On my latest Momversation, I spelled out EXACTLY how I plan on having a no-stress holiday season.
So far? It’s working!
How are you doing things differently? If you have an idea, leave a comment and you could win big!
Best Idea: $500 Target gift card
Runner-up: $250 Target gift card
Best Video Comment: $100 Target gift card
THAT would certainly help make a holiday stress-free! Good luck!
I think this year rather than wrapping all of the Santa gifts, one by one, I am going to use gift bags. It should save me, not only hours of wrapping, but a bad backache!
Our gift giving is changing in a couple of ways this year!
1) Our adult gift giving is a homemade grab bag. Finally, it won’t feel like we’re just trading money with people!
2) For our two young children – we are getting then each four gifts: something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need. My youngest is one, so I took some liberties – but I think this will be our pattern from here on out.
It feels good to have each gift have a purpose PLUS I have avoided those thoughtless grabs off the shelf just for the sake of gifting
Instead of buying gifts for everyone in our family we have decided to donate. We don’t need more items when there are people with so little. My mom and step dad sent care packages to the troops, my sister and her husband and two kids adopted a family, and my husband and myself donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Jerilee E. says:
I signed up for a newsletter/forum last year (pinchingyourpennies.com) . They send out emails everyday with a list of super fabulous online deals. I started buying Christmas presents last FEBRUARY, using their awesome info.
I have 5 little kids, ages 2-8, so Christmas could be a spending nightmare. This year it has been WONDERFUL. I was done shopping by September, except for a few things here and there and it was all spread out- so no spending a billion dollars all at once.
Also, I didn’t ask my kids what they wanted this year. They will be happy to get presents, but not disappointed if they don’t get exactly what they asked for.
This may not work so well once we reach teenage years ;).
This year is different already for me because I’m engaged and now have TWICE the family to see and buy gifts for. My fiance and I discussed this and we decided that we’re only going to buy immediate families and grandparents gifts and the people who are our bridesmaids/groomsmen gifts. One thing I am doing differently is I am getting more crafty, it saves the stress on my budget and when I do it with the kids I babysit, they LOVE it. I don’t know if it makes things less stressful but doing Christmas crafts with kids always brightens my spirit because I see their looks of amazement when they finish a project
A good, easy project idea:
Tape saran wrap onto a flat surface so it doesn’t have wrinkles
Use white glue to make solid holiday shapes
put a loop of yarn into the glue to be used as a hanger later
sprinkle with tons of glitter!!!!!
wait 48 hours and peel the ornaments off the saran wrap!
Other things to make things less stressful:
One thing that my mom always did was pre-cook breakfast the night before be it coffee cake or cinnamon rolls. When I was a kid my mom would also let us open one gift the night before and it was ALWAYS Christmas pajamas. I realized now it was so we would look “Christmas-ey” for when they would take pictures/video tape us.
What a cute ornament idea! I run a home-based daycare and I always let the kids do ornaments for their parents…we’ve done just about every ornament out there, but I’ve never seen this one before. We’re doing it this year! Thanks!
1. Serve reindeer at our Christmas party. It should turn off enough people to cut our consumption by a third. Savings: $158 in food
2. Wrap the kids gifts in… other gifts. Like a turduken. “Hey look Joey! You got a transformer wrapped in pyjamas wrapped in a lego castle!” Savings: $45 wrapping paper and bows
3.Spike the holiday punch with windshield fluid. WAY cheaper than rum. Savings: $30
4. Tell the kids that santa called and said he won’t visit our home if its as dirty as last year. Get cleaning little ones! Savings: $60 in cancelled cleaning services.
5. Took kids to the mall for photo with santa. When I saw it was $5 per kid we took this year’s holiday photos with Steve the Sunglass Hut guy. Savings: $15
My husband now thinks I’m crazy because I was laughing out loud reading this! Thanks for the laugh!
Somehow I managed to guilt my husband into wrapping all of the gifts last night! I always have to wrap for hours and hours- and magically he stepped up and handled it while i was doing laundry.
I already did what I have to do to have a largely stress free holiday, which is – I started buying in the summer. I always find that the years I enjoy Christmas the most are the ones when I am not still shopping in December! I don’t always manage to get it done early, but this year I did, and it’s mostly wrapped and ready to go! So now I can just concentrate on my law school finals, and enjoying the season with my kids.
for extended family we’re not buying gifts. everyone is buying a 5.00 item and maybe a few small 1.00 items and we’re playing a dice game called seven/eleven. the little gifts we’re bringing are the prizes. we put the small gifts in the center of the table and take turns shaking the dice. if you shake a 7 or an 11 (total of the 2 dice that you’re shaking) you pick a small gift from the center of the table. when gifts are gone from the table then you can”steal” a gift from someone else. it’s a lot of fun and we have a great time and no one is broke or stressed from trying to buy the perfect gift. to add to the fun and to destress even more, we all bring appetizers to share. we do this on christmas eve. we have an adult table playing the dice game and one for all the kids. its great fun and everyone looks forward to it all year.
Meaghan Harris says:
Well this year I have had to really slow down, with two kids is hard to do. However recently diagnosed with Placenta Accreata, I am relishing in enjoying my children and not sweating the small stuff that make me run around like a mad woman! I started shopping a lot earlier this year. My plan to have all out of state gifts bought, wrapped, and shipped by Dec. 10, is working out. I had my mom come over and take an easy going picture of our family to use for our Christmas card that I ordered through Shutterfly after writing a review on my blog and receiving them for free! See saving money and time makes life easier and manageable for us all. Instead of baking ten different kinds of cookies I chose the top five. The boys and I knocked out two kinds of cookies yesterday. In the end preparing for the holidays this year is all about our family. Everything we do we do together and that makes the holidays sweeter and less chaotic for us all.
We are moving from VA to NH with 5 kids and 3 dogs 10 days before Christmas (I don’t recommend this for a stress-free holiday.) But I did all of my shopping online and had it shipped to my Dad’s house so I wouldn’t lose it. The internet is awesome!
I am just telling myself to slow down and enjoy my children, they grow too fast and it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day. So in the most important way I’m making this Christmas less stressful is by not making it about the “stuff”. I’m making it about spending time with my kids and family.
oops! and now leaving a comment at the right place!
instead of stressing over what everyone on my list wants for xmas and finding the money to by it, i am making many treats for them instead, it will be calm for me and delicious and different for them
In a way, my holidays have been simplified for me. As a newly single mom, I don’t have my kids for the holidays for the first time this year. We’re making the best of the situation by creating and anticipating new (and simple) traditions! Ahead of the holidays we’re setting aside time to make cookies, have holiday television marathons, and just taking the time to breathe and take in the sights. This is uncharted territory for all of us for sure, but having to take things a day at a time has helped us to appreciate the small moments.
I refuse to get worked up about Christmas this year. I will start shopping on my December payday (15th) and will walk out of the front door of my building, reusable shopping totes in hand, heading straight for the shops in my ‘hood that are locally owned. There’s an amazing game store, toy store, bookstore, and several boutiques at which I plant pick out my family’s trinkets and baubles. Additionally, I will peruse Etsy for a couple of specific items. Supporting local vendors and independent craftsfolk makes me feel great! Might even skip all the holiday cooking and order our dinner from this wonderful shop that has all of their ingredients locally sourced, organic and sustainable. Lastly, I’m ignoring what my mom told my growing up. When someone asks you what you want for Christmas, I’m not going to say, “Oh whatever you get me is fine!” because I now know that I’m just making that person’s task harder! They genuinely want help figuring out what I like/need. Ooh and as far as wrapping goes, there are these reusable cloth gift bags that have a registration number on them. You log the starting zip code on their website and when you gift it, the recipient logs it too and it tracks the bag, kinda like Wheres George, then they gift it and that person logs it, etc, and you can watch it travel around! Eco-conscious and fun! All told, I’m very much looking forward to everything this year! Happy holidays to you all!
(I typed this all on my phone … Hope it comes through intact and without any embarrassing auto-corrects! )
personally, i think that taking a year off from presents and volunteering instead is 1. a great lesson to children 2. a way to destress your holiday almost entirely! all shopping stress is out of the way and you have a redeeming reward of doing charity for other people, as well as a lesson to your children.
Sarah T says:
I sign up for survey companies where you get rewards in Amazon dollars. After doing surveys all year, I have more than enough Amazon money to purchase gifts for everyone that I need to, and nothing comes out of my pocket. Amazon has a little bit of everything for everyone, and I never have to leave my house to purchase anything. Totally stress free!
this year since both my hubby’s and my sibs are all married, we decided to get “couple” gifts for everyone. I cut our shopping in half, and saved money too! Plus everyone gets something they need/want for their house. It’s a total win!
The Sweetest says:
We have to travel to see family over Xmas and I mail all of the gifts, and sometimes some of the diapers and other kid gear, ahead of time so we don’t have to lug so much crap on the airplane.
First, I’m remembering loved ones who’ve passed away recently by honoring their memories. My husband recently lost his grandfather, so one of his gifts will be the folded flag the military gave at his funeral, framed in a lovely flag case so it can be on display at our house.
Also, my dad passed away suddenly from colon cancer 2.5 years ago, and though my heart is still broken, I’ve started a tradition of sorts. One of my gifts to my mom each year is a donation I make in his memory to the colon cancer research division of the American Cancer Society. It means so much to us to honor him in this way.
We are giving our kids a ‘low-tech’ xmas this year. With a 2 and 4 year old it would be very easy to get them the latest preschool gadgets. However, as part of our new ‘living simply’ motto they will receive a swingset, Slinkies, puzzles, a Hop ball (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0033SXYAY/ref=oss_product), and a Waldorf doll. I think they will get more use, fun, and creativity out of these toys. ALSO, I’m not fighting the crowds for the latest toy craze.
This year, we’re keeping it simple – food gifts for everyone, i.e., truffles, cookies, etc. Who doesn’t like to eat around the holidays, right? My daughter just turned 1 last month and she’s in awe with the lights, decorated trees, music, we’re having fun with it and enjoying every moment with her.
We do a holiday exchange with my husband’s family. Each person has 1 other person to buy for, and a strict spending limit. Then we savor our time together, and do a fun holiday activity. Like baking cookies together. We’re also pooling the remaining cash to make a bigger donation to a charity we can all agree on.
With my family, we only exchange gifts for the kids. We’ll be making another donation for the adults.
Mama K says:
This year I am making those tie fleece blankets for my son, nieces and soon-to-arrive nephew. We made calendars and mugs with pictures of our son for the grandparents. Most of it has been done online so not alot of dealing with the holiday crowds. My family can be filled to the brim with the crazy, so this year my husband and I have decided to stay home on Christmas Eve and only go spend the day on Christmas day with the family. This way we start a tradition with our son and hopefully avoid having to get a prescription for Xanax to make it through the holidays!
i’m not traveling. teaching in public schools, we have to work all the way up to the 23rd of december. trying to get out of town by Xmas was always very stressful so this year we are staying put!
Sounds so simple, but taking it slowly (working on ordering holiday cards one day, then the letter another day)… and doing less (no tree this year at our house, but lots of music and enjoying festivities out of the house where there is no clean up!)… and shopping at just a few places for everyone unless something really shouts at me.
Great ideas you have…such a clever, clever girl. I have wanted one thing and one thing only in this life and that was children. Life is funny. You know, you make plans and then someone laughs their ass off and says…”not so fast”! Alas, children are not possible for me and since I am 44 and have sort of given up on Mr. Right, well this is my long winded way of saying my 8 nieces and nephews are my entire world…the air I breath if you will. Suffice it to say I spoil them perfect! This year rather than fret about the perfect gift…let’s face it, I already bought them every thing…I am giving them a box of money. That is right, a box of 100 one-dollar bills. And because I am a pediatric oncology nurse and help run a camp for children with cancer and their families, I am making a donation for that same amount in each of their names to Camp Agape NW. Agape is the Greek word for unconditional, all consuming, perfect love. It is the best way to describe and acknowledge how I feel about each one of them.
Wishing the Spohr family that same Agape, this Christmas and every day1
Lisa D says:
This summer we moved far, far away from family. Usually Christmas entails traveling back and then having somewhere between 5 and 8 different celebrations between our two families (and no one’s even divorced!). This year we called a halt to the Christmas craziness. Christmas is going to be about us and the kids spending time with one another. We’re staying home. By ourselves. We’re going to do an informal brunch with friends, but we’re saying no to the family craziness. Instead, we’ll fly back AFTER Christmas. All of the visiting with none of the stress and guilt of the actual day. I’m looking forward to spending most of the day in our PJs–something you just can’t do when your mother expects you to be at dinner at 1:30 sharp.
I made things simple on myself with the extended family gifts. I contacted the parents of all the littles (& not so littles!) in our family & asked where they’d prefer to receive giftcard from this year. I order most online delivered straight to my door & picked up the rest as I was out & about. Easy, peasy. I know they’ll get exactly what they need and/or want. As far as my son, I’m going with the adage of something he wants, something he needs, something to read & something personal from me. The books have been ordered off Amazon & an annual Christmas ornament has been purchased to add to his grown up collection. All that’s left is the want & need.
We have family visiting for the holiday. I’ve started a list of things we’d like to do together while their here, along with restaurants for eating out & easy meal ideas for while their here. That way we won’t be bored or overscheduled or scratching our heads at dinner!
I’ve also let go of any pressures or preconceived ideas of what this holiday SHOULD be. It will be wonderful as long as we are together. No ifs, ands or buts!
I shop early, avoid the crowds and actively avoid becoming stressed out about gifts, which side of the family we’re visiting, etc. With four kids, we have enough on our plate. I keep the traditions simple and meaningful and try really hard to remember why we are celebrating.
Happy holidays to all!
Brandi G says:
In my attempt to do things differently this year I am letting my little sister & her wife host Christmas Eve dinner. I am a bit of a control freak, and love to have everyone over and entertain, but they just moved here, and it will be her first time hosting such a special event, and she really wants to do it. This will also (hopefully) remove some stress for me since I won’t be doing a big dinner, and can enjoy someone else’s cooking, and it will mean so much to them. Plus, the kids should fall asleep on the car ride home after dinner, ( double score!) meaning my husband and I won’t have to fight the good fight of getting children to bed on Christmas eve! This will be a very special year. It will be the first Christmas in 9 years that (most) of my family will be together. Can’t wait!!
Christmas is my favorite holiday and always a big production with lots of parties and the stress of running around like crazy. This year my husband and I decided to go back to basics and make it all about our family, a few close friends and giving back. We have let our two young boys take the lead and decide what we will and won’t attend.
A fun pajama party with two other families that we do everything with, check, the stuffy party that they have to wear fancy clothes to, no dice!
My husband and I planned a quick get away to Catalina the last weekend before Christmas so my boys will stay with Grandma and bake treats for our friends and neighbors.
The best part – my boys went through all of their toys and books and came up with 3 large bags to donate to the women’s and children’s shelter near here. In a season of I wants this was really touching to me.
Long ago someone said, “My kids get 3 presents bc that’s how many the Christ child got.” I thought that was pretty awesome.
This is a simple answer, not intended to win any large amount of money because it’s just… common sense.
But the way I make holidays less stressful is usually by just remembering the *reason* for the holiday and forcing myself to just… calm down.
Our culture is starting to lose the values of traditions, the mystery behind spirituality, and the beauty of the changing season. We get caught up in the “excitement” of shopping early or using newspaper for wrapping presents, or creating a holiday feast that a family of 50 could enjoy. And by the time the holiday is upon us – we’re so exhausted that we barely even enjoy it!
Just settle. Listen to some music. Hug each other. Breathe. Meditate on the reason that you’re celebrating to begin with. And be merry.
One thing my family is doing to simplify is to draw names so everyone is buying for one person. It’s not like a brilliant idea, but we’ve been resisting doing it for years because my family loves to give each other gifts.
Then, this summer my sister got married in Hawaii so my parents paid for all of us to go out there for the wedding. It was incredible–best week ever. Afterwards, we decided to do the Christmas exchange and use the money we save to go on a family vacation each year. It won’t always be as extravagent as Hawaii, but it will be really fun.
We end up driving from city to city to city. It’s ridiculous. My parents live 40 minutes from us, then it’s 2 hours to inlaws and another 4 hours the next day for grandma.
This year we booked a room at Great Wolf Lodge near the inlaws and told my folks they were welcome to join us. Inlaws opened up their home to my parents and sister too, so dinner will be WHOLE family. We’re bringing desserts, my mom is ordering turnip from the hotel and with two kitchens in my in laws home, there will be lots of equal work to make dinner a success.
Well… I buy for a lot of people because I know they are in need. I have friends who cannot afford much for their kids (working) so I try to help out. I am also a nanny so I have to buy for the kids too. Plus being Santa + Auntie to my nephew this year (mom’s not in the picture anymore so I stepped in) means 2x the presents… fun for me!
I started buying in September, and have bought every item on sale or at Costco where things are cheap anyway! Costco even had Carters christmas pajamas, so cute! Perfect gift for $7!
I also bake cookies and bring them to every house I bring presents to. This is good in case they have someone visiting for christmas (like grandma) whom you didnt get a gift, they still can eat your creations!
Lisa Ash says:
We are buying for children only. We started last year with this program and it worked well – other family members were *thrilled* with this suggestion.
I’m not waiting til the last minute this year! I’m hoping to have all of my gift buying done by December 19.
We give our kids the cash money that we would have spent on their Christmas presents so that they can use the money at the after-Christmas sales. They get what they want (and more of it) which means I minimize the stress of Christmas shopping and don’t have to keep track of gift receipts. We do buy small inexpensive items for the stockings; things we know each one likes such as favorite candy, lip balm, socks, etc. It really does allow us to focus and enjoy the true spirit of Christmas.
Cierra wilkisonc says:
I have an extremely large immediate family so each family chips in so much cash and then take the money and buy scratch off tickets! Like ten bucks worth each and we all sit around the house scratching our tickets together! We all come out with a least a buck and we get really jealous of my aunt and uncle with the new baby because they get her scratch offs lol. The little kids 12 under each buy a movie and a game then play Chinese Christmas. The adults each buy a ten dollar food gift card to mcdonalds or sonic etc and a twenty dollar giftcard to a store to play Chinese Christmas with. It’s really funny to see people get Victorias secret when they are a guy or bass pro shop for a girl. The best thing is that the movies and games keep the kids occupied while the adults talk.
Our ideas for a stress-free holiday:
* potluck holiday dinner with friends
* our kids will get three things each: an outfit, a book (or two), a special toy plus stocking fillers
* reuse gift boxes/bags from last year (that people gave our gifts in)
* use cloth bags/material for the rest of the gifts
* bought some gifts from etsy.com and some gifts of experience (museum pass, reiki treatment, cleaning service, amusement park tickets, etc.)
* family gift: a day on the slopes
Keep It Simple and Sweet, then it will be more memorable! =)
One more thing: we STAY home! We don’t travel during the holidays. We celebrate Solstice so that day is spent at home with just our little family. Christmas Day, we go to my mother’s (10 minutes away) for brunch and gifts. This makes it a less harried holiday experience!
Our family is really broke this Christmas. Our past 2 paychecks have had to be spent on only bills and getting our heater fixed, so presents weren’t really an option for us. We decided that the best thing to do is buy cheap used tins from Goodwill, and make sugar cookies for all our family members! Who doesn’t love cookies? Also, for those in our family who we really do want to give a gift I’m using up my leftover yarn and knitting things for them. It’s my baby’s first real Christmas (his first one was spent on oxygen not having any fun because he was 3 months premature) and for him I’m making a very special snuggly blanket. I guess to sum up, my idea is go handmade! If you’re creative, then use it!
We spend the holidays in a different state with my parents. Hauling all of the gifts is a huge pain, takes up a ton of room in the SUV (which is already packed to the brim b/c we go for three weeks) and stretches the budget.
This year, we’re buying one small and thoughtful gift for each person on our list. Small. Thoughtful. Key words! And then we’re going take our kids to the mall, choose a few Christmas angels and spend our money and a day buying for kids who wouldn’t have much otherwise. My kids are two and three years old and someone told me they are too young to get it. I don’t believe that. My kids are intelligent and even if their understanding is extremely basic, they will get it on some level, even if all they take away is that sometimes we buy things for people we don’t know. Plus, I believe in starting young. When you grow up doing things a certain way or thinking a certain way, it’s just part of your life, not a big deal.
So, that’s how we’re going to simplify our holidays! My husband and I already scaled back on the insane gifts we used to buy each other the year we had kids, and after a year of being parents, we decided we weren’t going to make Christmas an out of control gift-fest for our kids (again, starting young), so this is our next step to simplify the holidays!
Since I’ve got less income than last year I can’t buy as many gifts for friends and family. What’s going to happen is gift cards, also I started making jewelry again so my girlfriends will get handmade necklaces and bracelets. For close family members (mom, dad, brother, grandpap) they will get something small but meaningful.
Also instead of sending Christmas cards to everyone and their mother this year, I’m only sending Christmas cards to close friends and family. I have extras so if I get a Christmas card from someone I didn’t send one to I can send one right back out to them.
I usually go all out for Christmas so I feel bad not being able to do so, friends new babies, cousins, etc., but with less income, it’s really hard.
This year I’m not doing Christmas cards – Im going to send out Valentines instead – I want the yearly photo exchange but I just can’t do one more thing right now. So. I’m not.
This year we are skipping the traditional Christmas stuff and putting all our money towards our new house we just bought.
It will be my mom, my sister, my aunt, my uncle, my daughter, and I all here sharing this house so it’s like Christmas everyday.
Cathy K. says:
I pick one item that I’d like to receive as a gift and get the very same thing for each couple in our extended family (once a digital picture frame, last year a really luxurious throw and this, a hurricane lamp with candles to match). One stop shopping at it’s best and if I can have them gift wrapped by a local charity at the mall, all the better.
Our other idea wrap a nice bottle of wine and 2 glasses in a basket to keep under the tree for that “unexpected” gift need – if it’s not gifted have the wine with your New Year’s Eve dinner. This has come in handy more than once.
I think half the battle of Christmas shopping is knowing what you want to buy! In my iPhone I keep a little secret list of gift ideas. All throughout the year, when I hear my friends or family mention something they really like, or when I’m out shopping and see something that I know my husband would love, it gets added to the list. That way when shopping time rolls around I already have ideas of what to buy everyone. This year I also started purchasing some gifts early so much of my shopping was done months ago- good for my stress level AND bank account Lastly, I have a “wrap-as-I-go” rule- all gifts get wrapped right away when I bring them home. This prevents accidental peeks and leaves me more time to spend with family around the holidays
My big idea to reduce holiday stress this year is to get pregnant with triplets and then get put on bed rest. Thanksgiving was amazing … just lounged on the couch and ate for four. For Christmas, nobody will even allow me to do anything. My husband has insisted on running all holiday errands for me, and Amazon has been my store of choice for the few gifts I will be giving this year despite everyone’s insistence that I do NOTHING. :o) Now, I do realize that all of this will come back to bite me in the butt bigtime for at least the next eighteen years, but for this holiday season, I’m determined to enjoy my last chance at a stress-free Christmas!
I decided to do a homemade Christmas. It gets my creativity a boost plus I’ve been working on it on and off throughout the year so I’m not stressed out about it during Christmas time. I can just sit back and enjoy w/o the crazy shopping & shoppers.
Due to elbow surgery on 12/17 – I am forced to accept help from family and friends and frankly, why didn’t I do so sooner? I am not sure why I feel the need to do it all myself, that is ridiculous. This year I am graciously accepting the help and looking forward to a fabulous time. Hope everyone else has a great one too!
I’m going to combine my love of baking Christmas cookies with my hate of trying to figure out what to give coworkers (I work in a small office of 4 women) and trying to figure out what to give aunts/uncles/grandmas who keep saying not to get them anything even if you want to by baking Christmas presents! Christmas cookies and pumpkin chocolate chip bread is going to make my house smell yummy and make my coworkers and family happy for Christmas.
I’ve also spent all year buying presents for my parents and brothers and sister at State Fairs and craft fairs so that everything will be awesome and unique, and best of all, I didn’t wait until the last minute and freak out about what to get people.
I did all of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, on a weekday morning when all the stores were deserted. Not having to worry about getting the shopping done and fighting crowds now has cut WAY back on the stress.
Dee Dee says:
My plan this year was to buy all Christmas gifts by November 30th- success!
Wrap a present every day starting December 1 and be done in plenty of time to prevent that last minute stress- success in the making!
December 5th cook the meals until Christmas day to have more time to enjoy the holidays with my family using the Once a Month Cooking idea- success was achieved this morning!
Use financial planning on January 1, 2010 to determine how much I planned to spend on Christmas, divide that number by the number of paychecks I would receive by October 1st and put it in an envelope to pay cash for all Christmas gifts, therefore preventing the end of holiday stress of how to pay for all that stuff-HUGE SUCCESS!
This is the first year I’ve lived away from home (my boyfriend and I bought a condo this fall and are living together for the first time), so it’s going to be fairly simple.
Instead of getting a real or even fake tree, we actually got a little spiral-wire tree from Ikea ($12!), a couple of fake garlands (2, $5 each), a strand of LED lights (shaped like stars, on clearance – $10) and some well-priced decorations! The tree is small and collapses so it’ll save storage space later, and there are so few other things I’m not remotely concerned about it! We’ve only got one other thing decorated and that’s our balcony railing (three strands of LED lights – about $30). Other than that, I don’t think we’re doing any more decorating for Christmas.
As for gifts, we’re probably just keeping it fairly simple there too, since we just spent all of our money ever on the condo, and filling it with shelving and a (really gorgeous) TV. Though I haven’t given it all much thought, I’d like to look into donations as gifts instead of material items, though I know my family will probably object a bit.
Finally, for visiting, we’re going to see the boy’s family for Christmas Eve dinner, mine for Christmas Day and then just rest and relax on the 26th, since we both have to get back to work on the 27th!
I got a lot of my shopping done yesterday, away from the malls and that cut out a lot of stress. I love to avoid the malls when possible!
Amy Moore says:
I am only sending Christmas cards this year to people who would actually be upset not to receive one (read Grandma). For others, I am sending an e-mail and doing some phone calls to catch up.
This year instead of giving gifts I am making donations to local food banks and asking people to do the same instead of giving me gifts
All the grown-ups are forgoing gifts for each other – instead we are planning a trip to Disneyland a couple of months into the new year. Our Christmas day celebration will (hopefully) just be about being together. And we can look forward to a fun shared experience.
A 4-hour flight separates me from my Christmas destination. I have vowed to get all of my shopping done in time to ship the gifts rather than try and carry them in my luggage…so far, so good!
This year is all about enjoying each other, being simple and true to the holiday spirit soooo our family will have three gifts each under the tree to represent what amount of presents the Wise Men brought Jesus on the night of his birth. This tradition will hopefully get to the true meaning of Christmas!
Deidre Mooney says:
trying to finish up the christmas shopping this week so everything can get mailed out and wrapped in time, participating in a cookie exchange so I only have to bake one item and working out lots to destress!!
In my family on one side we are going to forgo the Christmas presents for each other and instead as a family adopt a couple of families that have specific wish lists through a homeless shelter. Not only does this make it easier to shop but it adds extra joy to the holiday season!!
Another way we made it extra special this year on my other side is we are having each child pick one other child and then they can buy that special gift for that child making it more personal!
Another thing we have done is when relatives come in put their gifts in piles by name so that way we don’t miss gifts and don’t have to spend time passing them all around!
We will be doing hand made gifts and restaurant.com gift certificates. Restaurant.com always has promotions for 70 or even 80 percent off, which means I can give a $50 give for as little as $4.
My schedule is so crazy, that I do most of my shopping by mail order. The prices are great and I can find most shipping and discount codes on line. I am sending Christmas gifts directly to the recipient. Gifts for the kids from us will go directly to their grandparents house where they will wrap them. I am also doing this for our extended family as well with instructions to not open until Christmas. It makes travel and life much easier,
If your kids are happy, don’t go out and buy them even more in an attempt to make them over the top happy. Happy is good and trying to do it over the top….just sets yourself up for failure.
This year, instead of an adult gift exchange with the extended family members, we are making donations to the charity of our choice, and doing a “White elephant” gift exchange, to keep the fun in it. We all bring gift that is an item that we already have but don’t use for whatever reason. It can be useful, funny, ridiculous, whatever. Everyone brings their gifts wrapped enticingly, and we play a game -everyone draws a number and we each get to take a present out of the middle, or steal one already chosen until all everyone has a gift. Laughter and hilarity ensues when opening the gifts!
I’ve convinced all of my out of town relatives that we should only exchange gifts on the years we are together–this eliminates the stress (both mental and financial) of shipping gifs all across the country. It is amazing!
My plan for a less stressful holiday – NOT staying the night at my mother-in-laws house Christmas Eve. Basically – eliminating the stressors of the day. We decided what stresses us the most and came up with a solution and put it into action.
Regina O says:
I started shopping really early (like August). I have finished ALL of my shopping (finished BEFORE Thanksgiving). Every gift is wrapped and hidden in an upstairs bedroom. By spending little by little, I didn’t have to shell out a ton of money on one paycheck and it keeps the holidays nice and stress free so I don’t have to worry about paying bills. I also didn’t have to fight crowds and item shortage since no one else was shopping for Christmas at the same time.
As for the stress of the kids…this year, I adopted an Elf on the Shelf (an elf and book that explains that the elf is a spy for Santa). I swear…this item is magic. My 6 year old niece uses her manners more and is polite. She listens to what I say the first time and corrects herself when she starts to say something sassy. She doesn’t want to make Santa mad at her
especially knowing that an elf is watching her every move.
The last few years, I find myself sending Christmas cards the day before Christmas…and it stresses me out the whole month. I toyed with stopping the tradition; but I actually enjoy writing them. So this year I started in October, with a goal of mailing them on December 1. And I did it!! It was a whole lot more relaxing…I had more time to write, more time to enjoy, and absolutely no stress.
I also shopped early and wrapped over Thanksgiving weekend; so I’m pretty much ready for the holidays and am able to ENJOY December for a change. Now if only my job would stop showering me with end-of-the-year deadlines.
Well this year was gearing up to being a little more stressful than any other (in-laws coming from Iceland!! O_O;;) Mostly the money situation is what makes us most stressed… But for my birthday I was given an awesome circular saw and some money, which I promptly took to Home Depot, grabbed some wood, and with the help of ana-white.com will be making my nephew´s gift, along with a bed for the in-laws to stay in, and will be chilling on Christmas day. That and we’re trading babysitting coupons and time coupons with our friends to help save on monetary things. So now, when we need a night out, instead of paying a sitter, we ask our friends, or if we need help to get the house spanking clean we trade our “time” coupon with a friend. (Or you know, if they need my mad skillz to build something. ) lol It’s been a very laid-back, take one day at a time season this year. A very nice change of pace!
Nadine B says:
It sounds bad, but this is the time of year when you need to be selfish.
If you want to spend time with your family, then perhaps turn down the invite to so-and-so’s house. Instead of letting everyone stay at your place or always hosting the dinner party, how about someone else takes it this year, because you not only have the stress of planning and hosting, but also of cleaning up at the end of the night.
Basically, do what you want to do, and don’t let other people pressure you to do something you don’t have time for.
This year, any Christmas decorations that I’m not using by December 11 will be donated for some other family to enjoy and love.
Also, we will choose one gift per person in our family and donate the rest of our Christmas spending budget to one great cause (or maybe two) … before December 31.
Simplify and spread the love …
Life this year, right now in our home is CRAZY! My divorced sister with her 3 kids are living with us. So, yes that makes Me, Hubby, 6 kids (our 3 & her 3) and my sister all under one roof, were kinda like the Brady Bunch!
So in order to make our holidays as stress free as possible:
1. Shopped EARLY & wrapped EARLY! Under the tree is getting full already!
2. For the adults in the family, it’s going to be a gift card exchange this year!
3. Give holiday assignments, planning on other family members to make & bake different foods for our family gathering!
4. Setting up different “stations” around the house: a certain board game in the dinning room, another in the basement, another in a bedroom. A craft station in the craft room. A list of movies to show in the family room. So kids & adults can make there way around the house knowing what’s going on when & where.
5. We’ve cleaned out closets, toy boxes, the basement, the attic, everywhere & donated clothes, shoes & toys to help make room for the new stuff the kids will get this year.
6. RELAX & ENJOY our family time together! Remembering that JESUS is the REASON for the SEASON!
7. The dishes can wait until the next day! :o)
Jennifer A. says:
Something we have done with our kids since they were born, they each get three gifts and a stocking. Now that they are getting older, my son wants more expensive gadgets and so he will say I only wan t one thing and that will count as three! I LOVE this and has always made our gift shopping much easier…and way more thoughtful about what we chose. They can look at a particular gift and say I got that for Christmas in 2007 etc… and I especially love that as well
The stress comes with family buying….soooo THIS year with our extended family we have decided on not exchanging gifts. So I am hosting Christmas this year and we are going to play lot’s of games with the kids and they can win all sorts of prizes making sure each child gets something! Itunes gift cards, subway giftcards, movie cards etc… and my sisters and I will exchange a christmas ornament! So far this has been the most stress free Christmas!!
This year, I did not leave gift-buying to the last minute. I only bought my parents, 2 sisters, and boyfriend one gift each, and made sure it was something they NEED (my mom? a stainless steal turkey baster! My boyfriend who’s never owned anything but sneakers while living in New England? BOOTS)
By thinking of something they really need, it made the stress of finding the perfect gift go away. Even if its not the coolest gift ever, they will appreciate it out of necessity.
My roomate and I also went shopping at Job Lot today, to get small toys and winter items to donate for children. A few fun puzzles and board games, gloves and socks, and BAM! We feel great that we could help out some kids for the holidays (and OMG shopping for kids is so much fun!!)
Grandparents and anyone else I spend time with will get a batch of decorated cookies or banana bread.
Amy crider says:
This year we had all our shopping done by sept 1st. That made the season a lot less stress full buying for my 4 kids is a lot
Last year we decided that all the kids in the family will only get presents if we’re actually together — since we have only 1 child and there are 7 more in the family, it made it expensive to send things every year.
So now we just send for birthdays and skip the holidays unless we’re physically spending it together.
This year we told everyone to stay home and it’ll just be the 3 of us. So nice & relaxing! And I might just order a smoked turkey from the local BBQ joint instead of cooking one myself.
Love your tips and your HAIR!
I’m guessing I’m not eligible for prize (what with being in France ‘n’ all), and there aren’t any Targets here anyway, but I couldn’t resist commenting:
My recommendation for a stress-free Christmas is to separate from your partner of 14 years in the spring. That means a shitload less presents to buy (nothing for him, or his dreadful mother… yeah! WIN!), very little extra food shopping (our two daughters will be with their dad on Christmas Eve, then they and I will be on our own on Christmas Day… no major cooking, no major shopping…) and very little stress. Having a really, really small family also helps (my dad’s in Scotland, but we only see him every other Christmas, and there’s no one else).
This may all sound pretty snarky, and yes, this year has been hellish, but I’m really not that beaten up about Christmas. I’ve been buying little things for the girls since about September, I’ve not got many others to buy (my dad, my goddaughter, a couple of other people, all in England so presents bought via Amazon) and all that I actually need to do now is tidy up the house and get some decorations up!
Merry Christmas and a Happy 2011 to you all!
judi mitchell says:
This year my husband and I decided that our gifts to each other would only be what could fit in our stockings. As a child, my mom would buy special, small things throughout the year for our stockings and those items were bought and wrapped with much love. I absolutely loved my stocking even when I was in my twenties. I’ve enjoyed getting him some fancy cashews, a really cool bottler opener in Germany (at Epcot), show tickets for February, and some nice face moisturizer along with other things and I know he will enjoy his “small” gifts. I have actually had fun coming up with his gifts – not stressful at all…..
Also, I buy each of my three kids a special ornament during the year – something that is tied into the year; whether it be a vacation or something important about the year. I keep track of each ornament in the kids baby books because it would be easy to forget which ornament goes to each child. Someday when they move out (sniff…)..they’ll have a collection of memories from Mom….
This year, we have decided to not go crazy and rather give to those in need. I go into people’s homes for a living (speech therapist) and so many of the families I work with have very little. Many times, kids ask me to leave my toys or if they can come home with me and it is heartbreaking. So this year, we will put together small baskets for each family including toys, books, mittens and hats. I cannot wait to give to these families!!!
Antonia Aruffo says:
What am I doing this year for it to be stress free? Every year mom and I make cookies, we usually make the same batches every time and we’ve never had any complaints. It helps us breathe and remember what we are most thankful for, family.
The biggest difference this year is that my in laws are in Arizona till May, because of that we celebrated Christmas on Labor day weekend for that side of the famil, so I got the 7 nieces and nephews their gifts already and we get to spend more of hubs Christmas bonus on our kids.
The other differnce is that we feel like we’ve got a toy overload here so we decided our daughter who’s 3 is getting one big gift, a Lego table, and everything else small, like books, clothes and maybe some more legos for the table. Our son is only 4 months so he doesn’t care either way and is getting clothes.
In years past, my husband and I have been really down after each Christmas to see how much money we have spent on our extended families. We felt like we were giving little trinkets and gift cards without putting much thought in to what we were giving.
SO – this year – my husband and I started in January putting aside small toys, school supplies, toiletries, candies, socks, and underwear to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Using coupons I was able to get many of the toiletries for free. We bought crayons at back-to-school sales for a quarter a box. We even got our daughter (age 9) in to it, and she donated the toys she received from fast food kid’s meals.
We set a goal of 51 shoeboxes for our family.
As we packed each shoebox, we took a picture of the box with all the items in it. Each shoebox was done in honor of a family or family member. This year each family on our list will receive a card, with a picture of the shoebox donated in their honor, and an explanation of what was given and why.
For MANY of the children who receive these shoeboxes, it is the only gift they will receive. They are just as excited to receive socks and toothbrushes as they are to receive toys! It really puts things in perspective.
I know this won’t be politically correct or oozing with holiday cheer like sugar cookies and peppermint flavored coffee, but seriously…. WINE, WINE and more WINE.
And a little Ativan when needed.
Things to look forward to…
This year my family and I decided only to buy for the kids, instead for each other. I have a 2 year old boy, my sister has a 4 year old girl, and my brother has a band new baby. So only buying for the 3 kids has really helped make it stress-free, we are hoping to make it a good Christmas for them. Us adults can do without, and family time together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will definitely make up for the lack of gifts, I think. Thats what Christmas is truly about anyways – time with your loved onces. But I do admit I cant wait to see the looks on the little ones faces – buy having more money to spend on them we were able to buy them the things they “REALLY” wanted!
We’re only buying for the children this year! With 9 children in the extended family, it’s fun to buy for them and watch them open presents. We’re keeping all the gifts at $20 or less. On Christmas Eve we’ll all get together for a casual potluck dinner and fun evening. We always play fun games together. My sister and I usually make up special games, like last year we made Bingo cards with names of everyone in the family. This year my best gift will be seeing my son! He’s in the Navy on a carrier and I haven’t seen him in a year!!
The way we are doing things different this year is instead of everyone in my immediate family getting each other gifts (parents, sisters, inlaws, nieces and nephews) we all are drawing names. It has cut the gift giving in half. It’s to help everyone out in a hard financial year and also, keeps it simpler, so everyone appreciates the gift they do get, instead of kids rushing through many gifts, hardly noticing what’s being opened. I feel a lot less stressed this Christmas because of it.
Shannon Olgin says:
I am going to cook my large Christmas dinner for Christmas Eve. On Christmas, we will open all the gifts with the kids and then we’ll have left over, so we can spend the day just playing and relaxing. I can’t wait!
I also noticed our local donut shop is open Christmas day, so we can have warm donuts for breakfast with no mess. I don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. I want to enjoy the day with my husband and kids.
Okay, I have to be honest with you I’m not really doing anything this year.
Yes, you read that right. I’ve decided not to do anything really crazy this year. Normally, we run around like chickens without our heads going here, doing this, lighting this tree, singing this carol.
Not this year.
This year we are taking it easy and doing really simple things like making gingerbread houses at home and watching the ABC Family channel a lot.
And I’m liking it.
Now if only I could be this lazy all year long.
I plan on taking lots of pictures and video no matter how much my family complains about it. I have few pictures of my dad just being a grandpa and I know the day will come when I will regret not capturing enough of him on camera.
This year we are eating Christmas dinner at a restaurant. The stress and the cost of cooking for a large group makes the day so stressful and none of the cooks actually get to enjoy the family time!
Luckily for us Bucca is open on Christmas day!
We are only buying for the kids this year . . . this is true for extended family as well; and we are all making charitable donations in the spirit of giving with the money we would have otherwise spent on gifts for the other adults.
Every year, for instance, my parents and my husband’s parents stress over what to send to each other and EVERY year, they each end up sending the other set a gift card, like in equal amounts, which is so silly . . . so this year, they are each making donations to my daughter’s 501(c) Early Intervention program with the money they would have spent on gift cards.
Amy K says:
I’ve watched Craigslist and Groupon for months and gotten most of our Christmas gifts that way. People end up getting much nicer presents than we would normally have gotten them for much less money.
Liz S. says:
As a single mom, I too started buying Christmas gifts for my son early. I also shopped with coupons for many of my items and saved a bundle. However, for my parents and grandparents that are so hard to shop for, I get them pictures of my son for the holidays. My Mom loves coffee, so every year since my son has been born, she gets an updated coffee mug with my son’s picture on it. She uses one everyday and has them displayed on her kitchen counter. My Dad loves the pics of their only grandchild too, as he buys everything else that he wants. And for my grandparents that live far away, I order the photo albums from snapfish.com. I can put captions for what we were doing and they love it. It is a great way for my Grandfather in the nursing home to stay updated. It makes it easy and everyone is happy. When I make the photo album, I order one for myself too. And for all the people that might get me gifts I am unprepared for, I bought some cozy socks, nailpolish, and chapsticks to giftbag. It saves me the stress of getting a gift without being able to reciprocate. And to teach my son about giving, we adopt a name off the giving tree at his school. My friend says that for less Christmas morning stress, she opens all her son’s toys early so that there is no fighting tough packaging Christmas morning when he is ready to play.
Heidi T says:
My biggest tip is we open all of the kids toys and clip all the wires holding the dolls and toys in the packaging. That way, when Christmas morning comes, the children can just open the boxes and pull out the toys ready for them!
For the kids..4 gifts:
Something to wear, something to read, something they want (off the Santa list)….and something to.give (they choose something for each other)
I’m also ordering a holiday meal for dinner. My turn hosting and I want to enjoy my company, not be in kitchen all night!
Money is horribly, terribly tight this year and it could have made for a super tense holiday. Instead, it is shaping up to be an awesome holiday. First of all, we were up front and honest with our older 2 kids about the money situation. They are being so cool about it. Second, I found instructions for making these wickedly cool 3D paper ornaments and I am making them for all the adult family members. Third, I’ve simply decided to not give a sh*t if people don’t like how I’m doing it. If we like it, it is working for me!
Amanda M. says:
Last year my husband’s aunt’s family decided to go crafty, and made all us younger folk marshmallow shooters out of PVC pipe. They’re cheap, easy, and we had a great time with them!
My husband was unemployed most of this year, for 9 1/2 months. He just started his new job a couple months ago. Having a smaller Christmas budget has made me want to do more for others. I don’t know why. It’s weird. So this year, we’re doing a 12 Days of Christmas activity where we do something different on 12 different days…and a lot of those things are geared toward blessing others. We want our girls to not be so focused on themselves!
This year my family is going to do something a little different. Since Christmas is a time for thankfulness and love, we all are all going to draw names from a a hat and whoever’s name that person gets they will write a card describing what they mean to the family and what is special about them. Emotions are rarely talked about and time flies by so we figured we’d share how we each felt while we’re all still here! Also, at church last weekend they gave out a bunch of cards with bible verses and we were able to take as many as we wanted and just simply give them to anyone we wanted to that we were grateful for. It has been so nice giving and receiving cards and I think everyone should take the time to really tell your family you love them. That’s the greatest, most inexpensive yet most meaningful gift you can ever give or recieve. Happy Holidays!
This year my hubby, daughter, and I are just going to stay home. Our family is scattered around and it’s just too difficult to see all of them for the holidays.
I also don’t plan on buying as much for my daughter as I did last year. She’s only 19 months old and probably won’t notice.
Carrie P. says:
I’ve been doing all of my shopping online (so far). Amazon is my best friend this year.
This is going to be a sparse year here. My girls just had a bedroom makeover (loft beds and a futon) so their Christmas, sadly, is officially over from us and my sister (futon). We cut back in huge ways, and this year instead of the crazy madhouse with dozens of presents, there are only going to be one or two for each person.
We will, however, continue our Swedish tradition of Swedish meatballs and potato sausage for Christmas Eve dinner. YUM!
First I sat down and made my budget. Then I made my list, then I divided up rough amounts I could spend on each person. Then I brainstormed ideas on how to keep to budget. Some for the kids involved cyber monday shopping to get toy deals the would love sent here-so no shopping in the crowds for me this year. And I was able to get something the boys and nephews/nieces wanted without going over their individual budgets.
I am making gifts for everyone or ordering gifts that benefit charities. I did a lot of my shopping at local churches when they had their craft fairs and was able to get lots of unique things for everyone without having to spend much money at all. People I didn’t buy for are getting cookies that the kids and I are making together, and they will be in just a simply ziplock but with pretty ribbons.
All in all, a very inexpensive and stress free shopping experience so far-and it is nice to know that the little bit of money I have had to spend will be partly going back to help others-that truly is the best.
Jellis In Cleveland says:
My husband and I both come from big famlies and have divorced parents. His are both deceased, but he has a step mom and 6 sisters. I have both of my parents and my grandma. So that has always left us traveling to 4 houses in one day with 2 little boys. My husband and I did it growing up and it gets old. Our sons go with the flow, but if they get off their schedule of eating and naps look out. It has made me hate the day itself. This year I am excited and I think it will be the Best Christmas ever…both of our familes have decided to do Christmas Day on a different day. So we now have nowhere to go Christmas Day and we are able to drag the holiday into the new year. Which means I be able to enjoy the day without the schedule of where I have to be and when, I get 4 Christmas Dinners on 4 different days, I am also able to use that ugly christmas sweater 4 exta days this year. Here is to the best Holiday Ever.
To make our Holidays a little less stressful I started my shopping early this year. It worked for us to buy our gifts in October when my husband got three paychecks in the month so we could still stay on our monthly budget through the rest of the year.
Also most of the gifts I got were ones that involved my two boys…painted coffee mugs for Grandparents, a photobook (had a free coupon from Shutterfly) and some stained glass items that I’m making.
I also plan on trying to get my parents to get together a few days before Christmas so we don’t have to split the day at my parents and my inlaws on Christmas day. Its too hard to pack up the kids and all the gifts and run around and in the end not get to spend much time with anyone!
I am sending a nice, heartfelt photo card for the holidays, electronically.
This year we are doing gifts in buckets for our kids instead of the free-for-all and having a bunch of crap laying around they won’t touch 2 days after it comes out of the box. Something to wear (jammies), something they need (undies/socks), something to read (kids magazine subscriptions), something to create (play-doo tools/lincoln logs) and something they want (still working on this; they have a bunch of crap on their lists). That tiny change has helped me TONS. And… we’re making minimal commitments for the month of December, since we do our annual ‘road show’ and travel for one week at Christmas to visit out of town family.
Kristy L says:
This year we have decided to do the stockings as usual and then tell the kids we are going to Disney World! They will have luggage to unwrap and small toys and books to unwrap for the plane ride. New swimsuits and towels under the tree. We will pack and leave that night…. so much easier, great memories, they will be so excited! Of course we cant do this every year but this year it will work!
Jennifer Hayford says:
I am a single mom and just bought my 1st house by myself in March! My kids have grand ideas on how they want their rooms. So, this year, while they are at their Dad’s the week before Christmas, I am going to try to create their dream rooms. Painting, hanging shelves, pictures, organizing … some of their presents will be incorporated into their rooms like a Princess throw for my daughter and a huge framed picture of a grouper from our trip to the Georgia Aquarium for my son! They get home on Christmas Eve at 10 pm so they will get their big surprise when they go upstairs to go to bed and they can dream their Christmas dreams in their newly decorated rooms
Karen Bennett says:
This year my Mother in Law had a rough year. She has four children and three grand children. Instead of us all doing our own thing and buying presents for each other we are spoiling her. Her husband left her earlier this year and the divorce was final last week. That week we each went with her to something she wanted to do. I helped her get her christmas shopping done, her daughter took her to see the trains at the mall with her grandson, etc. This year instead of us buying gifts for each other we are getting her giftcards so that she can go shopping for new clothes. After the stress of this year she has lost weight and can’t afford new clothes. We will also be getting together to decorate her house and out up her tree and lights.
There is something so great about making christmas about the ones you love. Spending time with her and making sure that she feels loved this Christmas has taken all of the stress out of the season this year. We are all having a great time already and might continue on this path next year. She definately deserves it and shopping for one instead of fifteen definately simplifies things.
We can’t afford a big xmas this year and we have 3 kids, so we are doing a games only Christmas. We’re buying games that we can play as a family or the kids can play with each other. We are also having each kid pick out a board game to donate that they think another boy/girl their age would like to play. This combines everything I want to do this holiday season: not spend a ton of money on toys they’ll play with for 2 weeks, encourage family time together, and remind them about giving to those less fortunate. And it’s way less stressful – every Target has shelves full of board games…no hunting down multiple stores to find a certain toy that no one has in stock.
WooHoo I love Target, I left my comment over there and of course I forgot to copy so I could paste it over here. It was basically just about starting shopping early, using layaway and doing Kris Kringle with the adults.
My husband and I have two sons, ages 5.5 and 1.5. We have come up with three things we are doing differently this year to keep the gift insanity to a minimum:
1. When family members ask what to get the boys, our answer is: BOOKS! (except for grandparents, we texted them photos of the boys in target with toys they picked out). Everyone has been warned: electronic or large items will stay in the homes of the giver for the boys to play with when visiting.
2. We have bins of Boy #1’s toys packed away. We got Boy #2 BOOKS, but we are going to unearth some age-appropriate toys from Boy #1’s old collection, box them up nice, and give to Boy #2 for Christmas.
3. Boy #2 loves Yo Gabba Gabba. Boy #1 has 8 tons of unassembled Yo Gabba Gabba felt pillows from his last birthday party. He is going to make a complete set of Yo Gabba Gabba pillow friends for his little brother, as his gift.
This year I decided to let my husband take care of his half of the family. That destressed me a lot as I dont know them as well…. it kills me that he is such a procrastinater but he’ll get it done before deadline and I’m just not thinking about it!
Jodie Brooks says:
We always buy for our nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. Kids are getting bigger and more expensive and harder to buy for. So we’ve decided to make things easier and cheaper. Instead of buying for every child, each child has drawn one of their cousins names for a gift exchange. Instead of the usual gift exchange, we’ve decided to do a pajama exchange. We are calling it ‘Pajama Jam’!! It’s going to be sooooo much easier on the buyer, you just need to know their size. Takes the guess work out of shopping and everyone gets the same thing but just different colors and types. No hurt feelings because someone got something better than another. WIN-WIN!! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!
I always try to see if I can find the more expensive items for my kids on ebay. In fact, I bought my oldest daughter a camera on ebay that you talked about! The Fuji instamatic! She is going to be super excited. I can almost always find a “new, in box” for less then in a store, and save myself some frustration and some dollars!
I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments for a stress free holiday. I was really excited for the holidays, planning on decorating and baking my way into the holiday spirit, and I had decided to focus on what I was grateful for and the positives in our lives after a really tough year. This has gotten harder as our home was broken into while we were away for Thanksgiving visiting family. For a few days, I had no holiday spirit at all… but we’ve decided to adopt an angel from the Salvation Army. I’m hoping that doing something nice for a child who doesn’t deserve my “grinchiness” is just the thing to get me back on track. Our family usually does something nice for others instead of gifts- spending time together when we are all spread out is our gift to each other- and I really don’t need another scarf or snuggie, as fun as that can be! This will be our first Christmas without my father so the whole season is bittersweet. Thanks everyone for all the good ideas!
I am not worrying so much about the quantity of presents this year but more the quality. I am taking things in stride this year, not stressing and had figured out what I was buying people this year back in October.
Every year can get very expensive and time consuming in our family with the gift-giving. We have nine children and each one of them likes to buy gifts for each one of them! It can get pretty crazy around here with all the individual shopping trips, and since the youngest six do not yet earn their own money (ages 10 and below) mom and dad have to foot the bill for their sibling gift-giving. Making things for each other just doesn’t cut it. They all wan to shop! And they never want to put a name in a hat and just shop for one sibling, like a Secret Santa deal. Nope. They want to give each sibling a gift. LOL So this year, we gave each child (except my 3 older teens) $10 to spend on family gifts. And then I drove them to the 99 cent store and let them loose. They could buy one gift for each person (plus mom and dad combined) They had a ton of fun in that store, let me tell you. They couldn’t believe everything was only 99 cents. They were very careful and selective and kept each kids’ interest in mind. At the end of the trip, they got ALL of their Christmas shopping done in a couple hours. Some of the gifts were things like a new coloring book, a hair brush, hair ribbons, a big box of Gummy Bears, a book, a new wallet, an address book – things like that.
So this year we saved a lot of money by doing it that way. Just $60 out of our pocket. The kids are happy that they got all their shopping done in one shot, they are excited about what they got each other…and this frees up my time (and my money!) so that I can more enjoy the rest of the holiday season pretty much stress-free.
This year we are on a limited budget due to my husband losing his job a few months ago so gifts are limited to my step-daughters and one joint present for each set of our parents. We have already finished shopping for both of the girls and wrapped everything (exluding 3 items that should be arriving from Amazon today). Our joint present to/from each other is a new point and shoot camera, so we can capture all the memories (and since our old one was falling apart). Since our families live about an hour from us in opposite directions, we are having Christmas the day after Christmas we everyone coming to our place. Like Heather, it will be potluck and I will not run around like a crazy person, but really enjoy the company of my awesome family instead.
I’ve found having less money to spend on things has made me look at the holidays in a new light and I hope to see it this way for years to come.
I’m originally from VA but live in NC. I always struggle (and stress over) what to get for various people in our lives (not the ones with kids, in my life, if you are my friend and have kids, I gift to your kids. And your kids almost always get books from me. board books for the babies–hint, check out TJ Maxxs for great prices and great board books. Various age appropriate caldecott award winners for the older kiddos. I justify the no gifting to my friends who happen to be parents by pointing out that there is no point in trading money back and forth otherwise. They all seem appreciative.). But anyhow, after that long tangent, I still have people in my life who I appreciate and want to acknowledge at the holidays. The vet (who we’ve seen A LOT this year). Teachers. Bosses. The various sister/brother-in-laws. (I still pick something out for my parents.) This year, I found a charity which will sell me VA peanuts. I’ve bought tons of metal holiday cookie tins. (dollar store people) and I think they look quite nice all packaged up. I like that it: supports a charity, are from VA, are delicious, and most importantly takes a lot of the stress out of my holiday giving. Plus, I have several extras already done up and just sitting ready to go in my guest room–which has already come in handy b/c our neighbor dropped off wine for us for christmas–which I was totally not expecting and it was great to be able to say, “Oh just one moment, we have something for you too.” Rather than feel guilty or add her to my growing list of gifts.
In recent years, the gift giving in our house has dwindled. Having four sisters, our family is in that stage between being too old/lazy to buy gifts and having no kids to buy for…yet. Last year, one of my sisters had a fantastic idea. She did all her shopping at SomethingStore.com. At $10 a gift, it’s super budget friendly and it’s so fun to not know exactly what you’re getting, they just send ‘something’ at random. On Christmas, she kept them in their super-secret individual mailing packs, plopped them in a basket, and walked around to room for everyone to pick their own gift. It’s was like a Sanrio Grab Bag Christmas, and it was fantastic! Someone got a usb cable, another a fabulous scarf, and i think there were other handy things (pocket knife, flashlight) thrown in there. Totally awesome.
Alissa G. says:
For me it is just focusing on what is important and keeping things into perspective. We just revealed publicly that I’m pregnant, so my energy is much different than usual. Remebering that the holidays are about family and not gifts, experiences and not shopping. I’m avoiding the crowds and remembering what the holidays are all about.
Robyn Waddy says:
This year has been super tight with two girls in daycare and then my husbands vehicle needing repair last week-600.00 dollars! We have decided to get one big present for both girls (100 or less)and then we have books and a few small toys that we had already purchased to be put all together. To each other we are getting the Move by PS3 and thats it this year-nothing else.
kristen mcd says:
Years ago my SIL and I decided that Christmas Day should be a relaxing, happy day for us too. So we’ve ditched the idea of a giant holiday feast – and instead we fry up several pounds of bacon, slice a half dozen (or more) tomatoes, and tear up a couple heads of lettuce. It’s self-serve BLTs all day long. It’s a tradition now, and our kids are certain that there is no Christmas without bacon.
I like to get all of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving, there are less crowds and so much less stress and now that Christmas stuff is out in September I can even get all my ornaments. That said, I still love to go through the black friday ads and will from time to time go out on black friday to shop for myself. My family is a huge fan of gift exchanges so rather than buying on gift for everyone I only have to buy one gift for each exchange and each one has a $20 limit which is nice. For all of the younger kids who don’t participate in the gift exchange we each buy one gift, usually the same thing, for each kid.
This year, with finances, time, and holiday cheer all being… shall we say, limited, we decided to do things differently. It was more out of necessity, but we’re finding that instead of resenting not having a “big” Christmas, we’re able to enjoy things so much more.
We applied one question to everything – do we do it because we WANT to, or because we feel we HAVE TO?
Presents – no more 47,639 people to buy for. We’re buying for our immediate family, and others that we WISH were family. No more “well, they always get us a gift, so we have to get them one”. Prices aren’t as important as they used to be to us. So what if my SIL’s gift cost $13.95? When we saw it, we knew without a doubt it was 100% her, and she would love it. Which is SO much better than a $49 sweater she’ll never wear. Those that got taken “off” our list? They’ll get a card, letting them know that in lieu of gifts for friends and extended family this year, donations were made to Toys for Tots and other holiday programs.
The WANT vs. HAVE TO worked in other areas too… So many traditions that when discussed, we found that no one really enjoyed, yet here we were wasting hours of time every year doing them, only because we always had. While DH loves peanut butter meltaway cookies, he only tolerated the other 17 kinds that I make. Guess what? I’m only baking ONE kind of cookie this year… and everyone is happier. It also turns out that we would all prefer a simple meal on Christmas Eve, since we know we’ll be stuffing ourselves Christmas Day – so this year I won’t waste hours in the kitchen making a gourmet meal that no one really wanted :).
We’re looking at every little thing we do for the holidays – if it’s something we all (or even one of us) enjoy or don’t want to do without, then we’ll continue that tradition. But it turns out so many DON’T fall into that category, so things are much simpler this year. And we’re all less stressed, and much happier, because of it.
Amy J says:
I always start my shopping early. Easier on the bank account to spread it out anyways. And this year we celebrated with one side of the family early (not by choice, but it is working out well!) One less thing to do on Christmas Day is fine with me, and we were more relaxed and had more fun than if everyone had to run off somewhere else.
I work in retail and at a major mall no less. My stress free holiday runs a little differently than most. I’ve made it my personal goal to help everyone around me have the most calming, pleasant experience possible. I find at least one thing about every single one of my customers that i like/enjoy and compliment them on it. Whether it be an outfit/purse/accessory I make sure to make them smile. I then genuinely ask how they are doing with all the holiday craziness and what I can personally do to make this trip as smooth and stress free as possible. It’s all about that personal connection! The more people I send on their way with a smiling face and less anxiety makes MY day even more stress free and enjoyable.
As for the shopping on my end, I have my spouse do all online shopping. Most websites already have free shipping and the ones who don’t usually have some type of % off or coupon that ends up making shipping free anyways. The only gifts I have to pick up are for her and our son. I work in the mall as I said so, I will shop during the slower periods of the day. If I don’t have a specific list of what it is I’m getting I make sure not to spend more then 10 minutes in a store as to avoid the overspending that comes with this time of year. I find great items and don’t have to worry about impulse buys.
In my family, we have decided to do Secret Santa to take the stress level wayyyy down. My extended family is spread across the country, so we do not get to see each other during Christmas. We pick one family member to draw names and then give them out. This way, we all get to connect, but by only purchasing one gift. Another great, stress-free bonus is that you can buy online and send presents via email, no shipping required!
This year I am doing away with plans And expectations. I’m enjoying my daughter and my husband. Our days will have an idea of what we want, but it won’t dictate what we do.
This is good for families with older kids or no kids or maybe just a baby like Annie..
My family sometimes will rent a cabin and go for Christmas. We’ll just go relax, watch movies, cook, play games, read, etc. You’re not home, so it doesn’t feel weird to not do presents – we just have the trip be the present! It’s really fun and my fondest Christmas memories.
Oh! Another idea – instead of wrapping presents or putting them in gift bags – get reusable $1 bags from target and put the presents in there! Less waste, less time, and it’s a present in and of itself! Love it.
We’ve cut back this year: one store bought present for each person and one hand made. Let’s not talk about the fact that I haven’t exactly started those homemade presents.
Carrie T says:
Here are the 10 ways I hope to make my holiday season heavy on the merry and light(er) on the stress:
1. Not spoiling my kids with an inordinate amount gifts. Baby Jesus only got 3 gifts for Christmas and it was His birthday, too. He turned out OK. It’s hard for my boys to argue that they deserve more than Jesus.
2. I don’t let my husband watch any television that we haven’t already DVR’d. That way we can skip right over the commercials where the wife buys her husband a luxury car for Christmas. Who does that?!
3. I avoid sales that start before even the “time to make the donuts” guy gets up. There’s not enough money that I would save to make it worth my while to skip even a few zzz’s.
4. If it takes me more than the duration of 3 Christmas songs on the radio to find a parking spot, I go back home.
5. Rather than spend a paycheck and a half on stamps, I did some maintenance on my holiday card list. If you haven’t sent me one in years (or you keep sending me one that features your cat)… NO CARD FOR YOU!
6. I decided that I don’t ALWAYS have to be politically correct. You’ll excuse me if I have the audacity to wish you a “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”. Feel free to wish me a Happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa or Festivus. I don’t celebrate any of those but I recognize it’s the thought that counts.
7. Each year we kick off the season with an agonizing photo session for the annual holiday card. No more. Thank you, Photoshop!
8. I’ve finally come to the realization that finding the perfect gift for my son’s kindergarten teacher isn’t going to make him her pet – especially since every parent has the same idea I did.
9. I’m OK with some lights being out on the tree. After all, how many hours of the day is the tree on? If lights on the tree are out, and there’s no one there to see them, are they really out?
10. Santa is the biggest symbol of the season – literally and figuratively. Like him, I’m going to put on a few pounds eating some holiday goodies. It’s just one of the certainties in life, like death and taxes. So if my belly shakes when I laugh, like a bowl full of jelly, so be it. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.
Happy Holidays…scratch that…MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERBODY! Ah, that felt good.
I’ve decided that the easiest way to have stress free holidays is to just remember that Holiday’s arent about gifts….It doesnt matter if I bought Tom, Dick or Harry a present, the holidays are about your family and being together….and it didnt hit me until I lost my parents and my son, so this year I bought the biggest friggen tree I could and Im going to relish in the happiness that tree glows and the hugs my two remaining children give.
At the beginning of the year I open a ‘Christmas Club’ at the bank…what that is is a savings account that you open in January, put small amounts in (cant take it out!) and in November they mail you a check with all the money you saved! That way, you wont be tempted to spend it till the holidays!
This year, I’m not decorating. We’re living in temporary housing (after moving for a new job) and all of our decor is in storage! Nothing to set up, nothing to put away means simple! (Unfortunately it also means a little depressing.)
To make this year a stress free year I scheduled a minor surgery on my ankle on the 23rd. I have to sit with my leg elevated with ice packs for 3 days. No hosting duties for me:)
Each family hosts one event…. Christmas Eve at sis-in-law’s, Christmas morning at sis’s, Christmas dinner here, Boxing day at cousin’s….
Still allow my or my husband’s parents to buy the meat we will cook and serve for Christmas dinner… even though we are in our late 30s.
Pretend we are too inept to cook a whole dinner, so our parents (who we love dearly) bring all side dishes and desserts, and our moms make the gravy when they arrive.
Big shopping crushes = Amazon and Etsy
Drawing names for all grownup gifts in both families… see above for gift venues.
Let the cousins wear one another out like mad hooligans so bedtime is a breeze.
Strategically plan career as teacher in order to have 2 weeks off.
Phaedra Harris says:
I am way done, but can’t stop myself from shopping. Just one more thing and one more thing…
The biggest stresser for me is shopping. Trying to find the perfect gift for everyone. This year, I’ve just let it go. Set a budget, I’m sticking to it (no choice, ha!).
The second biggest is doing the meal. Got rid of THAT stress by going to Mom’s!! HA! Of course, it means flying alone with 3 kids, but hey…. they are all finally at the age where they actually DO a lot of things for themselves! You know, like wiping their own butts, helping their siblings, NOT NEEDING 5-PT CARSEATS! YAHOO! Mommy’s got her People magazines already and we don’t leave for another 2 weeks!!
Basically, I’ve just stopped worrying about everything!
This will be the 3rd Christmas since my husband passed away! We have 2 girls one is 8 and my little one who was born 5 weeks after he passed is almost 3!
For me things have changed a lot and that includes the holidays. I focus on the little things in life and don’t worry about buying all these expensive gifts and the added stress that the holidays can bring. for me it is now about family and being together to enjoy each other, dont get me wrong i do still buy a few things for my children but nothing like before. I dont even worry about it or stress about that piece of the holidays at all!
Family is so important and we need to make the most of what time we have and enjoy everything (non materialistic) that we do have!
I also take my girls to the mall to the giving tree and we get a few things for kids that would otherwise have nothing on Christmas morning. It is a good lesson for my girls and giving back to someone who has nothing is the best feeling you could have!
we also just drive around blaring the Christmas tunes and looking at the lights…my kids love this and it is something they will always remember!
I just stop and take time to do the small little things that will mean so much to them later on…..things (gifts) wont last a lifetime like the memories we make that will live on in there hearts forever!
My nieces and nephew have so much stuff that we honestly don’t know what to even get them anymore. So, this year, I have decided to purchased 3 toys and have them each deliver to a child in need at a local shelter, etc. That way they can see how true and sad it is that a lot of kids don’t have anything.
Well, our traditions have always included new PJ’s on Christmas Eve, the one package they can open early. And baking cookies and treats for everyone.
This year, we’ll do that. And we’re also adding in going to the giving tree and having the kid’s each pick gifts for another child their own age, something that would have gone to them. I want them to know about giving. And about people who don’t have anything.
We’ve cut out buying for most adults in our family’s. We tend to buy only for grandparents and children. Grandparents don’t always need much, so the greatest gift we give them is the day we spend celebrating with them.
This year my ideas for having a stress-free holiday are a little different. My husband recently left me for his girlfriend of 9 months. I told myself that I will not let this define my holiday. I am being very positive for myself and my son. positive thoughts bring positive results!
Buying less and buying smarter are my two ways for a stress-free holiday. First my fiancee’s family (of 14+) picked names so that’s a LOT less presents and for my small family of 6 I’m doing stocking stuffers. This weekend I’m headed to the outlets with a round of online shopping to follow for last-minute items and that’s it. After this weekend everyone left will have to just suffer with a gift card (maybe to somewhere fun like Groupon).
A little less stress this year for Christmas- no in-laws staying with us. Though I admit I am going to miss them terribly, I am really looking forward to days off in my jammies! Becuase said in-laws are not coming, Christmas day will have 2 less hours of travel. We will not have to go the in-laws family’s celebration which means my girls will actually have time to play with their presents. I am really looking forward to relaxing and enjoying some quality family time doing things we want to do!
Emily Slate says:
Welp, since I’m having a baby Dec. 17th, I’m spreading the word that we will be doing lots of take-out and pre-made dining and wining over the holidays (since everyone will be at my house!). Oh, also lots of Chinet! They also sell plastic flatware this time of year that is actually colored to look like “silverware.” Now if only I could afford a live-in maid to keep my house in order! ; ) BTW, have I mentioned how addicted I am to TARGET!?
This year I’m living in Ohio while my husband and whole family are in Iowa, so my Christmas presents consist primarily of me coming home. I will supplement them but printing an awful Christmas card of my sister’s dogs for one sister, returning the Garmin I stole from my other sister, and crocheting “sweaters” for the family dogs because my family REALLY needs a laugh this year.
Hi there! Just curious who the winners were for this? Want to make sure I didn’t miss it…thanks and happy new year!
they were announced on http://www.momversation.com!