It's the most chaotic time of the year — isn't that how the song goes? All kidding aside, we've got strategies to help you nail the season and still have time for a little merry making on the side! Ready, set, ho-ho-ho!

Finish Shopping NOW!

Break out the pen and paper or use your handy List App to make a shopping list. Start with your immediate family then make one for friends and extended family. Don't overdo it. Keep the list simple. Now get started. Quick tips:

  • Shop at "off" times when things aren't so hectic.
  • Shop safely online: Limit yourself to "secure" sites. A secure site starts with "https://" instead of "http://." Secure sites also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen. To avoid data breaches, don't store personal data on lots of sites.

Photos & Cards

It's much too late (probably) for a professional family photo shoot, but don't let that stop you. Set up the tripod and your camera and have your family sit in front of the Christmas tree. One good pic is all you need. Set the timer and hop in yourself. Or, do what most families do, take pics of the kids only. Do this now, though, and get them printed at your favorite one-hour photo lab. That way, you can get them in the mail with your holiday cards. While you're at it, go ahead and update your mailing list. If you have your cards and are just waiting on the pics, go ahead and add your personal message, address the envelopes and put a stamp on them — just don't seal them. That way, all you have to do is insert the photo and off they go!

Wrap 'Em & Hide 'Em!

What are you going to do with all those gifts now? Plan a day for your children to hang out with friends or family — this is great for families because you can switch it out and watch each others' kids — and wrap all those gifts while they're gone. Be sure you've purchased two different kinds of wrapping paper for your gifts and Santa's (if you plan on wrapping the Santa gifts because some opt not to and just put them out on Christmas Eve in plain sight). But ... now what to do with the wrapped gifts? Some good hiding spots include the shower in the extra bathroom, attic, your underwear drawer, a relative or friend's house, and in the garage in totes marked as something they'd never touch. However, kids are keen to knowing where your usual hiding spots are, so avoid places like under the bed or in your closet, in the trunk of your car or even in the shed.

Mail Those Packages!

Herewith: The absolute last days to get your packages shipped:

USPS

Friday, Dec. 14: USPS Retail Ground Thursday, Dec. 20: First-Class Mail Thursday, Dec. 20: Priority Mail Saturday, Dec. 22: Priority Mail Express

FedEx

Monday, Dec. 10: FedEx SmartPost Monday, Dec. 17: FedEx Ground & Home Delivery Wednesday, Dec. 19: FedEx Express Saver Thursday, Dec. 20: FedEx 2Day A.M., FedEx 2Day Friday, Dec. 21: FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight and FedEx Priority Overnight Tuesday, Dec. 25: FedEx SameDay City (standard), FedEx SameDay City (priority) and FedEx SameDay

UPS

Thursday, Dec. 20: UPS 2nd Day Air Friday, Dec. 21: UPS Next Day Air