The Smart Parent's Holiday Survival Guide

These real-mom strategies for shopping, gift-giving, hosting, and time management will help you de-stress your holiday season.

Handle Event Overload Like a Pro

Holiday Burnout

Don't feel obligated to attend every event. Even if you do have the time and energy, there's still the matter of wrangling a babysitter, which can be tricky this time of year. Most moms agree it's best to limit your RSVPs to a handful, if possible. "There are certain parties, like the family gathering we have every Christmas Eve, that I count on no matter what," says Alisa Fitzgerald, a mom of two from Boxford, Massachusetts. "Others take a backseat. Also, I hate to admit this, but I put off RSVPing until close to the deadline, so I can make an informed decision about which events are more important to attend -- or which ones we'd simply enjoy more."

Have an exit strategy. "Setting expectations ahead of time, such as how long you plan to stay at the party, is a good thing," says Ann Glackin, a mom of two from Clifton Park, New York. "My husband and I try to map things out. If it's something like an office or family event, this includes who we need to chat with before leaving. This way, we're both on the same page and one of us doesn't end up tired, bored, or annoyed because the other isn't ready to leave. And if we're planning a quick visit, we'll let the host know. 'We can't stay long, but we didn't want to miss your party!' we say on arrival, and then she doesn't feel offended when we slip out."

Divide and conquer. "Often I will go to a party and take one of our kids, and my husband will stay home, or vice versa," says Bridget Pelosi, a mom of two from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. "It's not ideal -- but it works."

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