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Perfecting The Collaborative Holiday!

This year in my family, we are taking advantage of technology for all of our holiday preparations, and for some good reasons.

  • I have a pretty busy schedule in my own time.
  • I have four adult children spread across 3 states.
  • We’ll be preparing and executing a glorious holiday for 15 people (well, two holidays if you count Thanksgiving madness).
  • And, did I mention both of my daughters have brand new babies? (Interesting side note: both girls had the same due date — what are the odds??)

PLANNING

In order to create order and efficiency in our holiday preparations, we looked for real-time, collaborative tools to make our lists and suggestions and comments.  We settled on using a super-easy Google Document, with each of us applying a different font color for our contributions.

For Christmas, this is great for sharing wish-lists, schedules, or menus.  Our shared doc became like your typical rowdy, family conversation, and there are many parts that can’t be shown (you’ll just have to trust me when I say they’re hilarious). But I can show you this one from Thanksgiving:

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.03.05 AMNote:  Yes, we do have our own language.  “Da boid” is “the bird,” “PDub” is Pioneer Woman (“OMG, I LOVE YOU REE!!!” Sincerely, Fangirl Susie), “Maypos” is our term for mashed potatoes, and “muffin hat guys” are particular types of rolls our family loves (I have no idea what they’re actually called).  I’m sure your own family has many colloquialisms like this — we keep saying we need a family dictionary.

TOOLS ON THE GO

Yesterday was the big “family meal” shopping excursion.  Our thought was to “beat the crowds” by shopping before school let out, and not on a weekend (truly, there is no way to beat the crowds).  We wished that we had printed out the shopping list in advance and sorted it into categories. Alas, we did not.

Luckily, we had our iPhones!  With our collaborative Google Doc open, we used the little “check mark” emoji as we ticked items off the list.  Meanwhile, my daughter who was still home in Kansas, followed along, watching things being checked.  She sent helpful reminders via text message.

Facetime and Skype have been fantastic additions to our holiday feasts when certain family members are unable to attend.  My oldest was traveling over Thanksgiving with his volleyball team, but that didn’t stop us from looping him into the big day on the iPad.

CAPTURING MOMENTS

Take lots of pictures of everything – from prep to the big day!  Post your pictures on social media (particular fan favorites: Instagram and Facebook). I love looking at glimpses of people’s real lives, doesn’t everyone love that?

Susie's Big TurkeysPersonal tip for memorable images: take an embarrassing photo near the turkeys in the grocery store and post to Facebook so your son-in-love might comment like mine did:

“Someday. That has to make the funeral slideshow. Someday.”

It’s good to know they’re planning in advance for my demise…. By the way, I think the butcher recognized us from last year (he’s on to us!).

Make fun holiday cards to help amp up the spirit of the season with funny, endearing e-cards at JibJab (how do they one-up themselves every year?)!  Or, use sites like the Picaboo (which is AMAZING by the way) to create photo albums, books, or embarrassing family t-shirts.

Additional Tricks of the Trade

  • Have a family: by birth or unique friend-circle creation/alteration. This doesn’t take too much technology, but if you need some, I recommend eharmony. That’s where my oldest son and newest daughter-in-love met.

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  • Plan your menu by combining “old family favorites” and new things you find online. Did I mention my adoration and devotion to The Pioneer Woman? I recommend everything she writes, says, and cooks, in no particular order.  Another obvious source is Pinterest.  Man oh man, Pinteresters know how to cook! (Or at least they know how to post pictures of food…)  Epicurious has some cool tools to help you plan your whole meal, according to your number of guests, cooking experience, and other factors.
  • Keep some sort of online record (like your Google spreadsheet or document) of what you make each year, how you did it, what you used, what was a hit, and what was a failure.

But when the day comes, and it’s time to enjoy your gathering company, put away the techie tools and be thankful that you’re with people you love (or at least can tolerate).

What are your favorite tips, recipes, sites, tech tools, and traditions this holiday season? Leave them in the comment section below, as we’d love to catch up with you.  And if you’d like to share in some of our personal holiday splendor, make sure to check out our company’s Instagram page, where we’ve been posting photos from our mods.

Everyone here at Metaverse Mod Squad wishes you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Super Festivus, and Fantastic Kwanza!  We are so grateful for you!  And may 2015 bring joy and prosperity to you and yours!!

Susie South
Chief Moderator

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