Enjoying the Season!
Can you feel it in the air? As the holidays approach, what should be excitement is mixed with panic, acts of kindness are intermingled with selfishness, and there’s feigned happiness covering fear! All the expectations, all the pressures! Christmas is coming. It should be perfect! But in the back of our mind is January. January? Yes, January! With its slow trickle of bills arriving, coincidentally at the same time as snow, ice, and cold, followed by mood drops. And this happens every year. Why? People anticipating the holidays will spend whether they have the money or not! We’ve no choice, right? We’ll deal with it later. So then the holidays are barely passed and the panic takes over. Can’t there be another way to do this year after year? The answer is yes. I want to share a few ideas that can help take some of the weight off of the holidays.
Now I know that we could jump right into these ideas but with a gradual start, the holidays can be a lot less stressful! First, can we take note that Christmas happens every year on the same date. And I know that some of you just got wired at my stating the obvious. Hang on now. What I’m suggesting is that we plan for it. Here’s an idea that I’ve been doing for years now and it’s so appreciated! Santa’s Choice (now Chrisco Canada). Huh? Chrisco Canada sell food packages (frozen, pantry, snacks, meat, etc.) that are paid for ~wait for it!! ~weekly, and ahead of time! A small amount weekly provides a great Christmas gift in late November or early December. Both my daughters have growing familes and they anticipate their Merry Little Christmas Hampers. It allows them to focus on the increased cost of the holidays without worrying about their Christmas groceries. Their hampers include everything from turkey, ham, and beef, to veggies, to snacks, to cereals, to desserts, to gravy, to candy, and so much more~ everything they will need to provide for their Christmas eatings and then some! I’d estimate a good week+ of food. Chrisco Canada has many different hamper choices so you can choose what best fits those you want to gift. My husband and I provided for his aging parents at one point as well and it lasted them forever! By November, Christmas shopping is technically done for the grownups and we focus on our grandkids! Chrisco Canada has a system in place where we can continue our tiny payments during the off time and further reduce the weekly amount. We prefer to keep the payments looping in this way for a stress-free experience! (I’m not getting anything from them for saying this; I simply appreciate them!)
Here are a few more ideas. I’ll group them where they run in the same direction. Gift shopping for kids!! Again, I’ll start with having a plan. Often we run off and buy only to find something even better and we obviously need to be fair so we increase the limits, and again, until we have overdone it. Not speaking from experience of course. Ok, yeah I am. I’m not sure how 4 little boys can throw my good spending habits so out of whack! LOL
So here are a few ideas to hold things together. First, a 4 gift focus ~One I want; One I need; One to wear; One to read. My daughter introduced me to this when her little ones were younger. She wanted to keep focused on the Reason for the Season, be reasonable in her spending, plus use this as a teaching opportunity for her boys. What a super idea! This same daughter (maybe both) also did a book advent countdown one year, gathering gently used books as well as new ones, for her little book lovers. She wrapped each book and stacked them in a (sorta) tree shape ~various green papers and a gold star special one for Christmas Eve. This could be placed under the edge of the tree, with nightly readings pre-Christmas snuggled in the glow of the tree.
Another idea is that of the Gift Snowman. This one would be aimed at older kids and up! Again, it’s about a 4 gifts display ~a small, medium, and large box, and a gift card to the child’s favorite store in an envelope. Each box is wrapped in white paper and these are stacked as a snowman. Add cutouts ~charcoal eyes, mouth, and buttons, a carrot nose, a black top hat, and a red scarf. Cut out white arms from cardstock or bristolboard with red mitts added on the ends; these mitts will hold the gift card envelope in front of the snowman. To add a bit of fun, add a REAL scarf and mitts in the child’s favorite colours. A bit of creativity and VOILA!
Finally, something that my daughters and I do. We talk and exchange ideas regarding the boys. As my grandsons are getting a bit bigger and really developing in distinctiveness, I ask my girls for each boys’ interest at home and at school. putting together a snapshot of each. With this, Poppa and I are seeking to get the right gift fit for each. I’m a real stickler for fun educational gifts. We want the boys to try new adventures and discover new skills. This year, though each has the same monetary limit, their gifts aren’t similar at all; they’re as unique as the boys. My daughters have been great at sharing their lists’ directions allowing us all to work as a team. This doesn’t mean that we are stuck to the list of gift ideas but rather that we have greater flexibility around interests and personal gifting, while holding special gifts exactly as listed. This falls in line with the concept of gift exchange lists, which we do as well. With a rotational list system, as we’ve done for years, we set a reasonable ballpark maximum amount and buy one gift each ~the one whose name we have that year. Again, this system allows for young growing families to not over-strain the family budget. The holidays don’t have to be crazy. By having systems in place for gifts, we have the luxury of planning more food and fun-focused activities together. I encourage you to strive to replace stress with peace and joy this season. This matters!!
Merry Christmas, everyone!!