Limit and prioritize your activities.
One way to minimize the busy-ness of Christmas is to talk with family members about the one activity that is the most important to each of them. If they could each only choose one holiday activity what would it be? When planning out your December schedule, prioritize each person’s most important activity. You might choose to add in other activities, but they will be secondary.
Give of yourself instead of spending money on gifts.
Think creatively about how you can give thoughtful gifts through service without spending a lot of money. One of our favorites is to offer to scan old family photos (the ones gathering dust in your parents’ garage) and put them on a CD or USB drive for family members. What a treasure!
Do you remember making coupons for your mom for mother’s day that she could redeem for a hug, breakfast in bed, or a chore of her choice? You can still give those as grown-ups too! The important part is to make sure that you follow through. Don’t wait for the recipient to ask you. Keep reminding them.
Resist the social pressure to give gifts that are outside of your budget.
Don’t compare what you are giving to what someone else gives you. This is easier to say then do, as we naturally tend to compare ourselves to others. Remember the purpose of a gift is not to impress or to get praise. The purpose of a gift is to show love. Your gift does not need to be expensive or match any monetary standard to show love.
Give fewer gifts to your children.
Children can be easily overwhelmed by the hubbub of receiving. In fact, sometimes we do our children a real disservice by over-giving. We like the advice, “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.” We stick to that pretty well, though we usually give some family gifts as well, like a game or a special experience. Giving is fun and it’s easy to want to shower our children with gifts, but too much of a good thing stops being good.
Trim down your giving list.
Some years it is fun to include the postman, the plumber, and every teacher your kids have ever had when you’re giving treat plates or “neighbor gifts.” Other years you just need to simplify and be more selective.
Give where it matters.
Instead of spending the $200 you usually spend on making goody plates for co-workers, friends, and neighbors, take that money and donate it straight to the food bank. What a wonderful idea! Not only are you saving yourself all the stress of making and delivering treats (and let’s be honest, no one really needs more treats during the holidays), but you’re giving in a way that makes a bigger difference.
If you’re hosting, make it a potluck!
Many hands make light work. In many families this is standard, but often the burden of the entire elaborate meal is left on one person’s shoulders. Don’t hesitate to ask others to contribute to the meal.