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Calm Before Christmas

The holiday season starts the day after Halloween. November first is when it’s acceptable for retail stores to start playing Christmas music and Starbucks to reveal their holiday cups. While I am all for a 60 day holiday season, I absolutely hate the madness that is perpetuated by our society, pressuring us to act like crazed consumers for the last two months of the year. I put my trees up early, I listen to Christmas music for two months, and I drink egg nog like it’s going out of style, but I will not participate in the mall mania. So, here are some tips to avoid the hysteria of the holidays, if you would like to join me:

    1. Shop online. Make a list, open a bottle of wine, and then hop on Kippo.com (first), Amazon, or any other of the many websites that offer free, fast shipping. This will help you avoid long lines, dents in your car door, and general fits of rage and anxiety at the mall.
    2. Say no to things you don’t want to do. If you get invited to a cookie exchange, holiday cocktail hour, or dinner and you don’t want to go, DON’T GO. No one wants you there if you are going to be miserable. Make sure your calendar isn’t over booked and that you are only attending things that are meaningful to you. I even schedule nights at home, just so I know that I have some down time.
    3. Don’t over buy. It’s easy to talk yourself into overspending. You might think, “Well, this person has been so great, I’ll spend extra on them.” When the bill comes in January, you will regret it. People don’t expect million dollar presents. We put that pressure on ourselves. Some of the best gifts that I have received have been gifts that are practical or sentimental and thoughtful. Putting thought behind a gift, not dollars, can mean so much more.
    4. Ask yourself, “Is 20% worth it?” I realize I just said not to overspend, but on the flip side, is saving ten dollars worth standing in an hour line, in the middle of the night, while holding a shank in your hand worth the savings? If so, armour up. If not, take a deep breath and let your fingers do the fighting on the keyboard. I set a budget for each person. If what I am thinking of buying them doesn’t fit the budget, then I surf the web until something pops up. It always does.
    5. Be present.  I know this sounds sooooo Oprah Super Soul Sunday, but it’s true. I can’t tell you how many times I have been at a holiday party and my thoughts were consumed with what I had to do the next day or what I had to do that evening for a dinner or Christmas plans of my own. I missed out on building relationships, conversations I could have had, and time that I can never get back. Now if I am feeling overwhelmed as I am headed out, I take a deep breath (sometimes have a glass of wine), and I talk it through with my husband, sister, or mom really quickly and I usually make a list for the next day. Getting it out of my head and securely somewhere else means I won’t forget things and I free up space to be present. It’s always so much more fun.

So let’s make this the most merry, calm, Christmas ever. Cheers!

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