a little advanced planning and the proper attitude, the holidays can truly be a fun and magical time for you and your family. Here are a few tips to make it happen:

1. Adjust Your Expectations: Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We put ourselves under immense pressure to set the perfect Thanksgiving table, or give the ultimate gift. This does nothing but wear us out before we begin! Consider your priorities this holiday season, and decide what things are really important to you. This can include cherished family rituals, or attending a holiday event. Let the less important details go and focus on your priorities first.

2. Create a Master To-Do List: Start off the holiday season by creating a master to-do list, which includes everything that needs to be done. This list can include anything from gifts to shop for, parties to attend, and any other special holiday activities. Set yourself a deadline or due date for each item to help keep yourself on track.

3. Create a Holiday Command Center: Somewhere in your home, create a holiday command center. In this space, you will include all your wrapping paper, greeting cards, lists, a phone, computer and an address book for instance. Keeping everything holiday related in one central area helps you to stay organized, and also saves time. How often do you start wrapping a gift only to realize your can't find the scissors or tape?

4. Think Ahead: The more prep work you can do ahead of time the smoother your holiday season will be. Wrap your gifts as you purchase them rather than on Christmas Eve! In planning ahead, don’t forget your kitchen. Clear out the clutter in your pantry and refrigerator, and slowly start assembling special holiday ingredients that you know you will be using. If you have an extra hour on Sunday, make a batch of refrigerator cookies. Then when unexpected guests come by all you have to do is pop them in the oven.

5. Out With the Old, In With the New: As you unpack your holiday decorations, discard anything that is worn, or in ill repair. As you set up your wrapping station, throw away old paper scraps and tangled ribbon. This will not only clear your space, it will show you what you need to purchase this holiday season. It’s a good idea to keep a running list of items that you will need as you do this, so you will be ready to shop when the time comes.

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