- Make a list, and create a shortcut to it on your desktop. A few years ago, I created a spreadsheet of everybody I buy gifts for. It takes some effort, but it’s worth it. Update and save it often so you can keep track of who and what you bought. I also keep a copy of the list from the previous year, so I can remember what worked or what I want to do different this year.
- Amazon is your friend. This you know, but did you know that their Black Friday sales are usually better than the stores, and many of them start Thanksgiving night? Case in point: I have 4 cashmere sweaters, and they were all bought on Amazon Black Friday sales. They’re even having “countdown sales” now. Forget camping out – just click it and have it delivered to your door! Better yet, you can create Wish Lists. Encourage people you buy for to create a public wish list, save it, and make one of your own now so you can grab those sales next week. Just keep an eye on delivery dates. I’m already ordering gifts from Amazon to ensure delivery, and usually don’t order from them after the first week of December. Yes, you have to plan, but it’s worth it.
- Do simple crafts for friends and coworkers. We tend to get in ruts with friends and coworkers, so break free and be creative. Again, it takes some planning and you probably want to start now, but there are plenty of simple crafts you can do that are quick, easy, and unique. One tip: glitter ball ornaments. I made 8 of them Sunday in less than 15 minutes. Another tip is paper clip angels. Go to Pinterest or Google “simple craft ideas” for tips on easy gifts you can make in very little time. Don’t be the person everybody expects hand lotion or candy from every year. Keep them guessing what you’ll come up with next!
- Utilize “gift memberships.” If you subscribe to a service like Netflix or anything else with a monthly membership, see if they’ll give you the option to gift a membership. Many of them do, so it’s a great opportunity to give family or friends a chance to try it for free for a month or so. Just be mindful of terms and conditions and, of course, be sure it’s something the person is interested in. You don’t want to be the one famous for gifting a subscription of “Guns and Ammo” to your friend that believes in tighter gun restrictions.
- Review your Christmas card list. Remember that the purpose of Christmas cards is to extend greetings to people you don’t buy gifts for or see on a regular basis. Also, fewer people are mailing them these days. Keep track of who you’re receiving cards from, and only send to those people. It’s a waste of time, effort, and postage to send out 50 cards every year if you only receive 20. Of course it’s worth it to keep sending that card to a great aunt in a nursing home who loves them, but my point is not to be held hostage to card writing, especially if the recipients don’t respond or seem to care. And don’t take it personally if somebody quits sending you cards, either. People are busy these days, and it seems that card-writing is going as out of style as thank you notes and panty hose. On that note:
- Post the annual “holiday letter” on a blog. There are still people that believe in it, and going digital is ok. Save yourself the trouble of photo cards and photocopying your 5 page letter of the year’s events by creating a free Wordpress account, posting it online, and putting the link in your Christmas cards. Better yet, set it up now and email it to people if you have their address, or get some business cards printed at VistaPrint with the blog name and link, and put those in your cards instead. That way, people can visit and bookmark the site if they want to see your news and pictures, and you didn’t go to time and trouble to print and copy a letter that they’ll lose or throw away by January 10. Who knows? You may enjoy blogging and decide to keep it up daily instead of annually.
- Do “pot luck” meals. Cooking is a job and while there are people who love it, they could usually use a helping hand. Assign every member attending dinners to bring a dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day dinners. Or better yet:
- Go non-traditional for one of the above. My family usually does steak dinners for Christmas Eve. It worked out especially well 2 years ago, when I won just enough Omaha Steaks for everybody to have one. I also do a Friday after Thanksgiving pot of crock pot chili quite often.
- Take off the Monday after Thanksgiving. Everybody fights for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off. If your place of employment isn’t progressive enough to give you that day yet, go for the Monday after instead. I’ve done this for a few years now, and it’s super easy to get a lot done that day, because everybody is going back to work. If you have the time to do it, take the Tuesday after Thanksgiving off too, to give yourself a nice, long weekend and time to get a lot done with few crowds getting in your way.
- Schedule “you” time. It’s easy to get bogged down in shopping and events this time of year. It’s perfectly acceptable to decline an invitation or to purposely block out time for doing nothing but what you want to do, and you don’t owe anybody an explanation for it. You have to take care of yourself, because you’re no good to anybody else if you burn yourself out or worse yet, get hurt or sick. Take time to slow down. It’s ok. If anybody gets mad about it trust me; they’ll get over it.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.