What is the holiday season really about? Is it about stressing over throwing the perfect party and making handmade gifts, or is it about enjoying time with friends and family? A few years back, I decided to stop stressing and start savoring. (And this year, there’s added reason to lower expectations because my husband just had back surgery and will be out-of-commission for all of December. Yikes!) Here are my favorite ways to let myself off the hook during the holidays.
1. Buy gift cards and use Amazon Prime. Like, a lot.
Rather than trying to come up with creative, handmade gifts for all of your kids’ teachers, buy them a $10 gift card from Starbucks and call it a day. (And honestly, that’s what they really want anyway, right?) That’s what I did this year, and let me tell you how easy it was. I was at Walmart doing my grocery shopping. And then, I saw 3-packs of Starbucks gift cards and put 2 of them in my cart. Bam. Done. Oh, and I’m giving the same thing to all our babysitters. Done. Easy. No stress.
On the same note, I’m sending money or gift cards to all my nieces and nephews this year. My sister told me she wants her girls to have experiences over toys this year, so I just wrote my sister a check to put toward a zoo pass. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Of course, if you can do homemade and personal gifts, that’s great and more power to you! But if you can’t (like I can’t this year), who cares? Just do what you can and be proud of it.
2. Send a digital holiday card.
I used to stress about getting the perfect holiday card, and sending it to everyone I knew. Former teachers, my parents’ friends, the pediatrician, my old personal trainer. But then, I asked myself, Who really cares about getting these cards, and would they be fine just seeing it on Facebook? So now, as a rule, I only send holiday cards to family and people not on Facebook. (Literally, I only order 30 cards.) For the rest, I simply post the card digitally on my Facebook wall, usually on Christmas Eve. Not only does it save money on cards and postage, but it also saves the time I’d spend addressing them. Bam! Win!
3. Set up a used toy swap with your friends.
Each year, everyone in our MOPS group brings in their kids’ old toys. We put them in a big room. And then we all go in and pick “new” (used) toys to take home. It’s awesome! It’s like Christmas shopping for free. Get a group of friends together, and do the same! (Of course, make sure the kids aren’t there. And maybe adding some wine would be fun too. Wink.)
4. Put out only your favorite holiday ornaments and decor.
We used to have 8 storage boxes of Christmas stuff, but a lot of it was cheesy, cheap, corny decor that I’d had since we first got married, and I just plain didn’t like it anymore. And so, this summer (when I went through a week of crazy organizational and purging mania), I went through each and every Christmas box, took everything out, and put back into the box only what I loved. (Did you hear that? Only stuff I LOVE didn’t get tossed or donated.) We now have only 4 storage boxes, and since it’s all stuff I love and that makes me happy, decorating this year was so much easier, hassle-free and fun!
If you don’t love it, don’t put it out! Using only your very favorite decor and ornaments not only simplifies your home and makes it more beautiful to you, but it also saves wasted time putting unwanted decor up and then taking it down.
5. Schedule a date night shopping spree and be done with your holiday shopping for your hubby.
Each holiday season, my husband and I have a tradition that we love. We get a sitter and go to the mall together. We each have $100 cash, and then, we split up and buy Christmas gifts for each other, using only that $100. It’s so fun to see what the other comes up with, and I love that you almost have to be more creative because you end up getting a lot of little gifts that are personal and thoughtful. It’s easy and no-pressure. And of course, pair it with a nice dinner, and you also get double duty with a date night!
What are your favorite no-pressure holiday strategies and ideas? Leave yours in the comments section.