Panic Now and Avoid the Holiday Rush

Hope this finds you safe and dry, post-Sandy. When I spotted poinsettias on sale before Halloween (!!), I knew the holiday onslaught was fast approaching . Thankfully, technology can take a lot of the tedium out of those dreaded, can't-I-procrastinate-this-year seasonal chores.

Holiday cards If you send photo cards, order as far ahead as possible; websites like Shutterfly and TinyPrints are inundated with orders at the end of the year, so they offer deals to early birds. (Shipping cards is remarkably expensive, so look for free shipping). Check their websites for deals or try coupon sites like Retailmenot and Coupon Cabin.

Before you upload a photo, use a simple photo management program like iPhoto (Mac only, tutorials here) or Google's free Picasa (Mac or Windows) on your computer to magnify it and check for red eye, spinach in the teeth, and so on. The resolution of a printed card is a lot higher than your screen, so flaws are more visible on paper. (Sadly, there's no program we know of that will cause teenagers to pose willingly for a family photo).

Mailing cards or invitations? You can easily look up zip codes or mailing rates online, even have holiday stamps delivered to your door.
Hand written envelopes are charming, but envelopes with printed addresses arrive faster because they are machine-scanned by the post office.  
Turning your address book into printed envelopes or labels is much easier than you think--and if you're stuck, we can help by email or remote support (faster, cheaper and more flexible than a regular appointment). Email or call us for details.
Tipping is SO much easier with our handy tip calculator spreadsheet--just fill in the names and amounts, and it will automatically calculate totals and how many bills of each denomination you will need. When you're done, save a copy on your computer so you have a record for next year.

Cooking for the Holidays Find great recipes, cooking videos, decorating ideas, and even stain removal advice on these enticing websites:

Epicurious, Food Network, Food and Wine, Martha Stewart, Real Simple,
or the super-thorough (but not free) Cook's Illustrated.
When you find an appealing recipe, spare your electronics by printing it it out in a nice big font and sticking it up at eye level in your kitchen. (Sometimes paper really is better).

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!