Your Holiday Party Survival Checklist

I don’t make it to the zoo much these days, but shopping any day in the month of December should suffice. But seriously. Parking takes twice the amount of time, and it’s almost necessary to hockey player-style check people to reach the aisle you need. I guess it’s the best time of the year if best means craziest.

In the flurry that is December, it’s easy to get bogged down with all the to-dos for these supposedly fun events. Another mug exchange? Another Christmas party? The twinge of guilt for not feeling festive is overrun by the dread of one more gift, one more drive in the cold, one more small-talk conversation. The holidays can be overwhelming, but with these tips, you’ll be able to breathe and actually enjoy yourself.

Always check clearance and aisle enders

As I was walking out the door earlier this week, I asked my roommate for prayers — because I was going to Target, and self-control is MIA when I step foot into this emporium of goodies. However, I don’t feel as bad about random purchases when they’re on clearance. It’s all about justification, right? As you prepare for the holiday season, check aisle enders and clearance sections to find items you can easy give at a mug swap or secret Santa. Also, consider buying in bulk to reduce costs. This year, I bought a set of 8 individually wrapped hot chocolate boxes and gifted these separately. Albeit small, these presents still show the thoughtful gesture.

Have your go-to outfits

Step aside, Lizzie McGuire; there will be some outfit repeating. When every group you belong to has its own party and you have to shop for gifts on top of that, a new outfit for each gathering just isn’t in the budget. (And if it were, save it for a vacation!) Before the party season begins, pick out two go-to outfits: one fancier, one more fun. This year I chose a velvet v-neck dress for a more formal event and a silly Christmas sweater for more festive events. You don’t have to be the Grinch this winter and not go just because you don’t know what to wear.

I recently received and tested a free sample of NYX Cosmetics Glitter Goals liquid lipstick in Crystal Crush.  After buying on clearance and trying Too Faced’s Melted Latex liquid lipstick (and not being crazy about it), I was pleasantly surprised with this glitter lipstick.  It’s not unbelievably thick (like Too Faced’s), and I love the classic color with a festive twist.  It’s such an easy way to spice up any holiday outfit.

Opt for decorating cookies or watching a Christmas movie

Bank statements flush your cheeks red and suck the breath out of you around this time of year. And you’re not the only one. Buying gifts for your family and close friends is expensive enough, but adding on random white elephants and mug swaps can feel burdensome. Feel free to set a cap of $5 to $10 on these, or consider a cheaper alternative like a cookie-decorating or movie-watching party. It’s one fewer time to brave the busy mall, and it’s kinder to your wallet. (And I don’t think it’s possible to watch The Grinch and ice cookies too many times!)

Don’t be afraid to limit your time

Saying no is tough. Not going to that mug swap might upset your book club; foregoing the white elephant might hurt your friend’s feelings. If completely skipping a party isn’t an option but you’re still stressed, don’t be afraid to limit your time at these gatherings. Consider letting your hostess know ahead of time that you might need to dip out early or arrive late. Holidays are wonderful, but your life, including work, school, errands, sleep and to-lists, doesn’t stop unfortunately. Your hostess probably understands the stress herself and cares about you too!

Buy a spool of ribbon or use newspapers to wrap

I love finding little trinkets and cutesy things to gift to friends, but after spending all that money, I sigh when I remember the wrapping. One way to cut costs is to buy one spool of ribbon and tie bows around each gift — instead of a glittery bag and fancy tissue paper. Or you can go a different route and wrap it with old newspapers.

Give framed photos as gifts 

That lady in your small group doesn’t need one more pair of fuzzy socks. They’re cozy and all, but consider switching it up with something more personal. I love gifting frames to friends with a favorite snapshot of us from the year. It’s unique and relatively inexpensive. Win, win!

The holiday season is abuzz with shopping, socials and stress, but cut back on the hoopla with these tips so you can enjoy your community.

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