It’s almost that time of year. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is fast approaching. It is almost time to start planning, getting your lists organized and ready for execution.
For me the holidays are a very important time of the year. It provides us, as parents of two boys under the age of five, the opportunity to create family traditions our way and provide our boys to have a hand in making it unique and ours.
And it all starts with organizing the occasion from beginning to end. I, for one, cannot function without having some kind of order and or idea of what is going on from beginning to end. And what has worked for me over the years is having a well-oiled machine (of sorts) at my disposal to do all the heavy lifting to make our holiday festivities as simple, stress-free and fun as possible.
I take great pride in being a geek and taking advantage of all the tools that are in my arsenal to make the magic happen. I begin organizing myself for the holidays right after Halloween (this has to do with the fact that I was a retail manager many moons ago and planned for the holidays months in advance).
The secret to my holiday effectiveness is called OneNote. For the second year, OneNote will be at the helm at Casa de Nuez this holiday. This tool single-handedly helped my husband and I plan our holidays, prepare to welcome baby No. 2, and a birthday for my oldest.
This year, there will be fewer balls in the air, but I will still be preparing my lists and shouting orders all from a nifty little surface tablet. It’s equipped with the tools I need, has a great battery life and a quiet keyboard that allows me to type and think without hearing that click-clacking sound during the wee hours of the night
So with that, check out how I become the master of time management during the holidays.
Have a Command Center 1 of 7
Whether you decide to use a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone I make sure to have a place in which everything I need is easily accessible. This holiday I will be using both, Microsoft's Surface tablet and Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone, to handle my holiday needs. Meal plans, budgets, shopping lists, and snippets of holiday crafts to do with my oldest will all be right at my fingertips with this super lightweight devices.
Always Make a Note of It 2 of 7
OneNote is an amazing, very powerful digital notebook. It keeps everything I need in one place and allows me to share with my husband so we are both on the same page. I create notebooks to keep track of the family's holiday budget, holiday gift list, holiday meal list, places throughout New York City to take the boys and holiday decorations that tickle my fancy.
This is a current image of my Nuez Holiday 2013 notebook. The different tabs help me keep everything in its place and the snapshot feature allows me to take images and super cute decorations I find.
With OneNote, my husband and I share also and update notes regularly. He has his iPhone app, I have both the Surface tablet and Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. It is perfect match. Gone are the days of not writing things down and not knowing what the other is doing.
Last year we hit a few bumps (learning curve), but were able to come out of it unscathed and are using it again.
Capture Memorable Moments 3 of 7
My name is Jessie, and I take a lot of pictures of my boys with my smartphone.
Using my smartphone to double as a camera (especially one with 41 megapixels) when you have kids who are always up to something allows for some amazing picture-taking for the holidays. It also allows for the amplification of any mess in the background (case in point). Taking pictures of my boys means recreating great memories for them and us.
And for me (call me a biased New Yorker), there no better place to capture great images than in New York City during the holidays. From the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, the holiday markets, to walking down the streets looking at the holiday-themed windows. These moments will be captured and cherished for a lifetime.
Keep in Contact 4 of 7
Skype keeps us in touch with those closest to us who are separated by distance. And the holidays are that time where distance should not interfere with what truly matters. Both my husband and I want to foster the true meaning of family and friendship to our boys. We both have families in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and feel it is essential to keep our culture alive in our boys and have them learn more about who they are.
Keep Them Entertained 5 of 7
You don't have to be a gamer to enjoy Xbox. It is loaded with tons of entertainment that will keep your little ones and spouse out of your hair while you work away at providing your loved ones with an amazing holiday.
I personally love it because of the variety of kid friendly games it offers, as well as the amount of entertainment accessible via the console for the entire family. As a family we have created a tradition of either family game night or family movie night. We sit, popcorn in hand, and play or watch a movie of our son's choosing. I think to-date, we have both mastered the Hulk's roar and watched every single episode of Scooby Doo (both old and new) several times over.
This year I am very excited to introduce this guy to A Christmas Story!
Keeping It All Safe 6 of 7
I keep my all of my holiday planning in the cloud at all times. I make sure that I can access what I need, when I need without interruptions. SkyDrive allows me to sync across all my devices without a hitch.
I have been brought to tears several times from having my computer crash and losing everything. And although I am still in the habit of typing like crazy, not saving, and having 17 tabs open, I have learned from my mistakes and am definitely more cloud-conscious than before. Saving what's important to you in a secure location prevents headaches down the road (I can definitely attest to that).
image source: SkyDrive.com
Just enjoy 7 of 7
My oldest, who will be 5 next month, is getting how important it is for him to tell Santa he's been a "good boy" and what he wants for Christmas. He is very creative, loves creating cards and is very excited to write his first official letter to Santa with his very own holiday stationery. I, for one, will take advantage and create my own mailing labels, holiday gift tags and even stationery to have the kids write letters to Santa.
He had his priorities in order as he grabbed the holiday book and he diligently circles away to make sure 'Santa' doesn't confuse his presents for that of his baby brother and to make sure he gets everything he asks for.