1. I put up my Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. Since the kids are out of school and the hubby's off work, it's a great time to deck the halls and put up the tree (yes, it's artificial - and I'm okay with that). That way this part of the season is completed early and we can enjoy it longer.
2. I try to purchase gifts (with some exceptions) in the order they're needed. If my husband's family's party isn't until after Christmas, then I don't need to stress about those gifts right now.
3. We have several holiday activities that have become tradition for our family. But some of these, like going to see Christmas lights, can actually be done early on in the month to free up time later for other fun things.
4. I don't mail out Christmas cards - I know, shame on me. Instead I digitally scrapbook a card with our pictures and e-mail it to those on our list.
5. Since it's sometimes hard to feel the holiday spirit during all the prep, I try to make time for things that sweeten the season for me, like watching holiday movies, playing Christmas music on the piano, and finding ways to reach outside myself.
What things do you do to simplify the busyness of the season? What holiday traditions do you and your family have? What is one of your favorite things about this time of year?