Thanksgiving is now a memory in Canada, fast approaching in the USA, and soon to be followed by Christmas for all—yes, I’m using the word “Christmas” but I’m thinking of all the seasonal celebrations, religious and otherwise, surrounding the winter solstice. We know it’s the time of year to reflect gratefully on the good things in our lives, particularly our family and friends.
To be able to reflect with pleasure, we have to be careful not to get caught up in the endless purchasing and worrisome preparation tasks ahead and, instead, take time to enjoy what we have and can share, and allow ourselves to be inspired by the beauty and love around us. It’s there under all the work and to-do-lists surrounding us.
Plan Ahead to Reduce Celebration Stress
Parents and homemakers—male and female—are now thinking of gifts to make or buy for family and friends, searching recipe books and the Internet for yummy food and treat ideas, pulling family decorations for the home out of storage, and planning charitable gifts and donations which seem to be even more important as this special time of year approaches.
How do you cope with all the seasonal stress on you and your pocketbook, and how do you accomplish all your tasks in time to actually enjoy the celebrations? It can be done:
- Plan – Start your plans and make your to-do lists in November (yes, grab a pen and begin if you haven’t already). If Thanksgiving is still to come at your house, start with those plans and preparations and then move on.
- Purchase – There are good sales in November, the shops aren’t crowded yet, and the Internet is never crowded. Decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts, food, beverages, charity, and entertainment for the Christmas/Holiday Season and start assigning dollar amounts to the items on your list.
- Prepare – Aim to purchase all the cooking and baking items you can make in advance of the holidays, and select a few items to prepare and freeze every week. If you don’t have a freezer, find a friend who has one and will rent you a little space for three or four weeks.
- Wrap – Assemble gift wrap so that it is on hand when you need it. If you are trying to economize and save the planet, consider using brown paper gift wrap decorated with colorful designs and tied with raffia that you can buy in different colors. Both are inexpensive, very artsy looking, and are available from dollar stores and craft stores and can be recycled (unlike foil wrap and glittery ribbon).
- Tie up the Loose Ends – Plan to have almost everything possible bought, baked, cooked, frozen, or gift wrapped by the end of the first week in December, leaving very little to do in the final days. The start of December is usually the last opportunity to deliver gifts and mail donations to people and organizations that need our help to make happy holiday celebrations possible for them.
There’s An Easy Way to Buy Gifts for Kids and Adults
Every Christmas since I was a child, I have always asked for a “new book” and I still put that on my wish list. Even though TV and computers have changed reading practices for many people, children still need books to relate to characters and to fully experience the joys and new experiences that are learned through storytelling. From books—unlike passive TV watching—kids learn empathy and develop a better understanding of people and their motives. If they read mysteries, they also develop problem-solving skills. We adult book readers, of course, can’t do without fodder for our favorite pastime.
Make your gift giving easier by choosing appropriate books for the kids and adults on your shopping list. I often choose from the latest popular books for adults featured on Jon Stewart’s Daley Show. For kids, the books you read as a child are still loved by children today, and librarians and bookstores are happy to make recommendations about the most popular new books available. As well, not all good books are on the shelves. If you want to buy a book that sounds perfect but you can’t find it, just ask your favorite bookstore to order it for you or buy it online if you prefer. Orders are filled quickly at this time of year.
Give yourself the gift of enjoying the busy Thanksgiving-Christmas-Winter Solstice holiday season by making your preparations in advance. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy the celebrations!
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Maureen Grenier and a clickable link back to this page.