I'm looking for your best advice for having a stress free holiday. It can be cooking, party planning, traveling, or gift giving. This information is for a magazine article and I will quote you. Thanks.
By easylikesunday from Philadelphia
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Buy all your gifts throughout the entire year, promising yourself that you will be done by Halloween.
Wrap everything between Halloween and Thanksgiving, then you can watch the holiday shopping craziness instead of participating in it.
Keep a notebook of who/what you purchased presents for. Keep a sheet of paper in your wallet with all the gift recipients names and notes on what you purchased already. refer to the note while you are in the store in case you see a good sale on something.
Also, plan out your menu, and get all the non-perishables throughout the year.
Shop online in the comfort of your home. always look for Free Shipping.
Shop the deep discount sales, Bath & Body works has up to 75% off (sometimes up to 90% off) towards the end of their Semi-Annual sale (mid June, and again in Mid January).
Delegate. Have the kids put up the tree and help wrap.
Buy wrapping paper at the after Christmas sales and keep on hand to start working on the coming year gift giving and gift wrapping.
Buy gift cards in advance, for instance I Knew I wanted a Honey Baked Ham last year, so I bought the gift card in August (when I had money), so that i wouldn't be too broke in December to afford it.
One gift per person only, including kids. Give a cheap wallet with $5.00 cash inside. No one has to know that the wallet was from the dollar store.
Print out your holiday recipes ahead of time and keep in a notebook.
Consider starting a new tradition, that instead of buying everyone a gift, that you will each draw a name out of a hat, and you will only buy one nice gift for that one person. Agree on a spending limit on that one gift ($25 or $30 should be the ceiling); that way you only have to purchase one item, vs. 20.
Good gift ideas:
stamps, frames, basket with diff brands scented soaps, dollar store travel bag with dollar store scented lotion and shower gel, burned CD with holiday favorite songs, 4 or 5 spices from the dollar store accompanied by a dollar store basket or kitchen mitt, dollar store crayons, glue, markers and ruler for kids.
Do not be afraid to suggest drawing names out of a hat for the adults. The best Christmas we had was when the immediate family, there was about 9 of us, drew names and spent 50 dollars on the person we drew. Added to the name was a list of stuff that person liked. Stress free, everyone had an idea of what to get there person. Didnt spend a fortune. And everyone loved what they got because it was what they had asked for. I was just starting out in my own place and needed to outfit my kitchen. I ended up receiving 5 small appliances which I would have had to buy myself because I never would have gotten them for Christmas if not for us doing this. And I for one hate impractical cutesy gifts. I loved getting appliances for Christmas.
Divide and conquer! I have priceless family heirloom recipes in my head,from years of preparing Christmas and Holiday dinners but I hate being in the kitchen. So,I wrap gifts (as a favor for the ones who don 't have the knack for wrapping),in the dining room close by, while I teach my daughters in law and granddaughters the secrets and tricks to the irreplaceable dishes.
I am also good at planning and making lists,but my arthritis makes it hard for me to shop,so I get everyone's money, checks, and lists together,shop the sale papers, and send the young energetic cousins to the mall with their brand new drivers' licenses.That gets them out of my hair,they can giggle and shop and catch up on each others lives, and still have energy when they get back! The menfolk can haul stuff,move furniture around if necessary,and lift turkeys in and out of stoves and such.And believe it or not, unless you want a designer tree,the guys and the little ones will entertain each other with lights and balls and tinsel for hours!
Another thing we do in our family is; everyone kind of lets me know what their particular need or want is, and I let the others know.if lightning ran in on a TV, for instance,I let everyone know, they all chip in,and one of us waits in line on the day after Thanksgiving for the doors to open at Circuit City, or wherever.Voila! Instead of a collection of gifts such as ties and sweaters,a brand new TV! Another thing I do is, I get the sale papers for the After Thanksgiving sales,pore over them,and see what different family members need that may be advertised.then I send OTHER family members to different stores before daylight,and each group "targets" the sale items in the store they are in, before they are snatched up.
To keep prying little eyes and fingers away from their gift before Christmas morning,I just don't put a name on them; I put a number. For instance, my number may be 24,the baby's is 7, etc., then I make a list of whose is whose and tuck it away.No one knows which gift is theirs,and after sneaking into enough national geographic videos,brown sweaters,socket sets,etc., they finally give up long before they reach the new Nintendo that's for them! Then on Christmas morning, I let someone hand out the gifts according to the lists of numbers. There is usually a mix up,though, somewhere along the line, and it is so funny when Grandpa opens up his sexy new nightie(which was supposed to go to the newest bride in the family!) The whole family spends Christmas morning laughing and smiling together. Next year, a new number for everybody.
You see, too may people try to do everything themselves. Share the preparations and the joy.
Last but not least, a heavy supper, an early bedtime, and a breakfast that doesn't have to be cooked,is your best bet when dealing with small children. A whiny, sleepy,cantankerous child can ruin the mood for everyone. Merry Christmas in advance, by the way!
1. Start early... even July or August isn't too early for winter holiday shopping.
2. Spread purchases over several paydays - or even several months - to lessen the impact on the budget.
3. Don't try to do it all: delegate whatever you can. The results might not be the same as if you'd done it, but the helpers will enjoy being included.
4. When you've done all the preparing you can, relax and enjoy the party! That's what especially Thanksgiving and Christmas are about, anyway: being with the ones you love. Only the pickiest will notice if the cupcakes are imperfectly frosted, for example.
Jo Cordell, Springfield, Ohio
I think buying gifts for everyone you know is crazy. when you spread yourself so thin trying to keep everyone just content you leave no one truly happy. least of all yourself. In our family we do not gift for the Christmas holiday. We share each others company, love, stories of the past year, and so on. We celebrate birthdays much bigger than Christmas. That way everyone feels special on their own day.
If you can't give up the gift purchasing then I suggest 'secret Santa' gifts for the extended family and personal gifts for your immediate family (husband/wife, and children). The secret Santa way gives you a chance to really consider what would please the person you are giving the gift to. No one is offended by not receiving a gift from everyone, you'll spend significantly less money (which is always less stressful), you have a chance to really touch the heart of the receiver and it is really a lot of fun trying to keep the secret of who drew whom from the hat! My best wishes.
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