My Weapon Against Holiday Busyness – Advance Planning!

As I have mentioned before, I am type-A leaning, so I value efficiency, organization, and planning. With my daughter in 4 year old kindergarten, our lives have certainly adopted a quicker pace week in and week out.  To stay ahead and not get overwhelmed, I always try to think ahead. I’m that person buying Christmas presents in July, picking up birthday party favors weeks in advance, and recording important dates and to-do’s in my planner.

My weapon against holiday busyness IS simple – Advance Planning!

As many of you have noticed, the holidays are ALREADY upon us. I’ve seen a mix of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in stores lately.  YIKES! I do have a few gifts in hand, so I don’t expect to have a hectic, last-minute shopping season, which is SO not my style. Daddy O., on the other hand, is a different story, but that’s his deal!

Similarly, I often start looking at holiday card options this time of year.  I enjoy trying to find a good family picture to share in our annual holiday card. I love the old-fashioned tradition of sending and receiving cards.  It’s something that social media just can’t replace.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new holiday card source this year.  It’s a site called Minted. What I love is that it is an independent design community, so think small, talented, independent designers who have their works voted on and sold through Minted. This means my card won’t be like every other one I receive.  It will be unique!

This quick video is a cool intro to Minted.  Many moms (either working or staying at home) are also designers, pursuing their passion and submitting their work to the design challenges on Minted.  This community of designers (similar to the blogosphere) delivers beautiful, award winning design.

Moms pursuing their passions – hmm…sounds familiar. And yes, I’d like to support that community!  I bought my daughter’s Halloween costume from Etsy (an Elsa dress), and it seems that Minted is a sort of Etsy of cards, art, and decor.

The number of choices is a bit overwhelming, but I managed to find a few favorites.

Minted Watercolor Bunting Holiday Card

Love this Watercolor Bunting at the top of the card! There is also a gold foil, shiny option.

Being a proud Sconnie, or Wisconsin native, I like the idea of this card, but I don’t like that Wisconsin was covered up.  Daddy O. and I did, however, once call Pittsburgh home.  This COULD have been our card then when it was just the two of us! There is also a West Coast version of this card, but I think Wisconsin was covered up in that one too.  Bummer – this option is not for us.

Minted Holiday Map Holiday Card

Fun way to show off where you live in a holiday card.

I was drawn to the fun lettering on these cards.

I am not sure what family pictures I have to include in this year’s card, so I may have to get creative with multiple photos on one card.  Here were some multiple photo options that caught my eye:

Minted Holiday Collage Photo Card

A card with multiple pictures may work best for our family.

My family isn’t too big on super heros, but I someday we may be.  When that is the case, we’ll use a card like this:

Minted Comic Book Holiday Card

You could really have fun with this card’s comic book style!

Certainly professional photographers’ pictures are far superior to my own snapshots, and I’m having a little picture envy just looking at all these lovely cards used on the site.  In the spirit of advance planning, here are some tips on how to get a great family picture for holiday cards by Heather Lee on Julep. She recommends having pictures taken now and having a photo card in mind, so the photographer can compose the shot correctly.  Good tips!

For our own card, I’ll try my best to snap some good pictures within the next few weeks or use what we have.  I think these two cards are my top holiday card contenders:

Next step – playing on Minted with some of these cards and my pictures.  Stay tuned to see which pictures and what card I choose!

This was a sponsored post, but the opinions expressed were my own. Photography by Minted.

Regular Old Summer Days

As I look at our schedule for summer, I see some wide open days during my work-at-home mom days. These days are quite precious, as we tend to have busier weekends as a family. As such, I try to cram in as much home stuff and errand running as I can in these days, so we can enjoy our weekends a bit more.  Like so many other families, we are trying to squeeze every last drop of fun and enjoyment out of summer as we can. Our Wisconsin winter was so brutal that we truly deserve and savor the sweetness of summer.  Some of our plans are heading to the zoo, camping, going to weddings, seeing friends and family, hiking, biking, walking, swimming, enjoying picnics, and grilling out.

Nestled in between all of the busyness, I crave and hope for some regular old summer days. These days remind me of growing up as kids in our neighborhood, when we didn’t have any plans and often complained we were bored.  Eventually, we’d rally all of the neighborhood kids and create our own fun.  Nowadays I think we can miss out on this unstructured fun with our busy and often over-scheduled summers.

Here are a few elements that define a regular old summer day for me:

  • Slowly starting out our day, lingering over a breakfast and enjoying my coffee
  • Get outside to play in the yard / sit on the deck
  • Have a picnic
  • Lounge on the picnic blanket in the shade (and maybe take a nap)
  • Hang laundry on the line for a warm, sun-bathed scent
  • Take a walk / bike ride around the block or to the park
  • Stop by the local farmer’s market for delicious fare for an easy dinner
  • Smell like sunscreen
  • Make our own lemonade to drink
  • Grill out & eat dinner on the patio
  • Enjoy ice cream at the end of the day

Cheers to days like these!  What do you love about regular old summer days?  Do you have grand plans plus some free time just to chill?