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.

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Black Friday Shopping Tips

Happy Friday, loves!

I hope you all had the most beautiful and amazing Thanksgiving! Our home was filled with people we love, more food that we could possibly eat, too much fun and laughter, and probably a few too many cocktails. It was everything.

Now that you’re properly stuffed, adequately hating yourself for eating that 3rd helping of dinner, and feeling a little like you cannot do much more than roll out of bed – and we do mean roll – it’s time to talk shop. And by shop, I obviously mean shopping. I love Black Friday – though I don’t go shopping on Black Friday outside of my robe (and on my couch and with my coffee). One, because there is no sale worth the road rage I know I’m going to have today, and two, because today is DÉCOR DAY! Or, as we call it in the Raiford house, the best day ever.

We go buy our beautiful, amazing, insane tree. Every year I try to get one taller than the year before, but it’s really, really hard in Florida to find anything taller than 16-17 feet. My Christmas tree room, however, has 23-foot ceilings and huge windows, so finding the biggest tree ever is always my goal.

Anyway, we go buy the big tree. Then we come home and decorate it and the smaller tree in the family room and the master bedroom. The kids all get 3-4 foot trees for their bedrooms, and we do let them choose new decorations for their trees every year.

Then….we decorate. The Christmas music comes on for the first time all year. The hot chocolate is flowing. There are cookies baking (because the kids love that) and we are all having the best day ever. I cannot even – it’s my favorite.

Because I want you to also have the best day ever, I want to share with you my favorite Black Friday shopping tips.

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Stay Home

No, really. There is nothing better than sleeping in, drinking your coffee in your robe, and doing not a darn thing until you are ready.

Shop the Right Sales

Honestly, I never know where I want to shop the most. It all depends on the year, but I will share with you some of my no-fail Black Friday orders.

  • Nordstrom: You will always find great sales online on Black Friday on anything and everything
  • Bath and Body Works: Would you judge me if I told you I burn a 3-wick candle out in two days? Well, that’s what happens when you work from home. So, this day is a major candle sale day, and I load up since you can stack all those coupons they mail you.
  • Crew: I always find something majorly on sale here.
  • Dillards: I love Dillards on Black Friday because they have the lowest and most ridiculous prices on kid’s Under Armour apparel, and that’s all my son and my nephew wear, so I fill that cart!
  • Old Navy: When you have a 7-year-old who is as hard on her clothes as mine, you buy her stuff here, today.
  • Sephora: Honestly, they just had their 20% off sale twice in the past few weeks, so don’t be surprised if they throw something else out today. They always do well.

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Those are my favorites, but sometimes I find things elsewhere. It just depends on what catches my eye as I peruse my inbox that morning and see all the listed sales.

Don’t Stress

Listen, ladies, there are going to be a million and one more sales this holiday season, and some of them will be better than the last one. You will not miss out if you don’t buy something today. I guarantee you will find it still on sale in a week.

Skip the Hot New Items

You can’t find it, so stop stressing yourself out about it. It’ll be back in full stock at the beginning of January, and you will get it for less. Trust me.

Bake Something

Cinnamon rolls or French toast or something like that. It’s such a nice way to start the day, and you feel so good about life. Just do it. It’s how I like my Black Fridays.

Stocking Stuffers for Him Under $100

I shared a few of my own personal favorite stocking stuffers for the beloved ladies in your life on Monday, but what about the men in your life? Husbands, fathers, boyfriends, best friends, brothers, the mailman…hey, I don’t know what you do in your personal time.

My husband loves when the items in his stocking are useful and enjoyable, and Santa works hard to ensure that happens. He loves when there are new socks in there. He’s obsessed with Lacoste underpants, too – and that’s something he’s going to love me sharing with all of you, I’m sure. Some Hershey kisses, a few lottery tickets he can scratch off, new toothbrushes….maybe even a new beard trimmer. He likes useful, and I like him.

So he’s gone through my Sephora app to find his favorite stocking stuffers for the practical – and amazing-smelling – man in your life. Each one is under $100 to make it easy for you to stuff his stocking. And with free two-day shipping for only $10 a year, you have plenty of time to get it in time for Santa’s arrival.

Givenchy: Gentlemen Only Cologne

This is by far my favorite cologne. It’s masculine and light, but also just so subtle. When he walks by in this, I just want to be close to him….if that’s not incentive, what is?

YSL L’Homme Deodorant

It’s not always easy to find deodorant that works well and smells good, but this one takes it all the way. It’s strong enough to last all day, but light enough it doesn’t leave him feeling as if he has too much on or not enough on.

The Art of Shaving: Shaving Cream 

Sandalwood is so subtle and masculine, and that’s what makes this shaving cream so amazing. My husband doesn’t shave often because he only trims his facial hair but when he does, he uses this and it smells so good.

Peter Thomas Roth Shampoo and Conditioner

If the man in your life doesn’t want to smell like your shampoo and conditioner, try this. It’s very light, and it leaves his hair soft and clean. It’s not frilly, and that’s what makes it perfect for his everyday grooming needs.

{All Photos Courtesy of Sephora.com}

 

Stocking Stuffers from Sephora Every Woman Will Love

One. Week.

And it’s the most wonderful time of the year; I love everything about this time of year, but I have one small complaint.

I despise stockings. Nothing makes me crazier than “stuff,” and it seems everyone just fills stocking with “stuff,” just to fill them.

You won’t find “stuff” in our stockings. You’ll find useful, necessary items everyone loves, needs, and will actually use.

And some Christmas candy. Because sugar.

The kids get DVDs, and new toothbrushes, and underpants, and socks, and headbands and bows, and any little item they’ve been asking for (fidget cubes seem to be super important to our big kids this Christmas).

My husband is a stocking-stuffer genius. There’s always a little blue box, my favorite chocolate, a pretty bottle of perfume, or spa gift cards in my stocking. He’s good – and he always includes things he knows I’ll use and want.

And he’s always sure to pick them up from Sephora. He steals my phone, goes through my app, and he always gets it right. I thought since it’s the season for giving, I might give you a few ideas for the ladies in your life. Wives, moms, daughters, best friends, etc. – all from Sephora and ALL under $100.

Perfume

Who doesn’t love a scent that’s light and subtle, but oh-so elegant? To be 100% honest, I love to wear men’s cologne. I love Victor & Rolf’s Spice Bomb, Givenchy’s Gentleman Only…but I also know my husband isn’t a huge fan of me wearing his cologne and smelling like a man.

I just prefer the way he smells, and it’s so hard for me to find perfume that’s not too feminine and floral. That’s what I looooove about these three. They’re elegant, lovely, and feminine without being girly…and I love finding them in my stocking!

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Moisturizer

Let’s face it – this time of year is hard on our skin. A perfect moisturizer is difficult to find. Until now. You’re welcome.

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Blackhead Removers

Gross; I know. But trust me when I say these will forever change your life. Your face. Your confidence level. Get one for you and one for your favorite friend.

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Face Mask

Masks are so helpful this time of year, especially when they help you find a little of moisture you lose in the cold air.

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Airbrush Makeup

2017 was the year I realized my 34-year old skin no longer looks quite so good in my Bare Escentuals mineral powder. I’ve been using it for over a decade, and my skin no longer responds.

I had to find something new that lasts all day, doesn’t sweat off in the Florida sun, and doesn’t feel so heavy.

Thank you, Sephora. This airbrush makeup is everything. Someone on your list is going to love finding this in her stocking.

Photos from Sephora.com