By Caroline Bujold
There is so much good advice out there on the Interwebs on how to stay sane and organized during the Holidays that instead of only sharing my own tips, I thought I would pass along my favourites as well.
1. Choose the holiday traditions YOU want to maintain
Life Coach Martha Beck suggests that we take a good look at what traditions work for us, not only at home, but with friends and in our work environment. She also presents strategies to better the traditions we decide to maintain.
I like this idea mainly because people often do things out of habit, without considering if the traditions still work for them. The fun in traditions is about the anticipation. You know what’s going to happen and you look forward to it. So anything that fills you with dread needs to go.
I remember growing up, my cousins and I had many traditions of our own. We would watch ”Ciné Cadeau”, a special programming of cartoons and movies that only happened at that time of year. On Christmas Eve, we would go to bed all together around 8 or 9pm, dreaming of the goodies we would get later. Someone would wake us up close to midnight to go to ”La messe de ménuit” (midnight mass said with my grand-father’s accent) where we would all sit together and sing with the choir. Back at my grand-parents house, we would open gifts and then eat all the awesome food that had been prepared and play ”Crocodile” – an invented game related to the carpet in the basement (don’t ask, I can’t even remember what it was about, but we had a blast). We would go to bed in the wee hours of the morning until we could get up again and play with our new presents and maybe go for a walk in the snow.
Replacing traditions with new ones could also be a great way to reclaim the Holidays. What ever works for you.
2. Speaking of traditions, if you send cards to friends and family, start early
The best thing about receiving a card is the personal note inside. This takes time. So start early. Sending generic cards with just your signature is a sure way to have your card, however beautiful, go straight in the recycling bin once the Holidays are over.
You might want to consider ordering custom cards or postcards created using online software. There are so many websites for that nowadays. Just search Custom Holiday Cards online of go directly to Canada Post’s Website. Just be wary of ordering from other countries and having to pay duty – read the fine print.
If you have little ones who want to write to Santa, Canada Post will make sure their letter gets to the North Pole. Just remember they have until December 17th to send their letter in order to receive a reply.
3. Streamline your gifting
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, think about reducing your gift-giving – Having a Secret Santa with a spending limit might help. That’s what we do in my husband’s family. You can even draw names online and have people add their gift ideas directly. You could also decide to forego gifts or pool your money and do an activity together instead.
If you are going to buy gifts, keep lists of ideas on your phone – If you haven’t started yet, don’t panic. Pay particular attention to the people in your life over the next couple of weeks and jot down notes on what they may like to receive. Ask questions if you aren’t picking up any clues.
Determine and stick to a budget – Your loved ones won’t love you more if you put yourself in debt for them.
Make something – If you’re creative, and can give something meaningful or helpful that you made, rather than purchased, these kinds of gifts can be perfect. Over the years, the gifts that had the most effect and cost the least were things I made. You don’t have to start form scratch or have special talents.
The year we got married, we gave our family mini photo-books of our day that we ordered and made online.
For our first Christmas, my now husband found fabric and had it sewn to fit my small bistro table. I loved it, it was so thoughtful and exactly the colours and dimensions I needed. We didn’t technically make the gifts ourselves, but you get the idea.
Give the gift of experience – I also love to give handmade gift cards for activities, experiences or services. Last year I gave my services for an Organizing Project to one of my friends for her birthday.
On my birthday last year I received a Photo Shoot leading up to launching this blog. Friends helped pick my clothes and location of the session and we got to work with Julianna Damer, an amazing photographer and friend.
In past years, when I was living in the same city as my mom, and for a couple years, both her birthday and Christmas presents were Afternoon Tea in grand hotels. We tried a few places and I miss being able to do that with her now that I live four provinces over.
If you have family or friends that live far away, here are three ways shopping online can save you money.
Instead of shopping from a bricks and mortar store and then shipping your presents yourself, consider buying online and having the item shipped directly to the recipient. Depending on the amount of your purchase, shipping may be free or less than sending it yourself. Either way, you will save time and stress.
Other gifts don’t have shipping fees at all. For example: a subscription to a magazine (paper or online versions) or digital downloads (from iTunes, Kindle, Kobo, Amazon, etc.). Make sure the person you’re buying for has the device necessary to use your gift.
I love giving and receiving gift cards or e-gift cards. For one, they don’t cost anything extra to send, which in my case is a major plus with family and friends being far. If you run out of ideas, prepaid credit cards are also great. Your person will be able to buy something they really need or want.
If you are going to ship packages or shop online, check the shipping deadlines.
Double Duty Gifting – Buy something for that special someone on your list and give back to charity at the same time. Your people will receive a really great gift and you will be able to tell them how much their gift is still giving.
For example, ”Me to We Artisans is a line of original accessories, handcrafted by artisans in Free The Children countries across the globe. Each unique piece is a connection between you and a working artisan, sustainably produced using locally sourced materials … The artisans are paid a fair wage for their work”.
Stay tuned for Part 2
Next week I’ll show you our decorations, no tree needed.
I did tell you I was obsessed with these colours 🙂