9 Holiday Mistakes to Avoid to Keep Christmas from Becoming a Dumpster Fire

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How to Have the Hap-Hap-Happiest Christmas

If you want your family to be the jolliest bunch of a-holes this side of the nuthouse, there are some simple ways to make sure that happens. Avoid gifting a subscription to the Jelly of the Month club, make sure you bring a saw to cut down your Christmas tree, and don't forget to turn the breaker on before plugging the Christmas lights in. Okay, so those all came from Clark Griswold's trials and tribulations in the holiday classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but check out the rest of these simple tips to avoid any other mishaps. 

Sad young lady unpacking wrong parcel, delivery mistake

1. Pay Attention to Shipping Times

Not everything is structured the way Amazon Prime is with a two-day shipping expectation, and even Amazon can falter from its norm. Whether the manufacturer has longer shipping speeds or Amazon is bogged down because of the holidays, on the heels of Christmas is not the time to rely on that two-day promise. 

Pay attention to the expected shipping times before you add items to your Amazon cart and re-confirm them during checkout to ensure they will arrive on time. You can also find the shopping cutoff dates for UPS, USPS, and FedEx online to plan your packages responsibly.

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2. Communicate with Co-Gifters

Whether the person you're gifting is a child or adult, this advice rings true: Unless you are the sole person responsible for giving your loved one a present, check in with the other gifters to avoid buying the same thing. In turn, if you give the loved ones in your life a list to refer to for gifting, be transparent about any overlap so they know there is a potential for accidental duplicates.

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3. Mix Up the Handwriting on Gift Tags ... And Mind the Wrapping Paper!

If you want to keep the magic alive for the children in your life, be mindful when wrapping and addressing presents. Fun fact: When I was a kid, I asked my mom why my parents and Santa used the same wrapping paper, and why Santa's handwriting was the same as hers. Try your hand at a curly or cursive font for Santy Clause and designate specific rolls of paper for the gifts that are from the North Pole — just make sure you hide those rolls.

Related: So Long, Mall Santa: Kids Have Virtual Visits With Kris Kringle Now

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4. Go for Discreet Packaging Whenever Possible

I can not tell you how many times I have ordered something from Amazon for one of my 300 children (okay, I only have four, but it feels like hundreds some days) and it came in a box completely revealing what was inside. Just this month, I ordered my toddler one of those excavators for his sandbox and I kid you not: It came in a box with a picture of the digger and now my 7-year-old who saw it has a secret he definitely won't be able to keep.

Recently, I discovered that handy little "Ship in Amazon packaging" box you can check to be more incognito. Nifty, right? It's amazing what you notice on Amazon when you slow down instead of just clicking the godforsaken "Buy Now" button.

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5. Get to the Airport PLENTY Early

If you're taking to the skies to travel elsewhere for the holidays, for the love of everything good and right in the world: Get to the airport early. Way early. However early you think you should get there, get there an hour earlier. 

If you've ever flown during the holiday season, you probably know that the traffic is as robust as canceled flights and sprawling security lines. It's better to sit and wait in your terminal than run through the airport in a psychotic rage like Kevin's mom in "Home Alone" — chances are there will be no John Candy-led Polka band with a van to save the day. 

Related: How AI Can Save You Money on Travel

Every morning with you is like Christmas morning

6. Prep Breakfast Ahead of Time

It's Christmas morning. You just shook off the visions of sugar plums dancing in your head and are ready to get out of bed and embrace all the magic of the day. Your kids are running around yelling, "Santa came!" and it's abundantly apparent that their patience isn't going to withstand breakfast before Santa's bounty. 

So you push the thought of making food to the back of your mind and get lost in a sea of torn wrapping paper and stacks of things you'll have to find a place for. When it's all said and done, the ambition to make breakfast is undoubtedly even more dull than it was when you first woke up. 

Make it easier for everyone involved and embrace Christmas breakfast casserole recipes you can prep the night before. You can sip your coffee, warding off your inner Scrooge, as your breakfast heats up in the oven. Win!

I'm Getting It!

7. Pick the Perfect Present Hiding Spot

This is going to look different for everyone. If you can't find a good spot to hide gifts in your house, consider leaning on a friend, family member, or neighbor that you trust. Nothing spoils gift giving like the giftee finding their present ahead of the holiday.

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8. Abide by Your Budget

Christmas can turn stressful at the drop of a dime ... literally. Drop one dime too many on presents and your bank account will become your top stressor. Plan a budget and do your darndest to stick by it to avoid a stressful holiday season. 

Related: 8 Brilliant Go-To Frugal Holiday Gift Ideas

Santa Claus having a delicious snack

9. Don't Forget the Milk & Cookies!

Bedtime routines are done. The last words of "The Night Before Christmas" have been read. You're just about ready to tuck your kids in and fall into the frenzy of playing Santa when your little ones remind you that you have to leave out milk and cookies for Santa.

Make sure there is milk in the fridge and do your best not to eat every Christmas cookie in the jar so you don't spoil this age-old tradition. Your kids (and the jolly bearded man) may never forgive you.

Related: The Best Christmas Cookies In Every State