With the holiday season in full swing, everything can seem a bit hectic. The days seem shorter, and prepping for family gatherings can be a bit daunting. My husband, Brian, and I both have large blended families, and Christmas is the one holiday a year where we try to see everyone. This typically involves us splitting our time between his family in Green Bay, and my family in the Chicago-area (aka lots of traveling!). It can be a stressful few weeks, but over the years I have found ways to prep our travels to make it much much easier.
The trick to quick and easy packing is knowing your itinerary! If I know everything that I’m doing during a trip, I will know exactly what to wear and what I’ll need. This goes for long vacations and quick weekends with the family.
Talk to your relatives ahead of time so you know what’s on the agenda for the weekend and you can come prepared. Going to church? Sledding? Baking cookies with grandma?… There’s an outfit for that! Keep it simple with layers that you can re-wear for a number of occasions.
Need help packing up the gifts? Put all of your gifts in a laundry basket! It makes them super easy to carry from place to place, and you then use it for bringing the gifts you received back home!
Make Gift Giving Simple
Because we tend to travel a lot during the holidays, I opt for small, simple gifts. To do this, I go to a local holiday market, like Chirstkindlmarket, and get all of my shopping done in one day at the beginning of the season.
I then spend the afternoon/evening listening to Christmas music, wrapping everything and placing it under our tree. It’s a fun littler tradition, and having our gifts done early really helps me feel organized (there is nothing worse than rushing last minute to find a gift for someone). The wrapped presents under the tree also adds to our decorations around the house, so it’s a win-win!
Leave the House Spick and Span
Whenever I go out of town, I like to leave with my house neat and tidy. I make the bed, clean the bathroom, tidy up the living spaces and take out the garbage. Seems simple, but, for me, this ensures coming home to no stress. I can come back from time with family and friends, enjoy some cocoa on the couch, and leave the un-packing for later.
Set Up The Party In Advance
What are the holidays without hosting at least one get-together? For the last few years, we have started a new tradition and host my parents and brother for a small Christmas dinner. To add to the stress of hosting, we are usually in Green Bay with Brian’s family for a few days before heading home a few hours before we’re expecting my family to arrive at our house for dinner (I know, I’m insane). But, I have learned that setting up for our little party ahead of time makes everything super easy!
Before we leave for a weekend in Green Bay, I will clean the house, and set the table for our Christmas feast. I will also set out which pots, pans and serving dished I will need for preparing dinner. That way when we get home, all I have to do is cook! You can also do this if you are hosting your family for the holidays and not going out of town. Set up the party the day before so the morning of, you can put everything in the oven and just enjoy time with your family.
Kelly is the face of travel and lifestyle blog, Passports & Cappuccinos. While she is a travel junkie at heart, she loves snuggling up at home with her hubby, a good movie and a scented candle. Her other passions include photography, hot coffees and petting every dog she can find. Working in advertising by day, she uses her blog to share stories of her travels and life in Milwaukee, WI.