The Overwhelmed Busy Mom Last Minute Gift List

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Are you a procrastinator?  There are just a few short days left before Christmas is here and I'm going to be sharing a gift list for everyone on your list.  

With just about a week before Christmas now is the time to getting the shopping completed.  Instead of trying to find a time to get out of the house on your own or having to pack the kids in the car to get your shopping done, why not hop on Amazon and complete your shopping in an hour or less.

Below I'm sharing some of my picks for everyone on your list this Christmas.  These are gifts that you can put together in an afternoon so you can check gift shopping off your list!  Are you ready?

The dreaded white elephant gift:

I don't like wasting money and that's why I chose these.  As a busy mom, my tea is constantly cold.  I'm always warming up my "fresh cup of tea" in the microwave.  That's why this mug warmer is a perfect gift for all of those busy moms out there.

Party games are so much fun.  By giving a gift of a party game, you might find yourself being invited to the next party.  

Anyone with kids that have activities will love this gift!  It doesn't matter if you're watching a football game, volleyball match, or even a band concert the benches that parents sit on are very uncomfortable that is why this portable cushion is perfect for all parents!

The dad's on your list:

My husband and father are the hardest people to shop for.  It seems like when they need something they just get it.  That why I picked these three gifts.

Growing your own cocktails can be a fun and useful gift for dads that enjoy a cocktail every once in a while.

How often do you notice stripped out screws?  This damaged screw extractor is perfect for all households and reducing the stress of all of the dads out there.

Beards are all the rave right now.  Try setting them up with a wet shave kit.  This is something that they probably won't buy for themselves but will enjoy day after day.

The teens on your list:

My girls love games.  That's why my picks for teen gifts are games.  They are perfect for family night and sleepovers.  You can't go wrong with some good ol' fashioned game night.  

As a personal note, our family loves Exploding Kittens.  

The preteens on your list:

We find it important for kids to create and use their mind.  There is so much screen time having them learn and create will help balance the everyday game play and YouTube watching.  

I've picked three gifts that will be fun for boys or girls.

The kids on your list:

The kids at this age still love toys but they can be a little picky (at least mine are!)  So I picked a combo of games, puzzles, and toys to help any kid on your list.

The toddlers on your list:

I love shopping for toddlers, they are starting to know what they love and are still open to new things.  I picked three things my girls loved.

My youngest when she was a toddler wanted to grow up to be a monkey because she loved George so much.  

Both of my girls love creating puppets and they had their own cleaning stuff which made cleaning up fun for them.

The babies on your list:

You cannot go wrong with a soft as can be stuffed animal, nursery rhymes, and a toy that helps with hand-eye coordination, sounds, and lots of learning.  That's why I chose these three gifts for the babies on your list.

And finally the mom's on your list:

These choices are things on my list.  I love fresh herbs year round so having a herb growing kit is a perfect gift that I can have in my kitchen and enjoy day after day.

I don't know about you but I can have troubles sleeping.  When I lay down to go to sleep, all I can think about is what needs to be done.  That's why I thought this would be a perfect item for all of those busy moms that can't shut their mind off when they need to sleep!

I love YouiSocks.  They are non-slip socks (which have saved me more than I'd like to admit!).  You can wear them around the house, to yoga, to travel (TSA checkpoint) or if you're expecting a baby they're perfect for the hospital.

So that is it.  This is my list of last minute gifts and with Amazon Prime, you can have them on your doorstep in two days without having to leave your home.

I hope that you found this gift guide helpful so you can complete your holiday shopping without breaking the bank or taking too much time.

Thank you so much for stopping by, I've added a few posts below that I think you might like!

Have an amazing holiday season and day!

Jenn

How To Prep Your Home For Out Of Town Guests

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The holiday season comes with a lot of different stresses, gift giving, holiday parties, oh and the dreaded out of town guests.  It's like a love-hate relationship.  Those guests live out of town so it's good to see them, but...you have to get the house ready for them...

In this post, I'm going to share my tips that you can use to prep your home for out of town guests.  I'm going to be sharing things that should be done and I'm going to share things that you may want to purchase so you can make them feel more at home.

I've also included a checklist to help you make this a little easier.  It's free and all you have to do is click the button below to download it!

So let's get to it!

Decided where they're going to sleep.

Most of us don't live in a 20 bedroom home with lots of space to put guests.  So the first thing you'll need to do is figure out where they are going to sleep.

Do you have a spare room?  Do you have a sofa that has a fold out bed?  Will you be blowing up air mattresses?  

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Declutter the room they'll be using

The next thing you'll want to do is declutter the room they'll be using.  I've done tons of videos and posts on this very subject that I'll link for you below.  

If you're not familiar with my decluttering technique, I do 20-minute decluttering sessions.

You can learn more about that by clicking on the link below.

Related: My 20-minute decluttering session.

Spot clean

Once you've done the decluttering, it's time to do some spot cleaning.  You don't want to spend hours upon hours getting the room(s) ready for your out of town guests, that's why I like to spot clean.

This is like surface cleaning.  What you'll do is take a look at the room.  What areas aren't clean?  Then quickly clean those areas.  You may be pulling out things in that room and putting them in a room that people won't be using.  Believe me, that is okay!  We all do it!

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Clean bedding, towels, pillows, and extra blankets

Once the room is clean, it's time to get the bedding together.  You'll want to make sure that they have clean bedding, pillows, and extra blankets.  

If your guests are used to a warmer climate (like my guests) this is an important touch.  

This time of year the heat of the day will hit about 38 degrees F.  So my guests will usually be a lot colder than they are used to.

Finally, you'll want to make sure that they have access to towels.  I want my guests to feel at home that is why I put the towels in their room with a laundry basket so they don't have to ask where the towels are and what they should do with the dirty ones.

Then each day I'll empty the laundry basket and replenish their towels.

Add snacks and the forgotten essentials.

I like to add a welcome basket in their room with some snacks and the forgotten essentials.  Since TSA rules change with the seasons it's nice to add shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and so on to a little basket.

If they need it they use it and they don't have to worry about running to a store to purchase a razor or toothbrush that they'll just be throwing away after a few days anyway.

To get the entire list of what I add to my guests' basket download the free checklist (it's included in the checklist!!) 

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Adding this little touches make your guests feel welcome and at home.

It may take a few extra minutes but the reward is well worth it.

Don't forget, I've put together a checklist for you.  Inside this checklist, I've added the list of supplies I add to my guest's welcome basket so you can put one together yourself.  All you have to do is click the button below to download the checklist.

I want to thank you so much for stopping by.  In the comments below I'd love to hear what things you do to prepare your home for out of town guests?  

Below I've added a few other posts that I thought you'd find useful.  Again, thank you so much for stopping by.  Have an amazing day and holiday season!

Jenn

How to Organized You & Your Time This Christmas

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Every year do you say, “This is the year I’m going to be organized this Christmas!”  Then by December 15th, you are 10 days away from Christmas and you haven’t done a thing?

So often I found myself in the same boat until I followed 6 simple step that I’m going to share with you today.  These steps are very simple to take and you can do all of these in an afternoon.  I’ve also put together a pretty great bonus that will help you enjoy an organized Christmas this year and beyond.

1) Set your to-do list timeline

What your to-do list timeline is, is a set of tasks that need to be completed on specific days in order for you to have everything done before Christmas.  

Instead of writing out a 72-mile to do list, you are writing out tasks that need to be completed plus adding a due date to them so you know, from the start, exactly what needs to be done when.

For example, if you are having family over on Christmas day you know you’ll need to clean the house, cook the food, and wrap presents.  Well instead of writing all of that out, like that, you can put on Monday I’ll scrub the toilets, organize the family room, and prepare the cranberry sauce.  You will repeat this process until you have your entire timeline planned out.

The sooner you do this, the fewer tasks you’ll need to complete per day (just something to keep in mind).

2) Set your budget

This is so important and one of the first things that need to be completed.  Sit down and figure out bottom line the dollar amount you can afford.  If you are tight on money this is not an amount you want to spend this is an amount you can afford.

Look at when money is coming in and track every penny you spend.  The $1, $3, and $5 purchases really add up quickly so make sure you are tracking every penny.

3) Create your gift list

Now that your timeline and budget is set it’s time to sit down and figure out your gift list.  Who is on your gift list, what is the bottom line dollar amount you can spend on gifts?  These are things you need to plan out before you can get to this step so please make sure you don’t skip those steps.

If your budget is quite tight, call up friends and family that you normally exchange gift with and see if something can be changed like drawing names or not exchanging gifts at all.  You might not be the only one on a tight budget.

4) Collect addresses

Do you mail out holiday cards each year?  Do you have friends and family out of town that you exchange gifts with?  This is an important step to being organized.

If you have an address list, make sure it is up to date.  People move and we can forget to update their addresses

In the bonus that I introduced a little earlier, there is a worksheet that will help you with that.

5) Create your Christmas menu

This is a very important step.  All families are different when it comes to which meal is most important.  Growing up, our family was really into Christmas breakfast. After we all opened up our gifts mom was in the kitchen cooking away.  We ate so much breakfast that when dinner came around we were nibbling on veggies and cookies (I know not traditional but it worked for us).

The trick to the menu is to make sure it is as detailed as possible.  If you are serving appetizers, the main course, and dessert make sure everything is listed.  This will help you out later on when it’s time to do the shopping.

6) Create a detailed shopping list

This is one of the most important steps to take so you down get too overwhelmed with all of the shopping that needs to be done.  With the gift shopping, food shopping, and everything else items sometimes fall through the cracks.

I really don’t like shopping more than I have to, especially during the holiday season.  Stores are crowded, traffic is horrible, and there are a million things that need to be completed.

When you are creating your shopping list, make sure you are checking the pantry, fridge, and freezer for anything that you might be missing.

Make sure your gift list is complete and check to see if you need tape, wrapping paper, or gift tags.  You don’t want to find yourself running out of tape Christmas Eve night when you are doing the last minute wrapping.

How to make this happen

Now that I’ve shared the 6 simple steps you can take, it’s time to put this into action.  I’ve created a workbook with a worksheet to help you through this entire process.  

Inside the Enjoying An Organized Christmas, you’ll find a checklist with these 6 steps plus worksheet for each step so you can create your timeline, set your budget, create your gift list, collect and update addresses, create your Christmas menu, and most importantly create a detailed shopping list so you don’t find yourself running out of things at the worst time.

This workbook is completely free and ready for you to download.

I want to thank you so much for reading this, and I hope that you can enjoy an organized Christmas this year!

Below I've added a few other posts that I think you might enjoy.

Have an amazing day!!

~Jenn

How to Cure The Winter Break Boredom of Your Kids

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Winter break is coming and for some of us, that means hours of unstructured time.  I believe there are lots of advantages to unstructured time, but my kids require parameters.

If your kids are like mine, I have to put limits on their free time in the house.  The kids can typically find something to do that doesn't require a screen when they are hanging out with the neighborhood kids, but in our own home it draws them in like flies to the bug zapper.

Two of my kids are sensitive to screen time and if we start the day with screens or rely on them too heavily the entire day goes down fast.

Screens and Boredom

If I can control screen time early on and have a few activities that will spark their imagination, I usually find them engrossed in their own projects hours later.  For instance, kiddo #3 (10 years old) became obsessed with designing the perfect paper airplane this summer.

That all started with a simple challenge to learn to make a paper airplane and a book.
There is something about screens (at least in our house) the totally takes their motivation and ingenuity away.  That is why we like to watch at the end of a long day - it doesn't take brain power.

The other issue is that the holidays are busy.  There are lots of extra errands and things to do - meal preparation, service projects, traveling, and decorating to name a few.  Finding the time (and patience) to point the kids in the right direction can feel like the last straw.

Ideas to Use for Winter Break

I know you might be in the same boat, so I came up with an activity menu for winter break.  These are ideas that include science, art, reading, and more.  All of these activities are free other than a few supplies and possibly a trip to the library.

The activities range from oil pastel drawing to making Rudolph fly.  I would love to see what you come up.  You can use the hashtag #learninghypothesis on Instagram and I will see what you are up to.

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Kim is writer and owner of The Learning Hypothesis. She is a “retired” professor and K-12 educator that now homeschools her own children. She has a passion for the sciences and wants to help ignite that passion in kids. You can connect with her via FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

How To Set A Holiday Budget You Can Stick To

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Setting a budget can be one of the most overwhelming things there is.  Setting a holiday budget is even worse!  With all of the expectations, we have on us during the holiday season it can be something that you might want to just forget about and then worry about the bills later.

In this post, I’m going to be sharing how to set a holiday budget you can stick to.  It is important to set a budget that is realistic or else you are just going to set yourself up to fail before you even start.

I do know how hard it is to set a budget and that’s why I put together a pretty cool freebie that you can download and use.  My hope is that this freebie will be one less obstacle that is standing in your way so you can get out of Christmas without accumulating debt and not have to worry about eating or paying your electric bill.

I’m going to be sharing the steps I take to set my budget and the categories I use.  This way I’ve found makes it a little less overwhelming and a much easier to stick to.  

So let’s get to it!

How much can you spend?

The first thing I need to know is how much you can spend.  You cannot have a successful budget without this.  

The best way to do this is to take a look at your monthly budget (if you have one) then see if there’s any extra money each month.  If you are living paycheck to paycheck and do not have any extra at the end of the month, then you’ll need to trim some spending.

If you don’t have a monthly budget, take a look at your spending habits for each month.  Do you accumulate money each month?  If not, where can you trim your spending?  Fewer times eating out?

Try to find ways to trim your monthly spending to give yourself a dollar amount on how much you can spend.

Track all spending

Next, you’ll want to track all of your spending, every penny.  You cannot stay on budget if you are not accounting for all of your money.

What I like to do is have a sheet that I write down what I spent, add the category, and how much it was.

This is a simple way to track everything and know exactly where your money is going.

This is key to staying on budget, promise.

Create a complete gift list

Who do you need to buy gifts for?  Do you have holiday parties that you’re attending?

It is important that this list is complete with everyone you need to buy for.  This includes holiday cards, postage, gifts, gift wrap, tape, etc.  You do not want to leave anything out.  If you do, you run the chance of going over budget.

Once your gift giving list is complete it’s time to figure out who’s getting what.  

What I like to do is have a list of who I’m shopping for and what they’re getting.  The simplest way to do this is to draw a line down a piece of paper and then write the name of the person on one side and then what they’re getting on the other.  If you can, add the price to complete the process.

This will create your gift list which can be an overwhelming task to complete.

Be clear with expectations

Feelings can get hurt, expectations can be overdone.  If you trying to get through the holidays without debt and you want to be smart with the money you are spending then it might be a good idea to sit your family down and let them know that you are working off a budget this year.

Another thing that can blow a budget up is buying gifts for everyone in your family.  Maybe you draw names or only give gifts to the kids.

In our family, the grandparents only shop for the kids.  The adults don’t exchange gifts at all.  We get together for a big meal and enjoy each other's company.

Since we started doing that, it makes the holidays easier and our budget smaller.  Both my husband and I have 2 siblings each and they are all married with kids.  So we ended up spending more on our extended family then we were on our own family.

Then after Christmas is over we end up with WAY too much stuff.  So instead of teaching our kids, that Christmas was all about what they are going to receive we taught our kids the true meaning of Christmas and stopped spending so much on presents.

If this is new for you, sit your kids down and let them know what they can expect from this Christmas, you’ll be surprised by how receptive they’ll be.  

Then talk with your family.  You’ll again be surprised by how receptive they’ll be because chances are, they’re feeling the same way.

Shop sales only!

Seriously everything is on sale this time of the year so the chances you’ll be spending full price for something is quite slim.  

When your list is complete it is time to start shopping all of the sales.  A few places to track sales are:

  • Slick Deals
  • Black Friday Deals

  • Coupons At Checkout (Chrome extension)

And of course, make sure stores price match.  This will help you save time on your shopping if you can find everything at one store that price matches.

Now that you know how to organize your shopping and how to save some money, it’s time to put this budget together.  This can be an overwhelming task and I’m going to walk you through the categories I use that make putting a holiday budget together with a little less overwhelming.

My categories:

  • Food

  • Gifts

  • Parties

  • Decorations

  • Cards

  • Other

The food goes for the “main” meal when I have my family over.  This could be Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, etc. depending on your family.  This also includes cookies and baked goods that we will enjoy.

Gifts are all gifts that are given.  This includes homemade gifts, white elephant gifts, co-worker gifts, and gifts for friends and family.  If someone is receiving a gift from us, it falls into this category.

The party category is our yearly holiday party that we throw each year.  So this includes food, entertainment, etc.  I added this because it was impossible for me to stay on track with Christmas Dinner and our holiday party.

Decorations wear out and need to be replaced.  It never fails that there’s a string of Christmas lights that need to be replaced.  So this is a set dollar amount that I use to replace any decorations that need replacing.

The card category is a little wonky because I add postage to this category.  So included is all of the holiday cards I mail out plus postage for the cards and any gifts that need to be mailed out.  Since I do a lot of holiday shopping on Amazon I don’t need to add too much since I just mail gifts directly to their home (and with Prime, that means free shipping!)

Then there’s an "others" category.  This is anything else that I didn’t think of when I set my budget.  I like to have a little bit of a cushion so I don’t go over.  Sometimes this is “extra funds” for other categories or this is used for travel that we weren't expecting.  Every year the other category is used for different things.

So by putting together a holiday budget from the beginning, it will help you control your spending.  It can be really easy to go overboard when it comes to Christmas and if you aren’t tracking every dime you are spending you can see your budget spiral out of control.

In conclusion...

Those $1, $3, $5, and $10 transactions add up and if you’re not tracking them, your budget will be blown.

Hopefully, the tips that I shared in this post will help you set a holiday budget that you can stick to.  Remember to create a realistic dollar amount that you can afford and talk to your friends and family about everyone’s expectations because they might be in the same boat as you when it comes to spending.

If you’d like an easier way to set your budget you can check out my Holiday Survival Bundle.  Inside the Holiday Survival Bundle, you’ll receive a complete holiday planner that will organize every area of the holidays you’ll also receive video tutorials and 6 homemade holiday workshops.

By setting a budget, becoming organized, and making a few handmade gifts you'll be able to stay on budget and save money this holiday season.

I want to thank you so much for stopping by.  I'd love to know in the comments below, what type of things have you tried in the past to create a budget that you can stick to?  

I've added a few posts that I thought you might enjoy.

Jenn