How did we get here already? December seems to have crept up so fast this year!
On the bright side we have an extra week this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some of you are already celebrated Hanukkah and I hope you are enjoyed the festival of light with your families. Some of you are full speed ahead on all this holiday stuff and some of us are like, how and when am I going to do it all? Does this seem fitting?
Gah I can so relate!
I’m really trying to change and do less. Worry less too and honestly say screw a lot of stuff I used to kill myself doing each Christmas. I thought I’d touch on a few things here that we can do to make the holidays easier. Sometimes we just have to change things up and think out of the box to take the stress off. Change can be good and so can saying no. Maybe you’ve already thought about doing this. Good for you. Here’s a few things to think on and hopefully give you more time for what matters this season and less stress.
- Have a ‘house’ wrapping paper and ribbon. You’ve seen specialty stores do this, why not us? If you find a lovely paper you can use all year, and a ribbon or cord, make it your brand and use it and special enclosure card all year long. Takes the waste out of holiday wrap and everything has a pretty uniform look to it. I personally have a Kate Spade green speckled wrap I love and also a faux bois wood print. I use these two with black string I bought on a big ball from Switzerland that has lasted 2 years now and cost 6 Euros! It makes everything look good and I don’t need drawers full of paper and ribbons. When it comes to our own kids I try to use different kinds of wrap like the comics, newspaper and even maps, fabric and magazine pages. It’s fun to see what you can use and last year we decided to use Sharpies to creatively write “to and from” on the gift boxes when we ran out of tags and liked it better. Less waste too. Try it. I also used left over letter stickers and put their names initial on some boxes.
- Maybe forgo gifts for friends, family, and instead do something together. I love special holiday gatherings with friends and groups, but who really needs another candle, ornament, etc? We simply buy too much at the holiday season and a lot of it ends up in donation bags. This year, make a pact to not purchase anything with your group that gathers. Instead treat yourselves to a meal out, cocktails night or baking cookies or a spa together during this hectic season. How about a brunch or lunch where everyone brings something to share and also gives $20 or more to go to a charity that you pool together? (One I really like and that can use so much help this year is NextDoor Solutions. Gift cards are hugely appreciated there.)
- If you have to shop, buy gifts in multiples. Find a great gift and buy it for all the women/men on your list. A few years back my friend Jen bought all her girlfriends the coolest book-Frederick Fekkai’s Year of Beauty. It was filled with recipes and beauty tips and seasonal ideas to use throughout the year. I loved it. Last year I bought Ugg slippers for all the men- dad, sons and husband. It was super appreciated and easy. Make your life simpler. For many years I got all the teenagers pjs and a gift card. That seemed to be a hit. Last year I did sweats and a gift card. Just as easy and I didn’t ask for lists. Seems like most teens appreciate spending money and sweats. Older folks always appreciate food and things that bring warmth. Blankets and See’s Candy were always a hit with my grandma.
- I’m still enjoying sending cards. I feel like you either do or not. I love getting them too so I keep sending. However there are card options…Some people do online cards and that is easier and greener. Others send them in the New Year, Valentine’s Day and even at Easter. That can take the pressure off. Do your own thing I say. All is appreciated nowadays! I have now used the same company- San Francisco’s Minted for 6 years and still happy. Nice part is they have my addresses on file, and do the addressing for free! That has saved me a LOT of time. I appreciate that each year they send me a generous discount for being a loyal customer. If you are tired of cards, don’t feel the obligation. It’s about what brings you joy this time of year.
- Instead of gifting someone who has everything another gift, or another gift for the kids, think of those who would appreciate a little love and attention at this time of year. Charities are great but also, think closer to home. Who lives in your neighborhood? Are there elderly folks or a single mom or dad, or someone who is ill? I am always super aware of those living alone in my neighborhood. How about your loyal mail person or UPS guy, your kid’s tutor, your cleaning people? It is nice to brighten someone’s holiday who doesn’t expect it. Bake multiples of holiday bread (or buy it), grab a bunch of Starbuck’s cards, bottles of local wine, cookies, a warm throws, etc. Have these on hand and make little bundles for those who might need a little holiday cheer, or who you appreciate. If it’s a neighbor, stop by and say hi, or leave it on the door. The best part of this season is bringing unexpected joy.
- Simplify your decor. Just because you have 16 boxes of holiday decor doesn’t mean you need to use them all. In the last few years, we have slowly used less and less each year and I like it better. Right now we are in a temporary rental and I am using even less. A nice wreath on the door, my favorite ornaments, a few sprigs of green plus our stockings seems simple and lovely. Going with a few branches clipped from your juniper bushes or from the bottom of your tree feels very Californian and fresh. I have to say I like fresh better than glitzy. I also like pomegranates, and anything collected outdoors like pinecones.
- Forgo the whole thing and go on vacation or a special trip. I know a family that goes to Hawaii and doesn’t put up a tree and just does one present for each.
- Give up a day of shopping and volunteer to work or help instead at a nearby shelter or food pantry and you’ll find a lot more meaning in the holiday. If you cannot find a place to volunteer, take your family or go yourself and shop for others and then deliver it. Sacred Heart Charities is one of the very best locally and it’s easy to drop off things in their drive through drop-off. Check their website to see what they are needing for the holidays.
- Don’t let big holiday meals stress you out. It doesn’t have to alwasy be the same. Order out for everyone or meet up in a local restaurant that has a special holiday menu. Some families have the tradition to go to a particular place, like Chinese food. One family I know brings a picnic to the beach with sandwiches. There are also so many places to order your Christmas dinner now like Whole Foods and most groceries as well as restaurants, if you prefer to be at home.
- Invite friends over, but reduce expectations. Instead of a holiday dinner have an ‘Open House’ with heavy appetizers and wine only. Another cute invite is to come for ‘Cookies and Cocktails.’ The idea is to have a spot to gather and connect, with friends, neighbors or family. The greatest gift you can give is opening your home to others for a festive gathering. Who doesn’t love a night out?
- Find time each day during this season to just enjoy and be in the moment. Whether it is just putting your feet up with a cup of tea by the tree, watching a holiday classic by the fire, listening to holiday tunes while you wrap, meeting a friend for a little cappuccino and a winter walk, or taking a drive to see the holiday lights, make it happen. It’s the little things that make the holiday time special.
Happy Holidays and may you find joy and cherish the small things this time of year.