Tips To Calm The Holiday Chaos

This post is sponsored by Red Baron but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

With Thanksgiving in just a couple of days, the holidays are on my mind and I’ve already started thinking about ways to calm the chaos that I know is right around the corner. Between the two boys and all of their school, sports, and other obligations, finishing everything on my giant to-do list before Emma is born (just 50 days until my due date!!), and all of the holiday gift shopping, decorating, and planning, I just know that things are going to be crazy around here. I’ve come up with a few simple ways to keep things running smoothly and I’m sharing them because I think these tips can help everyone during this hectic time.

Keep meals simple.

I’ve discovered that during the holidays it’s best to keep meals simple. I love having frozen pizzas on hand for those nights where we are running from event to event and don’t have time to cook. They are also wonderful for family movie nights where we are cuddled on the couch watching movies together. Pizza is one of the few things that everyone in my family loves and it even gets my picky eater’s seal of approval. We love Red Baron Classic Crust pizza because it has a crispy crust with delicious toppings and can be made quickly on busy evenings. Plus, there are 11 flavor varieties so there’s plenty of tasty choices to choose from.

Let go of perfection.

During the holidays I always want to make everything perfect but I’ve discovered that sometimes I’m so busy making sure everything is perfect that I don’t actually enjoy the holidays. And guess what? My kids fondest holiday memories aren’t the times when everything has been perfect but the moments when I was spending time with them. They’ll take the evening of helping me decorate the tree over branches full of perfectly placed ornaments. They’d rather help frost cookies -and add an extra shake or two of sprinkles- than have a platter full of professionally frosted sugar cookies. And perfectly wrapped gifts? My kids could care less so why have I spent so many hours agonizing over how the gifts are wrapped?

Pick your family’s favorite holiday traditions and schedule them.

When my boys were younger I tried to squeeze in every single holiday tradition that I could and would be dissapointed when we didn’t do everything on the long holiday “to-do” list. In recent years though, I have chosen to pick our family’s favorite traditions and make sure to schedule time for our family to do them. Things like making gingerbread houses, having a holiday “cousin’s sleepover”, packing shoebox gifts, visiting Santa, baking cookies, and having family over on Christmas Eve all make our list. Then I stopped worrying when those things that weren’t so important- the things that weren’t our favorite traditions- didn’t get done because I knew we had made time for those that meant the most to us as a family.

Make time for yourself

The holidays are typically the busiest time of year so make sure you are taking time for yourself every day! Whether that’s taking a bubble bath, enjoying a mug of hot apple cider or hot cocoa while you watch a holiday movie on Hallmark, or reading a good book, making time for yourself every day is essential to finding peace during the holiday season.

How do you calm the chaos during the holiday season? Chat with me on  Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and let me know.

Kinzie Hotel Brings The Holidays To Their Guests With The Holiday North Pole Express Package

Disclosure: My family enjoyed a complimentary stay at the Kinzie Hotel but all thoughts are my own.

The holidays are here! It’s a magical time of year and Kinzie Hotel, located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, wants to help their guests celebrate the holidays when they are away from home. To embrace the spirit of the season, the boutique hotel is offering the new Holiday North Pole Express Package featuring the North Pole Sweet Express delivering treats to guest rooms, passes to ice skating at Millennium Park, festive activities and more.

Guests who order the Holiday North Pole Express Package will enjoy the North Pole Sweet Express, a festively decorated vintage bar cart with treats galore! The cart includes a hot cocoa station featuring marshmallows, peppermint, and other toppings, boozy hot apple cider and hot cocoa, holiday-themed cookies, and Christmas candies. (For those traveling with fur-family members, dog-friendly holiday cookies are also available upon request.)

After a long day, including an auto accident on our way to the city, the North Pole Sweet Express was just what we needed to get our weekend back on track! Though there are so many things to do in the city during the holidays, I was content to just curl up in the comfy bed and spend an evening relaxing with my mug of hot apple cider while I watched my favorite college football team play on tv….

Along with treats and drinks, the North Pole Sweet Express also had ornaments we could take and decorate in our room. Once done we could hang them on the community Christmas tree in the lobby of the hotel or take them home to hang on our own tree.

For guests who want to get out and explore Chicago’s festive atmosphere, Kinzie Hotel offers guests maps of the city’s top holiday activities and attractions along with skating passes to Millennium Park. (Hopefully you all would have a less comical experience on the ice than we did this past weekend, with my boys trying out ice skates for the first time lol).

Kinzie Hotel’s Holiday North Pole Express Package is truly a holiday experience guests will not forget and such a great option for those who are away from home over the holidays. In addition to all the great offerings of this special package, Kinzie Hotel guests enjoy the many other perks that guests do year-round including deluxe continental breakfast served on every floor, a nightly manager’s reception with complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and a staff that is there to make sure their guests enjoy nothing but the best their entire stay.

Best of all, prices for this fabulous boutique hotel are really affordable which makes it the perfect holiday getaway your family will talk about for years to come! Ready to book your stay? Make reservations here.

How To Get Your Bathroom Ready For Holiday Guests

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GetUnderTheRim #CollectiveBias 

The holidays are coming and, for many, that means entertaining friends and family. We started a new tradition last year of having family over on Christmas Eve so, being the Type A person that I am, I’ve already started planning for it. I generally have always decorated my home for Christmas before the holiday chaos begins anyways, but I’ve also started planning the menu we will have and deep cleaning our home. I also like to get ready for any overnight guests I may have, like my younger siblings who need a place to stay when they come to town.

One room on the list to tackle is the guest bathroom. Since we live in a small home, we only have two bathrooms and our “guest” bathroom is also the bathroom that everyone in our home uses. Living with three males I’m sure you can imagine the mess I have to deal with in there. Generally Sinisa cleans the bathroom but when we are going to have guests over I like to clean it so I know everything is completely clean.

When getting the bathroom ready for guests I have a three step process. The first thing I have to do is clear the clutter. Even though the bathroom has plenty of storage, there always seem to be things left on the counter that don’t belong there.

Once the bathroom is picked up it’s time for some deep cleaning. I take down the shower curtain and put that, along with the bath rugs, in the washer. I then clean the sink and counter and shine the faucet. I scrub the tub, wipe down the walls and mirror and then move on to my least favorite part of cleaning the bathroom- the toilet.

After I clean the outside of the toilet I have to tackle the inside of it. Thankfully I’ve discovered the perfect tool for the job. The new Scotch-Brite® Disposable Toilet Scrubber is uniquely designed to reach messes under the rim that competing products miss. It also has a built-in bleach alternative cleaner with pumice that scrubs away rust & hard water stains. When I’m done cleaning the toilet I simply press the button on the handle to dispose of the scrubber and then set the handle into the holder until the next time I need it.

Once my toilet bowl is sparkly clean, I sweep and mop the floor, take out the trash, wipe down the trash can, hang the shower curtain up, put the rugs back on the floor, fill the soap dispenser and stock the toilet paper. I also make sure I have clean towels ready for our guests.

It’s then time for the fun part- decorating! Our guest bathroom has red walls so the room is already festive to begin with. I chose to add some cream, green and gold accents to the room.

I wanted to do something special for overnight guests and set out some toiletries for them in case they’d forgotten anything they needed. I had a glass hurricane to use for this project but you can use a large jar or any glass canister you have. The only other thing you’ll need to make the container is letter stickers. I used some gold ones since they would coordinate with my holiday decor but also look nice in the bathroom throughout the year.

I used the letter stickers to spell out “be our guest” on the glass. (To make sure the letters were being put on the glass in a straight line, I used a piece of paper edge to make myself a line to follow.) I then filled the glass hurricane with travel sized toiletries I had collected while traveling including shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap. I travel often so I have tons of hotel toiletries but you could also buy travel sized toiletries at Target to fill your container.

Speaking of Target, that’s where I bought the Scotch-Brite Disposable Toilet Scrubber and Scotch-Brite® Disposable Toilet Scrubber Refills (along with a number of holiday decorations and some cute holiday pjs!). I found them in the cleaning aisle with the toilet brushes, in between the trash cans and the sponges. Right now there are some great deals on these products at Target. Look for a “Try Me Now!” Instant Redeemable Coupon on each product to save $2. There is also a Cartwheel offer to save 15% off these new products (11/6-11/12).

Now I’m ready for the holidays and for my guests! Want to see how other bloggers are getting ready for the holidays? Check out their posts here. How do you prepare your home for holiday visitors?

10 Holiday Planning Tips

The Holidays are just around the corner so I wanted to share some ways that you can start planning now for a less stressful Christmas season. Here are my top 10 tips:

1) Start now! Once the Holiday season gets going you are going to have tons of events to go to and things to do.

2) Look through your Holiday items and take stock of what you have. I have found in years past that I have bought items I already had because I thought I ran out the year previously or needed more. I think I have enough gift wrap for the next 3 years now!

3) Consider making Christmas gifts this year. Everyone loves handmade gifts and it saves you money! Look through magazines or search Pinterest for great ideas and buy the supplies you will need to make them.

4) If you will be making Christmas dinner or having family over start planning your meals and send a “save the date” email to family so they can put it on their calendars now.

5) Plan and schedule family Holiday pictures. Figure out what your family will be wearing and what you will need to purchase. Does anyone need haircuts before the appointment?

6) Prepare to send Holiday Christmas cards. Do you have everyone’s address that you need? You can send out store bought ones or create something special by going online to a place like Storkie.com and personalizing cards.

7) Create a budget. I know how easy it is to head out shopping on Black Friday and spend way more than you planned on so I suggest making a budget for your Holiday shopping before you go out to the stores.

8) Think about traditions. Pull out a piece of paper and a pen or your ipad and make a list of all the traditions you enjoyed as a child, have enjoyed with your family in the past, or want to do with your family this year. Add any to your calendar that need to be scheduled ahead of time. Keep the list with you to refer to during the Holiday season to make sure that you don’t forget any of the important traditions you want to continue or start.

9) Along with all of the the things you feel you have to do, make sure that you plan in some time to relax with your family.

10) Start early! Yes, I already said this one but when this Christmas is over start preparing for next year. Buy toys, gift wrap, and decor on sale so you don’t have to pay full price for anything next season.

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I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.

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