I hope that all my readers who celebrate Christmas enjoyed a wonderful holiday this year, and are looking forward to a Happy New Year ahead. This time of year is always so busy and stressful, and full of expectations, that sometimes it can overwhelm us, taking the fun out of the holiday and zapping us of any chance for relaxation. This year I actually found it fairly relaxed, and I attribute that to several things I did a bit differently.
1. I shopped all year ’round. Well, not exactly. I never went out hunting specifically for Christmas presents. But if I happened to stumble upon something that was “just right” for someone, I picked it up – and then held on to it. I’ve done this before, but always ended up giving the gifts early because I couldn’t wait. This year, for example, when I found swizzle sticks at an antique store during my travels out West that I thought would be perfect for my sister’s collection, I stashed them away in a box where I accumulated other gifts. When it came closer to Christmas time, I already had about a quarter of my shopping done.
2. I gave thrifted & vintage gifts. I’ve never done this before, but always admired Shopping Golightly at the Thrifty Chicks for her ability to give thrifted gifts with such elegance. This year, I found a few really perfect items. One was a vintage wool and angora cardigan sweater that had both an interesting design and shape. When I tried it on, it fit perfectly, but I knew it would really suit my sister’s style spot on. I had the same impression when I stumbled on the ’50s barware that would go well with my sister’s vintage bar collection. I cleaned all the items and repackaged them, again following the advice at the Thrifty Chicks blog.
3. I started my Christmas crafting early. I started with a women’s group, and we made Christmas cards together. I realized that working in a group is a great idea – not only do you share supplies, you share ideas and inspiration. I made all my Christmas cards this year, and homemade gift tags, but because I did some of this work in a group, and started back in mid November, it was a manageable task.
4. I went thrifting for craft supplies. Thrift stores are really a great source of discovery when it comes to both Christmas and crafts. You won’t find everything you need, but what you do find can be surprisingly perfect. I found an old Lewiscraft Christmas Cracker Kit, which I repurposed and used for gift tags.
5. I bundled my online gifts. I made a list of everyone I was ordering for online and what I wanted to buy – books, DVDs, etc. Then I ordered them all at once. This meant I could save on shipping costs, and spend less time shopping online. It was one order, one purchase, very easy.
7. I made one trip to the liquor store. I planned ahead to get everything I would need for Christmas and New Years, and bought some extra red wine just in case – again, avoiding long lines and crazy jams in the parking lot.
8. I didn’t go Boxing Day shopping. It’s weird, but I actually feel guilty for not going boxing day shopping. I guess a part of me figures that it’s a great time to buy some good items at really low prices. But I can’t bring myself to do it. Using my week off as an opportunity to rest and relax trumps any financial savings from boxing day sales. I hate being in malls, I hate the pressure to spend, and I hate the craziness in the stores and parking lots this time of year. I’m certain that the benefit of staying home to truly relax is more beneficial to me than any bargains I could possibly pick up.
9. I didn’t worry (too much) when things weren’t perfect. My homemade gifts or cards don’t look anything like Martha Stewart, but Martha never comes to Christmas at our house, so who’s comparing? This year I tried to relax and tell myself that people appreciate the thought and effort that goes in to homemade items (and store-bought gifts, for that matter) and that no one expects things to be perfect. Our meals at Christmas weren’t flawless either, but it actually made for a nice realization: Christmas day can still be great without being perfect. This year our family seemed to roll with the punches despite a few flaws, and it felt really nice.
What’s the best thing you did this Christmas to make it a relaxing, less stressful holiday?