It's the official start of the busiest 3-4 weeks of nearly anyone's year. Everyone has his or her special tips for how to survive. For me the truth is...I don't just survive! I enjoy the holiday season for all it's worth.
1. I committed long long ago to never ever buy a Christmas gift or participate in a Christmas activity out of obligation. If it's not fun for me, I won't do it. This saves me from too many parties, and stressing out over a huge shopping lists. Don't get me wrong, many presents are still purchased for my loved one, but this is because I am excited to show my love through giving gifts. This goes for throwing a party, too.
2. Building off of tip #1, I rarely buy children gifts. I realize for many of you with kids, this is just not possible. I do not have kids yet. The mobs and shopping terrors commonly occur around toy departments, so I avoid them like the plague. Also, the way kids in our culture tear through presents, throwing them aside and looking for more to unwrap without a bit of gratitude is off putting to me. We have 9 nieces and nephews, and about five years ago we started a tradition of taking them to eat pizza and play arcade games while we are in California. They really look forward to it now, and we're giving them a long lasting memory rather than a toy that they will break or lose interest in. IMPORTANT NOTE: For those of you who do have kids, you too can give an experience rather than another toy. Think a trip to the zoo, or minature golf.
3. If I can avoid it, I will not buy mass-produced merchandise. Unless someone really wants something specific. This also aids in circumventing the shopping mobs. I much prefer to buy a gift for someone that they wouldn't have been able to get for themselves, whether it's a regional wine or, a trinket I picked up while overseas, or a special baked good.
4. I give consumables to people who already have more stuff than they know what to do with. Again, this may be something I baked. However, it could also be a photo calendar made on Shutterfly, a delicious piece of chocolate, a box of special oranges, tickets to see an event, or a great chapstick.
5. I relish not only our family traditions, but also little traditions I've made for myself. Things like ordering a peppermint mocha and walking slowly through a mall to look at all the decorations, reading a book while listening to George Winston's 'December' album, sewing a pair of PJ pants for Raj, drinking as much egg nog as I want, opening a bottle of red wine and watching holiday inn, or putting up my little brass Christmas tree.
6. I eat cheese. How amazing do some of these Martha Stewart cheese platters look? Yum!