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HOLIDAY HACKS

How to save time, money and your sanity this season


Time

1

Play Your Cards Right

Play Your Cards Right


Many of us take one look at the mound of Christmas cards waiting to be addressed and immediately think of 20 different things we could be doing. This year, try a simpler approach with Minted. This online company does the heavy lifting for you and prints your recipientsí addresses right onto the envelopes.

2

Fly Under the Radar

Fly Under the Radar


Behold your holiday travel savior: TSA Precheck. Make an appointment at your nearest enrollment center, fill out some forms, pay $85 and never wait in the security line (or take your shoes off) again.

3

Keep Things Handy

Keep Things Handy


Scenario: The Smiths’ big holiday party is… in an hour. You can’t show up empty-handed, but you barely have time to take a shower, let alone run to the mall. Avoid gift-giving anxiety and stock up on one small item that’s suitable for all the events on your social calendar. A handful of Ghirardelli peppermint chocolates tied with a ribbon will do the trick.

4

Hone Your Wrap Skills

See our tip >

Hone Your Wrap Skills


Hey, itís OK if all of your presents are wrapped in the same paper. (Hint: Buy in bulk.) And tied with the same ribbon. (Hint: Kitchen twine works great.) And labeled with the same gift tags. (Hint: These are free.) Itís whatís inside that counts.

5

Donít Go Postal

See our tip >

Donít Go Postal


Itís tough to avoid the post office during the holidays, but hereís a clever tip: Exchange gifts with far-flung friends and relatives later in the year rather than sending gifts now. Itíll save you a bundle on shipping costs and help you dodge this scenario.

6

Master Improv

See our tip >

Master Improv


The best-laid plans often go awry. Pick up a copy of How to Repair Food for those times when the shaker breaks and you accidentally add 19 teaspoons of salt to the gravy instead of one.


Money

1

Make a Game Plan

Make a Game Plan


Classic board games make great family gifts: one present, at least three people. Look for the original packaging of games like Scrabble, Monopoly or Backgammon. Bonus: It gives you an automatic activity during family gatherings--and who doesnít like a little friendly competition?

2

Pack a Punch

Pack a Punch


As much as you love a dirty martini, stocking a full bar for your holiday party can get pricey. Save your funds for the Yankee Swap and instead put together the most terrific punch bowl. Youíll also save yourself from the mess of a barís worth of bottles.

3

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue


Planning to live in the kitchen for the next two weeks? Hereís a useful tip: Before you head to the grocery store, check your cupboards. You may find that you have bags of flour or jars of spices hiding in those nooks and crannies. Doing a little recon will save you money (not to mention your sanity).

4

Shop Smarter

Shop Smarter


The new site Honey is taking couponing to the next level. Download the easy-to-install widget to your bookmarks bar and with one click Honey will search more than a hundred stores for coupon codes (think Ann Taylor Loft, J.Crew, Best Buy) and automatically apply them to your checkout.

5

Stay in the Green

Stay in the Green


Want to streamline your holiday expenses? Download the app Level Money. Normally used for year-round budgeting, Level comes in handy during the holidays because you can set a strict cap on what you spend. Level will then let you know how much money you have each day to keep yourself on track.

6

Use It or Lose It

Use It or Lose It


Did you know sites like Gift Card Granny, Cardpool and GiftCardRescue buy unused gift cards from consumers and resell them, often for less than face value? We recently scored a $50 Barnes & Noble card for a cool $42.50. Itís perfect for your sister-in-law who has yet to read Gone Girl. (We knowÖ gasp.)


SANITY

1

Get Squared Away

Get Squared Away


Baking homemade cookies from scratch just so ďSantaĒ can binge-eat them two days later? Pass. Leave out a few Ghirardelli Squares instead. Besides, Santaís on a bit of a diet this year.

2

Make Yourself at Home

Make Yourself at Home


Nothingís worse than worrying that your house will get wrecked during a holiday get-together. Instead of feeling anxious throughout your party, do a little un-decorating before you decorate. In other words: Crystal gets tucked away when the tinsel goes on display.

3

Mark Your Calendar

Mark Your Calendar


This year, plan to take just three shopping trips all before December 15. We know, easier said than done. But even if your entire list isnít fleshed out, just getting yourself to the mall before the eleventh hour warrants a pat on the back.

4

Breathe Easy

Breathe Easy


Chances are youíve been working your behind off to please others this season. But where has that left you? Remind yourself to relax with the app and website Calm.com. It offers two-minute guided sessions that help you ease your mind and refocus. Your kids and coworkers will thank you.

5

Meet in the Middle

Meet in the Middle


Donít cling to visions of a Norman Rockwell perfect family Christmas. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself will only drive you to chug too much eggnog. Instead, try working on being flexible. Youíll bake the apple pie, sure, but for goodnessí sake, buy a premade cheese plate.

6

Laugh It Off

Laugh It Off


Leave it to David Sedaris to put all of your holiday woes at ease. His collection of essays titled Holidays on Ice will surely help put things into perspective. Thought your family trip to Poughkeepsie was tough? Just wait till you get to ďSeasonís Greetings to Our Friends and Family!Ē


Time

Play Your Cards Right


Many of us take one look at the mound of Christmas cards waiting to be addressed and immediately think of 20 different things we could be doing. This year, try a simpler approach with Minted. This online company does the heavy lifting for you and prints your recipientsí addresses right onto the envelopes.

Fly Under the Radar


Behold your holiday travel savior: TSA Precheck. Make an appointment at your nearest enrollment center, fill out some forms, pay $85 and never wait in the security line (or take your shoes off) again.

Keep Things Handy


Scenario: The Smithsí big holiday party isÖ in an hour. You canít show up empty-handed, but you barely have time to take a shower, let alone run to the mall. Avoid gift-giving anxiety and stock up on one small item thatís suitable for all the events on your social calendar. A handful of Ghirardelli peppermint chocolates tied with a ribbon will do the trick.

Hone Your Wrap Skills


Hey, itís OK if all of your presents are wrapped in the same paper. (Hint: Buy in bulk.) And tied with the same ribbon. (Hint: Kitchen twine works great.) And labeled with the same gift tags. (Hint: These are free.) Itís whatís inside that counts.

Donít Go Postal


Itís tough to avoid the post office during the holidays, but hereís a clever tip: Exchange gifts with far-flung friends and relatives later in the year rather than sending gifts now. Itíll save you a bundle on shipping costs and help you dodge this scenario.

Master Improv


The best-laid plans often go awry. Pick up a copy of How to Repair Food for those times when the shaker breaks and you accidentally add 19 teaspoons of salt to the gravy instead of one.


Money

Make a Game Plan


Classic board games make great family gifts: one present, at least three people. Look for the original packaging of games like Scrabble, Monopoly or Backgammon. Bonus: It gives you an automatic activity during family gatherings--and who doesnít like a little friendly competition?

Pack a Punch


As much as you love a dirty martini, stocking a full bar for your holiday party can get pricey. Save your funds for the Yankee Swap and instead put together the most terrific punch bowl. Youíll also save yourself from the mess of a barís worth of bottles.

Search and Rescue


Planning to live in the kitchen for the next two weeks? Hereís a useful tip: Before you head to the grocery store, check your cupboards. You may find that you have bags of flour or jars of spices hiding in those nooks and crannies. Doing a little recon will save you money (not to mention your sanity).

Shop Smarter


The new site Honey is taking couponing to the next level. Download the easy-to-install widget to your bookmarks bar and with one click Honey will search more than a hundred stores for coupon codes (think Ann Taylor Loft, J.Crew, Best Buy) and automatically apply them to your checkout.

Stay in the Green


Want to streamline your holiday expenses? Download the app Level Money. Normally used for year-round budgeting, Level comes in handy during the holidays because you can set a strict cap on what you spend. Level will then let you know how much money you have each day to keep yourself on track.

Use It or Lose It


Did you know sites like Gift Card Granny, Cardpool and GiftCardRescue buy unused gift cards from consumers and resell them, often for less than face value? We recently scored a $50 Barnes & Noble card for a cool $42.50. Itís perfect for your sister-in-law who has yet to read Gone Girl. (We knowÖ gasp.)


SANITY

Get Squared Away


Baking homemade cookies from scratch just so ďSantaĒ can binge-eat them two days later? Pass. Leave out a few Ghirardelli Squares instead. Besides, Santaís on a bit of a diet this year.

Make Yourself at Home


Nothingís worse than worrying that your house will get wrecked during a holiday get-together. Instead of feeling anxious throughout your party, do a little un-decorating before you decorate. In other words: Crystal gets tucked away when the tinsel goes on display.

Mark Your Calendar


This year, plan to take just three shopping trips all before December 15. We know, easier said than done. But even if your entire list isnít fleshed out, just getting yourself to the mall before the eleventh hour warrants a pat on the back.

Breathe Easy


Chances are youíve been working your behind off to please others this season. But where has that left you? Remind yourself to relax with the app and website Calm.com. It offers two-minute guided sessions that help you ease your mind and refocus. Your kids and coworkers will thank you.

Meet in the Middle


Donít cling to visions of a Norman Rockwell perfect family Christmas. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself will only drive you to chug too much eggnog. Instead, try working on being flexible. Youíll bake the apple pie, sure, but for goodnessí sake, buy a premade cheese plate.

Laugh It Off


Leave it to David Sedaris to put all of your holiday woes at ease. His collection of essays titled Holidays on Ice will surely help put things into perspective. Thought your family trip to Poughkeepsie was tough? Just wait till you get to ďSeasonís Greetings to Our Friends and Family!Ē