Let yourself off the hook this season by skipping these tasks.
When we were little, my brother and I stuffed stockings for our parents, while my mom filled ours. He and I realized at some point that even though opening up the stockings in our parents’ bed had become a bit too weird, we would never be ready to give them up. Now our families open the stockings over breakfast on Christmas Day; any houseguest gets one, too. We also still allow ourselves, on Christmas Eve, to open one present that we know will be disappointing. We got this down to a fine art as kids: My best December 24 score was a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle of baked beans.
— Francesca Hornak is the author of Seven Days of Us. She lives in London.
Getting Dolled Up
My day job requires me to be glammed up: We Rockettes do as many as 17 Christmas Spectacular shows a week during the holiday season, which means I get to spend much of my time wearing incredible costumes adorned with sequins and crystals, as well as stage makeup, including false eyelashes and bright red lipstick. For me, gatherings with family and friends are about quality time with loved ones, not stressing over my look. So my go-to offstage outfit is one that’s much more low-key and works anywhere: a black sweater dress with tights and boots. For makeup, I wear just a tinted moisturizer, mascara, and a light lip color. It’s simple and comfortable and always looks polished.
— Courtney Rottenberger is a Radio City Rockette. She lives in New York City.
Cleaning Every Corner
One reason people don’t have parties is that they feel they have to clean their entire house, ceiling to floor. Don’t do that. The only thing you definitely have to clean is the bathroom: It’s where everyone is going to spend a little time alone and where lights can illuminate everything that’s dirty. So wipe the stubble off the sink; hide the medications if you want. But leave the kitchen alone. It’s the hub of activity, where we expect to spill something. No matter what, as the party goes on, you’ll have a tower of dishes in the sink, and no matter how many plastic cups you use, every glass you have will be spread out across the room.
— Rico Gagliano is cohost of the Dinner Party Download podcast and coauthor of Brunch Is Hell.
It’s super fun to get wrapped up in the marketing and excitement of holiday gift giving. But when you attach real money to it—especially if it’s money you haven’t yet earned—it becomes all about guilt. Before you start shopping, determine the total amount you’ll spend and make sure to include a little extra for those surprise gifts you might feel obliged to reciprocate. Then make a list of recipients, in order of importance—kids, spouse, whoever—and attach a dollar amount to each. If you feel bad in the moment about not giving your dentist or mail carrier a gift, look at your list: Your priorities will be crystal clear.
— Jesse Mecham is Founder and CEO of You Need a Budget. He lives in Lehi, Utah.
The season is full of parties, but it can sometimes be a little much, especially if, like me, you need serious downtime to recharge. So I make the rule to always attend family events and play everything else by ear. I firmly believe that “no” is a complete sentence and that the people who really care about me will understand that I’m not always able to do absolutely everything. I’m not a complete Scrooge: If I turn down an invitation, I’ll suggest meeting up with the person later, when things are less hectic and we can have a proper catch-up. And then I can indulge in a book and a night in!
— Amber McNaught is a fashion blogger and the author of Closet Essentials. She lives in central Scotland.