Pre-Holiday Stress? Try These 7 Things

Happy Monday, loves!

Can you believe there are only 8 more days until Christmas? This is the single best week of the year, and I cannot believe it’s here already! But, let’s be a little bit honest. This time of year can be a little overwhelming if you’re not careful. Parties, events, travel, hosting, and more can make it seem like you have more to do than you have time to do it, and you are not alone in that feeling.

December is halfway over, and we haven’t had a moment to breathe in our house. The kids have an activity every single time we turn around. Christmas parties and events at school on top of their regularly scheduled sports, teams, and events. My husband’s company hosts a beautiful Christmas party every year that we cannot say no to (he works from home only, and he only goes to the office two or three times a year because we live so far away). It’s a weekend-long event for us since we have to travel, and it’s one of the most fun weekends of the year. Add that to our other regularly scheduled travel plans and hosting, and we are just exhausted.

Last week, for example, my husband and I were in Tampa for the weekend at his company Christmas party. It was such a beautiful, elegant evening in the Le Meridien ballroom. A sit-down dinner and casino night, and all the excuses to wear a floor-length sequin gown – it was all my favorite things wrapped up into one amazing night. And, I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend the weekend away with my love shopping and spending quality time together. I swear, I think that’s what makes our marriage so much fun. We have the best time together, and we definitely make the most of it!

This weekend, we packed up and left again to spend the weekend at the Gaylord with the kids and our oldest daughter’s best friend and her family. We love the Gaylord, and we try to spend a few weekends there every year because the kids love it so much. ICE was amazing – as usual – this year, and the kids have never had more fun.

Honestly, I cannot even begin to explain with words how amazing they were this weekend. They travel often, and they know how to behave when we are in a hotel or a restaurant or plane or whatever, but this weekend was even more spectacular than we imagined. They were having too much fun with our friends’ daughters to even bother bickering with one another – and it was glorious! What a fun weekend. We rushed home Sunday so that my sweet Charlotte and I could enjoy a ladies’ brunch with our favorite friends (Miss Ava has a sore throat and stayed home because she has a performance at school today and she cannot be sick and miss it) and Addison opted to stay in Orlando with our friends.

It was such a good weekend.

But, we are tired. And we still have to prep for the week ahead, and it occurred to me today that I have no free time this week between Ava’s class performance, my annual shopping day with my best friend, our usual evening activities, the kids’ half-day on Friday followed immediately by a birthday party followed immediately by about a million other things – and we are hosting a brunch for 25 on Saturday. I’m not even done shopping for Christmas yet, wrapping still has to be done, I’m still waiting on packages to arrive, and we have no time.

This is also the busiest time of year for me in terms of work. I’ve found myself running late almost every morning and afternoon heading to school, working after the kids go to bed, and I even found myself responding to emails from clients the other day while sitting on my yoga mat waiting for class to start.

When the actual hell will I not be so busy?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed this time of year.

If you’re in the same boat, here are a few pre-holiday stress tips that I use to help me calm down, reduce my anxiety about getting it all done, and remembering to enjoy this season.

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Delegate

The single best thing I do in life – delegate. Get someone else to mow your lawn and water your flowers. Hire someone to do the non-everyday cleaning at home (think bathrooms and ceiling fans and blinds and baseboards and dusting and stuff you don’t do every single day when you’re straightening up as you go). Order your groceries and have them delivered. Order your gifts and let someone else wrap them (I do not let someone else wrap my gifts – I won’t lie to you. I do it myself because I have specific wrapping paper I use to organize and match gifts every year. I can’t haphazardly wrap gifts in mismatched paper. It throws the main tree all off).

My husband and I delegate a lot of stuff because we simply don’t have time for it, and that is the single best decision we ever made. It’s even better this busy season.

Workout

At the risk of sounding judgmental, I just don’t get people who don’t workout. Like, how do you not love to feel so good about yourself when you’re done? I don’t know if my body just releases some kind of abnormal amount of endorphins, but I feel so freaking good after a workout. Nothing that was on my mind before a workout seems to matter after. It’s so good. Try it – because you can eat more Christmas goodies when you’re done. Best thing ever.

Be Mindful of What You’re Putting Into Your Body

This is a big one. l love sweets as much as the next girl, mostly during a certain week of the month. However, most days you’ll find me eating nothing but good, healthy, delicious food. I don’t indulge much, and I really don’t have many cravings for ‘bad’ foods. When I do, I absolutely eat them. However, I’m very mindful what I put into my body.

For example, the last thing I do when I’m feel overwhelmed or stressed is eat junk. I know it makes me feel heavy and disgusting, and I don’t eat it. I also don’t drink anything but coffee or water, and I don’t take anything. I don’t do well with medication or supplements, so I just don’t take them. I find that you just feel better when you eat good-for-you foods and enjoy those. Your body needs the right stuff, and your job is to make sure it’s getting it. I promise you, it definitely makes you feel better (lighter, more energized, non-moody).

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Bake Something

Is that hypocritical after saying you shouldn’t put a bunch of crap in your body if you’re not feeling well already? You don’t have to eat it to bake it. I don’t eat a lot of what I bake, but I love to bake this time of year. There is something so good about being in the kitchen with the smells of amazing things baking. It’s just so Christmasy, and it makes me so happy! I just give away whatever I bake – and people love that!

Set Aside Time For What You Really Enjoy

For me, it’s spending quality time with my husband and my kids. We love to schedule an early night where we take early baths and showers, get into our matching Christmas pajamas, make some popcorn and hot chocolate (wine) and watch a Christmas movie together. Our kids LOVE when we watch Home Alone, and it’s our favorite holiday tradition.

Give Back

If there is one thing we want our kids to know and do and see us doing, it’s to give back. There are so many families who have so little, and we have so much. Giving back is what we’re meant to do, and nothing feels as good as knowing that a little generosity – even if it doesn’t take any time our effort in our lives – can change someone else’s life forever. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, forget what’s on the schedule, go out, and make someone’s holiday dreams come true. I can assure you that you will forget what had you so stressed in the first place.

Remember to be Thankful

When life gets a little overwhelming, I just sit back, take a few deep breaths (try five-count breathing….one of the very best things I ever learned at yoga), and remember that while I may be overwhelmed or annoyed at how much I have to do and how little time I have to do it, I’m beyond fortunate. I have a wonderful family, an active and exciting social life with friends who are absolutely family, a beautiful home, the freedom to enjoy life, and everything I ever prayed for and dreamed of growing up. I might be annoyed or overwhelmed, but I’m also living a life that’s beautiful – and I’m very blessed. Sometimes it takes a quick reminder that life is good to calm me down immediately. I have no complaints, and I’m not in the business of creating them.

Hostess Gifts to Keep On Hand

Happy Wednesday, loves! 

There is nothing I love more this time of year than the feeling I get when the holidays are here. I can’t explain it, but you know what I mean. It’s a feeling of contentment. Happiness and joy and love and excitement. It’s everywhere, and I’m in love.
One thing I always make sure I have around the holidays is a stash of gifts – just in case. Hostess gifts, last minute gifts, you know the type. When the amazing team at Crabtree & Evelyn reached out and asked if I’d like to try out the Hands Delight Hand Therapy Trio, I was obviously on board with that. Ever since, it’s become one of my very favorite items to have and to give.
Since my husband and I always seem to need a gift quickly, we keep a cabinet in our office filled with perfect hostess gifts we can grab and take with us even when we haven’t any time. That includes our favorite Crabtree & Evelyn gift set.

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Crabtree & Evelyn Lotion Set
This is more than just a little amazing as a gift. First, who doesn’t love Crabtree & Evelyn products? Second, who doesn’t love a gift set with more than one gift in it?! It’s the perfect gift because people actually need it when the weather is cold and their hands are dry – and it smells amazing. Right now, all my readers can use promo code “MASHUP20” for 20% off your entire order – plus free shipping!
Wine/Champagne
Most everyone loves a bottle of something wonderful, so we keep a few of our personal favorites on hand all the time. We love a mixture of price points, too. Everything from a super affordable $25 bottle of red to a bottle of Chandon and Moët that’s pricier, but oftentimes more appropriate.
Candles
During the holidays, I love to keep an array of Bath & Body Works holiday scented candles on hand, but I also love Diptyque candles throughout the year. Why? People love candles! What’s not to love?!
Flowers
The only problem with fresh flowers is that they can’t be kept on hand. If we have time, roses or peonies – depending on the season  – are my favorite go to. If you have time to stop, always go for flowers!
What’s your favorite hostess gift to give or receive? Let me know in the comments!

Subscription Boxes: The Christmas Gift that Keeps On Giving

Happy Monday, loves!

It is officially December, and that is officially exciting! We’ve been living our best lives over here the past few weeks, and I’ve been a little MIA. Last week was a crazy one. Thanksgiving was the week before last, and it was a beautiful week. Family, friends, food, and so much love. We have so much to be thankful for, and we certainly don’t take that for granted.

Last week was back to normal except not normal. Carter developed a viral infection that turned into a double ear infection that he shared with his twin sister. He was out of school 4.5 days (he left early Monday) and she was out the last two days of the week. It was a hectic week in general, but we made it work.

This week is just as crazy. I’m up even earlier than 5 am all week to get a few hours of work in before I have to be at the girls’ school to do my PTA board member duties with my PTA sister wives at the Gingerbread Shoppe all day, every day, and into the night Friday because of the Winter Festival with Santa. It’s the mom life, and I love it. It totally helps that my PTA sister wives are the most inappropriate, hilarious, completely insane, questionable, fabulous women imaginable – as am I – and we work very, very well together.

Because of that, I worked my behind off last week and over the weekend to get ahead on my deadlines so I don’t stress myself out this week, and I basically killed it. I also killed my second ever 5k this weekend – if you remember that I only began running the last week of April this year. I ran all 3.1 (except it was really 3.33) miles without stopping – in the pouring rain. I did 3 miles in 28:47 and finished overall in 30:58.14 – 99th place out of 206 runners. And I’m really, really proud of myself.

And then I shopped online for things. All the things. Because I love to shop, and I love to give gifts to the people I love, so Christmas is my jam. And while I was shopping online for all the things and my husband was going through his yearly tradition of wondering what kinds of gifts to get me since we buy what we want when we want it, I had a thought.

Subscriptions.

Subscription services are the best thing ever right now. Who doesn’t love to get new things all the time while paying a small fee for it? Boxes that show up on your doorstep filled with things that you love? It’s a win-win for everyone since these are typically the one gift that no one ever has.

That said, I’m going to share a few of the lesser-known subscription boxes that I think will become huge before much longer – and they’re not all boxes; some are just subscriptions – because I love them and have them at home. It literally is the gift that keeps on giving.

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photo from sephora.com

Play! By Sephora

It’s not like it’s a big secret that I’m totally obsessed with Sephora. It’s where I’ve done all my beauty and haircare shopping for the past 15 years of my life, and I was not about to pas sup this box when I saw it a few months ago. The box comes monthly, it’s small, and it has a few fun-size samples and larger sizes in the boxes. Every month is totally different, but you also get to fill out a questionnaire when you sign up for it that allows you to customize your personal needs (is your skin oily or dry? Do you prefer bright colors or muted colors?) so they always send you something you can use.

This box costs a grand total of $10.60 per month, and it’s so much fun. It always comes with 4-5 items all in the trial-size portions. Perfume, lip stick, mascara, moisturizer, and so much more. You even get a gift card that gives you 50 free Beauty Insider points to add to your next purchase if you enter it at check out. This box is my favorite because it allows me to try new things I might not otherwise try, and I can decide for 10 bucks if I love them, hate them, or have no feelings for them whatsoever.

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photo from art of organics 

Art of Organics

This box has become one of my favorites ever since the company reached out to me and asked me if I’d like to try it out. It’s all about clean beauty delivered monthly to your door. This box comes with two to four products every month, and they are beyond amazing. What’s even better – they are full-size products. No sample or trial sizes here, thank you very much.

Every box has a theme. It might be a hair care month. It might be a winter box. It might be a skin care box. It might anything, but it’s always amazing. You can choose to order one box at a time for $41.95 monthly, buy six boxes at a time for $39.95 a box ($239.70 one time payment) or buy a full year of boxes for $455.40 ($37.95 per box).

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photo from cosmobox

CosmoBox

Thank you, Cosmo, for sending this to our lives. It is the best. It’s a box with all of the latest and greatest in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle items. You get to try them out every months for a grand total of $29.99 per month. This box always contains more than $60 in goodies, so it’s a great deal. It is another on that lets you try new things for a great price – which is always a win!

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photo from the bouqs company 

The Bouqs Company

If you’re anything like me, you love fresh flowers. I cannot go without them in my home, and you will never find us without fresh flowers in most rooms. This is a perfect subscription for anyone who loves beautiful flowers. For $32 per month, you get to have a fresh floral arrangement delivered to your front door. It’s always different, always seasonal, and always makes you feel so much happier when you see it arrive. It’s your personal best, and you will love it.

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photo from target

Cat & Jack Outfit Box from Target

So…new moms. Here you go. You’re welcome, and you’re going to love this. If you know a new mom, this will cost you $40 per month. It’s all kinds of adorable Cat & Jack (you know the brand from Target) clothing that is delivered monthly – and they even send the next size up as your baby grows. They keep track of all of it for you, and it might be the best idea since, well, anything else.

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Rent the Runway Update

If you have someone in your life who loves designer clothing and accessories, you want to spend the $80 per month on this shipment. It’s four items that come to your door. You get to keep them for one month. You get to choose what you want so you always have four gorgeous news items in your closet to wear for one month. If they don’t fit, send them back and they will ship you new ones. Hate something? Send it back and you’ll get a new one. You get to choose what you want, how you want it, and you get to have it all sent to your door. It’s hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes shipped to you every month.

The best part is that you can customize the shipment every month to meet your needs. Going on vacation? Get all the Lilly Pulitzer. Is it the holiday season? Order all the beautiful red dresses. You can update your wardrobe monthly without any commitment, and that’s what makes this the best box on the market.