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How To Survive The Holidays Without Killing Your Spouse

Now that’s a title that will grab your attention, yes? My alternate title was “5 Tips For Hiding A Body” but I really don’t want to end up on some government watchlist…again. So I took the post in a different direction. But I promise you, if my husband puts one more of my favorite sweaters into the dryer you will be seeing that above-mentioned post.

 

Do you find yourself fighting or arguing with your spouse or significant other more than usual during what is supposed to be the season for happiness, faith, and family? The holiday season seems to really bring out the snippy remarks, the eye rolls, and the long-suffering sighs. The holiday season used to be much easier, back in the days before we had kids and full schedules. Now our lives are a jumble of sporting events, practices, appointments, and programs. It’s much harder to shift the schedule to make room for more things and during the holidays there always seem to be more things. More things lead to stress and stress leads to arguments. 

 

 

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1. Learn to say no. You don’t have to accept every invitation that you receive. I know it’s hard to disappoint people but saying yes to every invitation to parties, shows, or holiday events just leads to frustration and stress. Every year Matt and I are invited to multiple holiday shows, parties, and charity events. We have to pick and choose which ones we want to attend and we almost always make that determination based on the things our whole family will enjoy. We try to attend different types of things- the singing Christmas tree, the tree lighting festival, a childrens’ Christmas play, as well as some of the parties. 

 

2. Set a budget. This is the hardest part for us. Matt grew up in a family where Christmas morning opening gifts was just not a big deal. Their Christmas was more church focused and the excitement of Christmas morning was secondary. I grew up being surrounded by the Christmas spirit. My mom went all out for the holidays- decor, parties, traditions, gifts….she loves Christmas. We had large Christmas morning celebrations that created some of the best memories of my childhood. I desperately want to re-create those memories for my own kids. Working in the finance industry means Matt is extremely budget minded- that’s code for “cheap”. He considers anything more than one gift per child to be excessive because of his childhood. We have had many a fight about this over the years because I am not willing to compromise or concede on this issue. The best way around this fight for us is to set a firm budget for the holidays, then it’s up to me to find the best deals on the gifts.

 

3. Make your holiday shopping list together. This ties in with the whole budget thing. We try not to buy in excess for the holidays. We agreed long ago on 4 gifts per child to open on Christmas morning. They also receive a gift from my parents and my sisters family to open on Christmas day. That’s a total of 6 gifts each on Christmas day- which is more than enough, especially now that they are older and are asking for more expensive gifts. We see my in-laws for New Years most years and they receive more gifts from them. Matt and I sit down together in the fall and make a holiday gift list that includes every member of our family that we need to buy for that year. Matt appreciates having input and not being caught off guard when we sit down to wrap gifts together. 

 

4. Decide early about holiday plans. When we were first married we used to alternate the holidays with our families. One year we went to my parents for Thanksgiving and his parents for Christmas. The next year we would switch. After we started our own family we stopped traveling at the holidays. I wanted my kids to be in their own beds in their own house for Christmas. It’s the magic of Christmas morning and I wanted that for my own kids. The first few years were difficult with parents disappointed and upset that we were no longer traveling but it was important to me so Matt supported our new plan. Now we are 13 years into it and we have a great holiday routine. We host Thanksgiving at our home for both sides of the family. Everyone comes- parents, siblings, nephews…both sides of the family come together to celebrate at our home. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. For Christmas, my parents come down on Christmas Eve and spend the night with us to be here to celebrate Christmas morning with us. My in-laws travel to see Matt’s brothers for Christmas and we see them on New Year’s Day or the weekend after Christmas some years. 

 

5. Compromise graciously. There are always things that come up during the holiday season that have the potential to cause an argument with your spouse. An unexpected last minute party invitation from his boss or 2 events planned for the same night. Our solution? Decide who it is more important to and work from there. For example, a last minute invitation from his boss? That ranks up there at a 10 in importance for Matt- so I suck it up, paste on a smile, and make small talk with people I don’t know for a few hours. When we have 2 events on the same night- we decide based on which one means more to us. If the invitation for a charity event is a 10 in importance for me and the other invitation for an ugly sweater party is just a 7 for Matt then we go to the charity event. Now if we both think the parties are of equal importance we settle it the old fashioned way- rock, paper, scissors. Or we agree to attend separately (which rarely ever happens). 

 

6. Focus on family. We make a true effort to focus on our family during the holiday season. We set aside weekends specifically for our family- no outside obligations allowed. We stay in our jammies, make Christmas cookies, drink hot chocolate, and watch Christmas movies. When we decorate our Christmas tree we make it a fun family day with cookies and Christmas songs. Every night we read a Christmas themed story before bedtime. Those are the memories I want my kids to have of our family holiday when they are older and starting their own families.

 

There you have it. Those 6 tips are the reason Matt is still alive and I’m not in jail. The holidays have the potential to be the most stressful time of the year if you let it get out of hand. 

 
Shared with Craft-o-Maniac Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Monday Funday, Made By You Monday, Make the Scene Monday, Give Me The Goods, Project Inspired, Mix It Up Monday, Show Me What Ya Got, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, From Dream to Reality, One Project At A Time, Tutorials and Tips, Tuesday Treasures, Whatever Goes Wednesday, The Inspiration Exchange, Thursdays Are Your Days, The Party Bunch, Link Party Palooza, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, That DIY Party, Inspire Me Please, Work It Wednesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Take a Look Tuesday, Live Laugh Linky, The Weekly Creative, Wow Us Wednesday

 

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5 Tips For A Budget Friendly Christmas

Christmas is a big deal in my house. It always has been- starting when I was a kid. My parents went all out for Christmas despite not having a whole lot of discretionary cash. They never went into debt to do Christmas because my mom was the master of stretching a penny into a dollar. I love Christmas- the whole season, not just the day. I love singing Christmas carols, seeing all the houses in our neighborhood decorated with bright lights, drinking hot cocoa in front of a twinkling Christmas tree while we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation….I just love it all. 

 

But with 5 kids, Christmas gets expensive. Not to mention- 3 siblings, 3 spouses, 3  nephews, 2 sets of parents….that’s not even counting teachers, therapists, coaches. Christmas has the potential to be a budget buster in my house. We adopted a few guidelines to help us be able to have a fantastic Christmas and stay within our budget. I refuse to ever put Christmas on a credit card. I will not go into debt to provide Christmas presents. This means I need to plan and budget all year long, not just starting on December 1st.

 

 

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1. Make your list and check it twice. I start my Christmas list on January 1st. Every time my kids finds something they really want, I add it to the list. As they lose interest in things through out the year, I cross those items off. When it gets down to around mid-October, I narrow the list down even further. I don’t finalize my lists until the hot toy catalogs come out and the kids browse through them with shiny eyes and circle things they might want. By the second week of November my lists are usually done.

 

2. Shop the pre-Black Friday sales. A lot of stores and amazon have some great sales in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. I don’t wait for Black Friday sales, mainly because I don’t do Black Friday. I shop online but I do not venture out into the stores to fight the hoarde of angry masses. Make sure you know which stores will price match and take advantage of that. If your kids are asking for really hot toys, take advantage of the free layaway at Toys R Us or Wal*Mart. 

 

3. Cut your gift list. In our family some years we all buy for the kids but not the adults. At Thanksgiving, the adults will all draw names to see who they will buy for that year. It’s just too expensive to buy for 8 kids plus all the adults. Not to mention it takes off a lot of stress. I just have to find that one perfect gift for one person instead of a perfect gift for each person. This year we are doing it a little differently. We’re buying gifts based on gender. I’m buying for my sister and my 2 sisters-in-law. Matt is buying for his 2 brothers and his brother-in-law. We always buy for our parents so that hasn’t changed. Work out a system with your extended family that works for all of you. 

 

4. Set your budget early and save all year. I have a separate savings account and every month I add a set amount to it. I always plan to have $1,000 by December to pay for Christmas. I rarely use it all and whatever is leftover gets transferred into our vacation account. I have the money transferred into the savings account automatically and since I never see it, I don’t miss it. Doing it this way makes sure the funds are there for Christmas and I don’t have to scramble to come up with the money at the last minute.

 

5. Be realistic about how many gifts your kids need. I have 5 kids. I cannot do 10 gifts per kid. I just can’t do it, and they don’t need that much. It’s just overkill. I want my kids to know the meaning of Christmas and I want them to know it is better to give than to receive. My kids get 4 presents each and then they always get a gift from my parents, my sister, my in-laws, and a joint gift from Matt’s brothers. So they end up with around 8 gifts each and truthfully even that is too much. I try to put a lot of thought into which gifts we get for the kids and make sure to pick things they will truly love.

 

As my kids get older their gift lists get more expensive. I think when the last one learns about Santa we will re-evaluate  how we do gifts and change up the system. This year Ty asked for a Samsung Tablet, an iPhone 5, an xBox One, a pair of Beats headphones, and a dirt bike. Clearly he thinks he was adopted into the Rockefeller family. Ha! Someone needs a dose of reality. 

 

How do you keep your Christmas gift list under budget?

 
Shared with Craft-o-Maniac Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Monday Funday, Made By You Monday, Make the Scene Monday, Give Me The Goods, Project Inspired, Mix It Up Monday, Show Me What Ya Got, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, From Dream to Reality, One Project At A Time, Tutorials and Tips, Tuesday Treasures, Whatever Goes Wednesday, The Inspiration Exchange, Thursdays Are Your Days, The Party Bunch, Link Party Palooza, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, That DIY Party, Inspire Me Please, Work It Wednesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Take a Look Tuesday, Live Laugh Linky, The Weekly Creative, Wow Us Wednesday

 
 

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Happy Thanksgiving

Just a few funnies to brighten your Thanksgiving Day. 

 

 Thanksgiving this year will be all about that very special feeling of gratitude that we can now  finally sit and smirk

 

please do not touch the thanksgiving turkey inappropriately this year

 

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Is that your pop-up timer or are you just glad to see me?

 

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Happy turkey day

 

 

Thanksgiving

 

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Thanksgiving Pictures

 

Happy Thanksgiving from my house to yours. Hope you have a wonderful day with your families. We have a house full of people and are anticipating a lot of half drunk overnight guests crashing at our house so I’ll be back this weekend to share pictures….some of which will quite probably involve inappropriate touching of the turkey. We are a fun bunch. Ha!

 

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Save 30% Off At Blurb + One Of A Kind Gifts


 

 

Have I mentioned how much I love Blurb? Haha! I know, I know. You’re probably tired of hearing me spout off about how fantastic blurb is but they just keep sending me great coupon codes and fabulous gift ideas to share with you! Today I have another coupon code to share and some information about creating a one of a kind gift with Blurb. The links in this post are affiliate links which means if you click and purchase something I make a few pennies to help pay for Christmas. 

 

COUPON CODE: Save 30% on Blurb’s Print Books with code: SAVE30

 

Create Something One Of A Kind with Blurb

 

People love getting really creative, one-of-a-kind books for Christmas. Books that elicit a “where did you find this?” response. As the leading indie- and self-publishing platform, Blurb has an entire online bookstore full of unique books by an incredible array of undiscovered, self-published authors, artists, and photographers. And while these books probably aren’t in your recipient’s bookshelf, many of them should be. So, if you’re thinking of giving unique gifts this year, consider these titles. Each costs around $40 USD or less:

 

 Cookie Cravings by Maria Lichty and Heidi Larsen
We all have cookie cravings. Popular food blogger Maria Lichter decided to put them into something deliciously original: A baking book featuring 30 recipes you won’t find anywhere else.

 

Dog by My Side by Adam Schnitzer
This charming collection of original, vintage photos shows us that as long as there have been cameras, we’ve wanted to photograph our canine best friends. As a special bonus, there’s a glossary of the early photographic methods used in the original images. 

 

Around the World with a Toy Camera by Giorgio Giussani
Perfect for the photography or graffiti-art fan on your list. This book is an explosion of gritty color that explores the wonders of street art and analog photography. 

 

Food Stories by Elena Scott
A short, wonderfully illustrated collection of recipes (and food stories) that will inspire you to pick up the knife and spatula—or just pen and paper. 

 

Things I Love by Carol Nehls and Jessica Rose
Illustrated and written many years apart by a mother and daughter, this sweet rhyming story told by a fox is pure joy for all ages.

 

Patent Pending by Jordan Natyshen
Chicken goggles, air-conditioned rocking chairs, monkey jockeys for greyhounds… humankind has invented and sought to patent some amazing and crazy things. Illustrator Jordan Natyshen illustrates some of the strangest in this history of odd inventions. 

 

Tiny Horses are Everywhere by Thea Lux
The perfect stocking-stuffer for fans of off-beat humor, this undeniably nutty book is based on a Tumblr blog and combines simple photo collages of small horses in human environments with incredibly funny captions.

 

Rouleaux by Anastassia Elias
What can you do with an empty roll of toilet paper? If you’re French artist Anastassia Elias, you create tiny dioramas inside of the discarded tubes. Inspired by art and movies, these pieces are beautifully crafted, fun, and unbelievably detailed. 

 

Low Fidelity by Bobby Grossman
If you, or someone you love, listened to New York punk and new wave in the 70s, chances are your favorite artist can be found in this book. Bobby Grossman photographed Iggy Pop, David Byrne, The Ramones, Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol and many more. This book is a time capsule of—and a love letter to—a legendary time, place, and sound.

 

Take a second and head over to Blurb to see if you can end your search for that perfect gift this season! 

 

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Family Fun With Just Dance Kids 2014


 
 

One thing we cherish around here is family time and doing fun activities with our kids. As our kids get older it gets harder to find things they actually want to do with us. Apparently the older the kids get, the less cool the parents become. I’ll have you know, I’m still super cool. It’s not like I’m wearing knee socks with my bermuda shorts and sandals. I mean, there was that one time but I was only running to the grocery store for milk so who was going to see me anyway? Moving on.

 

We try to take advantage of any opportunity to spend time with our kids having fun as a family. So when I was offered the opportunity to try out the new Just Dance Kids 2014 game for the XBox Kinect I was really excited. I mean, it’s well established that I like to dance and I can do the sprinkler like nobody’s business. Matt has some equally fun dance moves that alternately make our kids burst into laughter and double check to make sure the window blinds are closed. Technically this game is for the kids but when have we ever let a small detail like that stop us? We’re kids at heart, that’s what counts. 

 

 

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Mase is my biggest dance fan. He’s been break dancing since he was 3 and he never needs much encouragement to shake his booty. The kids were really excited to give this game a try and it was a much needed break from some of the other games they’ve been playing lately that mom just can’t seem to get the hang of yet. Zoey loves to dance but I wasn’t sure she would be able to really enjoy this game. I was so wrong. The game includes plenty songs for the younger crowd including Yo Gabba Gabba and The Wiggles- both favorites in this house. Mase and Maia were over the moon to see songs for them from One Direction, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and the Victorious Cast. There are over 30 fun songs and it really does have something for everyone. Matt and I danced along to Shout and Footloose to warm up and then we really busted a move to Hit Me With Your Best Shot, I Like To Move It, The Hustle, and Walking On Sunshine. The kids were properly embarrassed and torn between laughter and horror. Just wait until their friends come over, then the horror will really begin as mom begins cutting a rug to Magic Carpet Ride. You’re picturing that right now, aren’t you?

 

 

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I really loved how the game, while being geared towards kids, was fun for the whole family. It supports 1-4 players and kids can even make their own playlists with up to 10 of their favorite dance songs. Not to mention, using the non-stop party shuffle mode provides a real work out for the parents. I was huffing and puffing and feeling the burn but it was so much fun that it didn’t even feel like exercise! I’m replacing a few of my morning elliptical work-outs with some Just Dance Kids 2014 dancing fun! I mean really, why wouldn’t you? Dance along to fun songs while having the opportunity to potentially embarrass your children in front of others? That’s perfection, my friends. Perfection indeed. 

 

This game would be a great addition to your holiday shopping list! I’m going to grab one for my sister and her family. I know they will love to have their own dance parties with my little nephew, who happens to be a huge Yo Gabba Gabba fan! You can grab your own copy or one to give as a gift from Amazon or GameStop. And be sure to check out the Ubisoft blog for more information!

 

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 
 

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