Planning Ahead For The Holidays: New Apps And Plenty Of Suggestions

It’s h-e-r-e!  Time to start spending your hard-earned money on gifts for people you love, people you like, and even people you sometimes wave hello to.

It’s also time to begin planning menus, creating to-do lists and figuring out how much wrapping paper to buy.

I’ve always felt overwhelmed before the holiday season even begins. Having MS, energy is always in short supply, and even after I was first diagnosed I continued to host large dinner parties for family and friends because I liked to.  But the next day I always paid a heavy price.

The amount of work each party entailed was enormous.

My family also celebrates three birthdays in the month of December.  And if that isn’t enough, we also celebrate Hanukah in December, preparing a traditional meal that includes homemade potato latkes.

Cleaning, decorating, shopping, running, wrapping – doesn’t the mere thought of this tire you out?

So I got wise and decided to be a bit smarter about taking care of my MS during the holiday season. 

I want to share with you some of the ways I try to prepare for the holidays by planning ahead.  I hope my list will provide you with new ideas on managing your MS so you can better enjoy your holidays.

I’ve also included some new ideas to help us both through the holidays.  This is information I’ve read about that I haven’t had a chance to try out myself.  Let’s find out whether whether we like them or not!

  • Conserve your energy.  Make a to do list of what you need to do.  (See Sheryl Kraft’s article on using the “old-fashioned” method of writing everything down.  This is the method I most rely on.  It will help you plan ahead and avoid becoming overwhelmed, allowing you to enjoy your holidays.)
  • Use a calendar. If you’re like me, you still write everything down on a wall calendar.  But today, I’ve learned to also cross reference my calendar using Google Calendar, which syncs my events and lists to my cell phone, setting an alarm to go off as a weekly, daily or hourly reminder of what I need to do.
  • I’ve read about other useful apps such as Wunderlist, Clear, Trello and Shizu, the virtual assistant that takes advantage of the fact that your Smartphone always knows where you are.  Shizu is $0.99; the others are free.
  • Reach out and ask others for help. Perhaps you can co-host a dinner; one person provides the venue along with tableware, the other provides the meal.  Another suggestion is having a potluck dinner, and all attendees must bring an appetizer, entrée or dessert.
  • If you are stuck for recipesthat are on the simpler side, many websites, such as, and Epicurious offer many recipes with fewer ingredients or easier preparations.
  • Don’t be shy to ask for help.  Close friends and family sometimes feel helpless knowing what you need or how they can help.  Ask them to help with grocery shopping, or perhaps they could pick up a gift or two while they are doing their own holiday shopping.  Ask to go shopping with them, and they can save you some steps by dropping you off at the store while they park the car.
  • Speaking of gifts, the easiest gifts to give to those near and far are Gift cards.  If you know the store someone prefers, you can order them online directly from the store’s website, and they can be either mailed or emailed.  Most times, I prefer ordering from Amazon or iTunes in whatever dollar amount I prefer.  That way, the person who receives the gift has a wider variety of ways to spend it.  (Be aware that if you purchase Gift cards in a store, you usually have to pay an activation fee for each card.)

Planning ahead, making use of technology and asking for help will all go a long toward making your holidays as special and wonderful as you deserve.

Happy and Healthy Holidays from The Chester Home to yours!

Do you have any tips to share about what you do to help you get through the holidays?

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