Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Destressing Christmas, Part 3 - Think through gifts

Make a master list of gifts you need to buy or make along with a budget for the amount you want to spend. Stick to your budget and don't buy impulsively. Don't compete with family and friends - spend what you can afford.

Remember those gifts for teachers, Sunday School teachers, extra-curricular instructors, and stocking stuffers.

Buy the same gift for several people on your list, if appropriate. Take advantage of the sales after Christmas to shop for next year's list.

Plan your shopping trips. What stores might have most of your gifts? What is the most efficient route to the stores on your list? A little planning avoids backtracking, saving you time and gas.

Set a deadline for finishing your shopping to avoid crowds, the last-minute rush, and poor selection.

Consider gift certificates that can be sent to the recipients via email. Or shop online and have your purchases sent directly to the recipients.

Or, if you're into making your own Christmas gifts, mass produce a gift and give it to as many people on your list as possible. To reduce stress, choose a gift that doesn't have to made at the last minute.

As you buy or make gifts, wrap them so you don't have a massive pile to do at one time. Use TV time or other mindless time to wrap - you're doubling your time use.

Have a conversation with your children (if applicable) about realistic expectations so they won't be disappointed. They will be bombarded with commercial after commercial during the holiday season, and they may want it all!

Make gift suggestions to relatives who are shopping for your children (if applicable).

If you want to get away from expensive or excessive gifts, consider alternative ideas:

- Trade services: babysitting, cleaning, meal preparing, handyman work, etc.

- Instead of exchanging gifts, experience an event together - a day trip, cutting your own Christmas tree, a service project, etc.

- Take the money you would have spent on gifts for each other and donate it to a cause or your favoriate charity or a needy family.

- Consider giving a donation in their name to a charity of their choice. My parents live in Oklahoma and year of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, they asked us to donate to The Salvation Army in their names rather than give them gifts. Salvation Army was so instrumental in helping in the aftermath, they wanted to say thanks.

- Consider drawing names or doing a "nice" white elephant game with a dollar limit on the gift.

- Give gift certificates of your time or service.

Destressing Christmas, Part 2 - Think through your family/friendship needs and commitments


Be realistic about what your children (if applicable) will enjoy, understand, and be capable of doing in light of their ages. For example, if you always went to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time, but your children are 3 and 5, wait until they (and you!) will enjoy it more. And don't over-schedule.

Consider family problems when planning gatherings. Be proactive in order to minimize Uncle John's drinking problem by having a brunch rather than a dinner. If cousin Sally's conversation is predominantly negative or a never-ending flow, plan some conversation starters or games to reduce her dominance.

If it's just too difficult for you to travel during the holidays, don't let others guilt-trip you into travelling anyway. Be honest and stick to your guns for the benefit of you and/or your family. Invite your relatives to visit you (if that is better for you) or suggest another time of year for a visit when life is less hectic.

If getting together with your relatives is too painful or unhealthy, give yourself permission not to attend. If you, your spouse, or your children are subjected to verbal, emotional or physcial abuse, don't put yourself in this unsafe place. Even if it hurts others' feelings, you cannot allow yourself to condone unhealthy or painful treatment by attending.

Choose whom you want to spend time with over the holidays - friends or family who refresh, encourage, and cheer you. Take the initiative to make that happen.