Celebrate the season with loved ones near and far
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Nov 07, 2013 | 22684 views | 0 0 comments | 115 115 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(BPT) - The holiday season is a time for celebrating with loved ones, but family and friends aren't always nearby. Although you may not be able to spend the holidays together in-person, there are still plenty of ways to show out-of-town loved ones you care. With a thoughtful approach, you can find easy ways to spread some holiday cheer, whether your nearest and dearest live across the street, across the country or even across the globe.

Create a holiday plan

First, get organized. Make a list of everyone you'd like to celebrate with this season and determine how you'd like to send your holiday wishes - a phone call, a heartfelt card or even a gift. If sending something in the mail, check recommended shipping dates to ensure items arrive in time. While some services can guarantee packages arrive by Christmas if shipped by Dec. 23, it's best to avoid the holiday rush by getting gifts out the door at least a week in advance of the holidays. If you are sending presents to loved ones in the military overseas, you should get items in the mail by Dec. 10 for a Christmas arrival.

Get your gifting in gear

Do your shopping early to give yourself plenty of time to mail items to loved ones and make sure they are easily shippable. Packages that are damageable or perishable may not arrive in the condition you intended if not carefully packaged.

As you prepare to ship, wrap presents with holiday paper, protect them with cushioning material and place them in a sturdy box. Then, seal boxes securely with packaging tape to ensure nothing gets lost. There are even printed options, like EZ Start printed packaging tape from Duck brand, that can make packages stand out and add some festive flair. Available in seasonal prints like Holiday Ornaments and Peppermint, as well as several other designs perfect for personalizing gifts, these packaging tapes meet all postal regulations, and have Frustration Free technology that ensures you never lose the tape end.

From a large family? Having lots of loved ones out of town can make shipping costs skyrocket. To keep everyone's expenses down, organize a gift exchange in which each family member is assigned one person to send a present. This way, all family members receive a gift, without incurring huge holiday bills.

Make every minute count

To make the most of the holiday season, try to get in the spirit early. A good start to holiday cheer is sending seasonal cards to friends and family. Want something unique? Try making your own personalized holiday greetings using a website like Shutterfly.

You can also build up to the big day by sending care packages for friends and family to enjoy throughout the season. Make batches of seasonal cookies or send Advent calendars for little ones. Don't forget about loved ones in the Armed Forces. They may need holiday cheer the most, so send them care packages with a bit of home - favorite cookies, festive music and a card with special messages from family and friends.

See their holiday smiles

Even if you can't be physically near loved ones during the holidays, technology has made it possible to at least see them. Use a free video chatting service like Skype on your computer or smartphone to say 'hi' to friends and family during the holidays or even open gifts together. These technologies are easy to use and allow you to enjoy the smile on family and friends' faces when they open the gifts you've lovingly selected for them.

Of course, the best way to see your loved ones during the holidays is to visit them. If driving, make sure your vehicle has plenty of gas, antifreeze and fresh oil. Air travel is fastest but has its own challenges. Make sure to leave extra time between when you need to arrive and when you depart, in case of travel delays due to inclement weather or overbooked flights. No matter how you travel, make sure to pack some tasty goodies to enjoy along the way.

The holidays are full of hustle and bustle, but with a bit of planning, it's easy to spread cheer to all those you love this season.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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