We’ve all heard of the 12 Days of Christmas, but when you really think about it, getting all that stuff would probably be more trouble than it’s worth. Tallying up the totals has your True Love dumping 30 hens, 42 swans, 40 milk maids and a bunch of other stuff you’d probably never want, nor have the space for. Although 40 gold rings would be nice. Indeed, upon further review, the 12 Days of Christmas is not the greatest gift for someone. So we’ve put together a much better gift for you this year: super-special-secret life hacks!!! These quintessential 12 tips to survive the holiday season will propel you through the most hectic time of the year with flying colors!

Tip #1 to Survive the Holiday Season: Plan out a Budget

Budget, budget, budget. Just as almost anywhere in life, having a well-conceived budget established before the Christmas season can allow you to get everything you need for a fantastic celebration. Without a budget, it’s still possible to have a fantastic Christmas season filled with celebrations though…you’ll just have to deal with that dreaded pile of January bills and nobody likes those. If you find that your budget is already stretched too far before even finishing your shopping, there are still options available to you. Making gifts is cheap and can be fun too. My wife and I are actually heading out tonight to a group painting session where we’ll make two versions of the same landscape. It will be a fun and romantic evening, plus we’ll have made two Christmas gifts for people who we’re pretty sure never talk to each other. Golden!

Tip #2 to Survive the Holiday Season: Get Your Fitness On

One of the best things about the holidays is that there are lots of chocolates, candies, cookies and desserts to gobble up. Being the one person who consistently passes on sweets can get pretty tough, you might even draw the ire of other people who are munching down on the goodies and may be feeling a bit of guilt. So instead, just get a bunch of gym sessions in so you can eat whatever you want. PS: if you don’t want to start from a hole on January 1st with the rest of the “resolution gym people”…limit yourself to 3 glasses of eggnog…ok maybe 4 glasses. That stuff is amazing!

Tip #3 to Survive the Holiday Season: Do Your Shopping Early

Do your shopping early. If you wait too long, you know what’s coming because we’ve all been in that spot at least once over the years. Forced to wrestle through throngs of crazy people at the malls, and that’s only if you can even find a parking space to get in. If you’re a deal-hunter, opt for Cyber Monday instead of Black Friday (which has grown to closely resemble the few days before Christmas in terms of chaos).  Shopping from the comfort of your couch on Cyber Monday allows you to avoid the terrors and have everything you buy delivered to you by December 1st.

Tip #4 to Survive the Holiday Season: Don’t Dry Out

Get some hand cream…especially if you live in Alberta like me. In the winter, cold weather causes the air to lose some hydrogen making your skin more susceptible to dehydration. Without proper hydration, your skin can crack and lose its ability to protect you from germs and bacteria (which we all know are running rampant during flu season). Lotions and creams can be the difference between a reasonably pleasant winter and being bed-ridden with sickness.

Tip #5 to Survive the Holiday Season: Exercise Creativity for a Little Buzz

Holidays can come with a good amount of stress. Take the edge off with some of those alcoholic chocolates (just keep out of reach of children). Baileys works too and if your in-laws are particularly irritating just spike the punch unbeknownst to anyone else and you’ll be in for a great time. Make sure no one drives home at the end of the night though.

Tip #6 to Survive the Holiday Season: Outsource Your Christmas Dinner

Try to have Christmas dinner at someone else’s house. In my heyday, I could get as many as 4 free Christmas dinners over the holidays and never have to clean up a huge mess afterwards. It may seem like a selfish endeavor, but seriously, why should you be expected to host everyone? If you are used to being the Christmas dinner destination, it will be weird the first time you make the switch from host to guest, but you’ll thank yourself at the end of the night.

Tip #7 to Survive the Holiday Season: Or Opt for Efficiency in Dinner Prep

There’s no shame in getting a 4 pound Butterball or a nice Christmas ham. Honestly, if you’re just celebrating with your two or three closest loved ones, don’t bother slaving over a full 20 pound turkey and all the sides. The important thing about Christmas dinner is that everyone there gets fed a good meal. If that’s just a couple people, go for the minimalist route. You’ll save time and energy throughout the day, you won’t have as much to clean up, and you won’t get absolutely sick to your stomach from eating turkey every day until January 1st. Oh, and your fridge won’t smell like turkey, which is a good thing, trust me.

Tip #8 to Survive the Holiday Season: Be the Life of the Party

Wear a nametag if you’re planning on attending parties, even if no one else has one, it’s a great conversation starter, you’ll be the life of the party and everyone will remember you. Often, people get anxious about attending holiday parties. It’s totally natural to feel out of place sometimes, especially when you don’t know many of the other people (which happens to me like every time for some reason). However, when you can assert yourself as the star of the show, suddenly the anxiety goes away and you know everyone there. As a bonus from wearing your nametag, you’ll get a lot more party invites in 2017.

Tip #9 to Survive the Holiday Season: Bundle Up

Dress warm out there. Personally, I don’t mess around with cold weather. As soon as it gets below -5 degrees, I’ve got my boots and parka on, and they don’t come off til April. Sure it’s cold out there, but you don’t have to be. Just bundle up, regardless of the negative impact on your fashion sense. I’m often out and about rocking a suit with my big clucky boots. It might not be a good look, but I’m not getting frost bite.

Tip #10 to Survive the Holiday Season: Equip Yourself For Safe Driving

Snow tires are not required by law in certain provinces, yet are required by law in others. Whether or not laws are forcing you to make the switch, shouldn’t we all want to have all the tools we can get to increase our chances of safe driving in the winter? The answer to that question is YES WE SHOULD! It is proven that some snow tires can reduce stopping distance by up to 85% compared to summer or all-season tires. That could be the difference between stopping safely, preserving your health and your car, and sliding right into the big truck in front of you. So give yourself the best chance to arrive safely whenever the holiday season takes you and your family…get some snow tires.

Tip #11 to Survive the Holiday Season: Don’t be a Hero

Christmas cards are actually a lot of work when you think about it. Some people hand-craft their cards and personalize each message. Others opt to send out the standard family portrait with everyone decked out in their festive attire and just have a nice “Season’s Greetings” inside. But the fact is that either of these options still involves a large amount of effort to pull off. Getting stamps, tracking down and organizing dozens of addresses, and mailing them all out at the precise time to arrive on the 24th is an exhausting venture. Save yourself some time and stress this season and just throw up a family photo on Facebook with a “Happy Holidays to You and Yours” caption.

Tip #12 to Survive the Holiday Season: When the Weather Outside is Frightful…Peace Out!

If all else fails, head south and lie on a beach somewhere. If you fly on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you can usually get some great deals on flights to Mexico or the Caribbean. Last year, my wife and I went south for the holidays with a couple of friends. It was great. Blue and green everywhere, with not one spec of the dreaded white stuff in sight was fantastic. I almost forgot what a snow shovel was…until we got back. Another great aspect of opting for a Christmas vacation is that you’ll be the envy of everyone in Canada and posting all your photos will be ultra-satisfying. The only thing to watch out for is the small feeling of emptiness around the first week of January. We couldn’t figure out what the lull feeling was from last year until we realized that we missed seeing our family. Fortunately, there’s an easy remedy for this, just make it a point to have an amazing family weekend in January.

There you have it, follow these 12 tips and you’ll cruise through this holiday season with ease. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas from me and everyone here at Cashco.

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