The Holiday season is filled with excitement, shining smiles, and....exhaustion. As Christmas quickly approaches the daunting list of all of the things we need to do to prepare rears it's not-so-pretty head: buy gifts, plan travel, decorate the house, prepare for houseguests, and the list goes on...literally. 

Sometimes I can't help but think about all of the moms and dads out there who seem to have it all together, their tree is up, the presents were bought the year before, and the kitchen smells like pine cones and Santa Claus. I had a "perfect friend" like that, and one day I decided to ask her what her secret was, and you know what she said? Coffee and Jesus (yes, she really said that!). She went on to explain all of the ways she prepped for the holiday season and how how it saved her so much time and stress in the long run.

Let's face it, being a parent is hard enough and than we throw the holiday season into the pie mix and it makes you almost want to scream (but don't). We're here for you.

Below are some jolly and easy tips on how to not lose your head and actually allow yourself to enjoy the season minus the headache. 

Did someone say Amazon?
I know what you're thinking, Amazon is so impersonal, but think about it, no lines and you can shop all year around from the comfort of your own couch. One thing I noticed by trying this method was that through out the year I was able to keep tabs on what my kids actually wanted, instead of trying to catch hints in December and than scrambling to the nearest Target. It saved time and it was delivered to my front door. 

Don't overthink it
If you're anything like me, I stress on whether the red ribbon in the kitchen matches the ribbon on the wreath outside. Truth is, no one notices but you! Decorations are just a detail to the season, not a deal breaker. 

Houseguest(s) plan of attack
If we're lucky, we often have houseguests warn us a few weeks in advance before their arrival. Occasionally, we're surprised and instead of 5 houseguests, we have 8. Always have a list of where guests will sleep (even the surprisers), add blankets and pillows to that area before hand, assign a place for luggage, and keep a stack of towels in the bathroom(s). 

What I like to do is buy easy meals at Costco or Sams that I can just throw in the oven and forget about for about 30 min. This reduces stress and keeps everyone full. 

Candles
Do you want the air to smell like cinnamon rolls and love? Run to the store and buy some candles. Not only are they relaxing but it's a cheap and easy way to create an ambiance in your home. 
*This is what my "perfect friend" used in her kitchen ;) 

Traveling?
Car rides, plane rides, any kind of ride can be quite the task with kiddos running around. Whether it's in the air or on the ground the same tips apply: pack light, plan travel times, bring games, and include the kids in the planning. This way they feel as though they had some sort of hand in the whole thing. When kids feel in charge they take on more of a leadership role. Don't believe me? The next time you're at the grocery store and you see the child yelling in the cart next to you, while yours is picking the best pasta for dinner that night, you will understand.