Take the Stress Out of Christmas Giving!

The countdown is on only one month till Christmas!

Present shopping would have to be one of the most stressful aspects of the Christmas holiday! There are so many to buy; we don't have enough money; we forget people; the children's toys cost a fortune, and more than anything we don't have time to do all this. And we hate crowds! And when do we have time to send out cards? Other people seem to make time and that adds to our guilt!

So what to do? Well, try doing your christmas shopping for next year at the January sales! Just remember where you hid them! If you didn't do that, write your list now and put it in a computer if you have one, or buy a christmas present book and list what you give people each year. If someone gives you a present and you forgot them - you can add them to this list to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Then try bulk buying! Find a great book that you think will help people or that they will enjoy and buy five of them! From time to time I do this for my friends. It saves me searching time and they usually love the book. Or perhaps there's a useful kitchen gadget you discovered during the year that others would love.

If you are into cooking christmas presents, buy the ingredients this week. And start planning what you will make tonight! You'll need jars, cloth, and all those little fiddely bits.

If money is a problem, perhaps you can make presents that embody your feelings or love. These often are the most treasured gifts. Write a letter telling them how you feel about them; all the things they did for you for which you are grateful; happy moments you remember with them. Or give them a magic moment book - a blank book into which you put pictures or momentos or write details of magic moments in your life, their life, family life -- anything that will be meaningful for them.

Think of giving someone a years free cleaning or ironing -- you either pay for someone else or you offer to do it for them. Or give them a card that says 'This card is valid for ......' and insert anything that they would value. That you will cook every Wednesday and Friday for the year; or come home from work early three nights a week; or wash their car; or take out the garbage; or clean the dog; or go shopping; or smile more often; or hug more often; not watch TV; or take them out to dinner once a week. There are a million things you can do for people that cost nothing but thought, love, time and energy. These are real gifts!

Then there's Christmas cards. Make sure that you have a Christmas card list so you can add all the people who sent you cards this year and you didn't! Or send new year cards to be different - this gives you time to write them in your holidays! Or you could save the trees and just phone people and tell that that this is their personal Christmas card! It's the contact and thought that counts - not the card.

Have a party and tell all your friends that this is your Christmas card to them! That idea is my favorite!

People are sending Christmas emails instead of cards. I don't know how well they are received - after all, you can't hang a colorful email in your sitting room! But I figure if you send an email that is full of news and updates it creates more of a connection than a card that says.... to John from Sarah.

Cards that are made of a picture of you, your family or new house are often more interesting (and cheaper) - they allow others to catch up visually. Perhaps that would be a good present - send a small photo album of interesting shots of things you have done during the year. Or a copy of a video you taped specially for them.

Sometimes a letter rather than a card is appreciated more because there's more 'contact' - people feel closer to you than a card saying 'Hi, Happy Christmas'

Either way, Christmas is about connecting our hearts -- to ourselves and others. A true connection not just a cursory -- 'oh its time to send a card again' or 'give a present' -- the real gift is one of yourself, your time, your life. Remember that and be creative this Christmas!!


Amanda Gore

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