Drumroll… There’s seven weeks to Christmas. Seriously. Doesn’t that sound bizarre? Apparently I blinked some time between the last holiday season and now.
I think the best way to have a peace-filled, reason-focused Christmas is to do your holiday tasks a little at a time, not too early and not too late. Tasks on our holiday to-do list morph from merry to miserable when we’re busy to the brim.
Like doing all things one bite at a time, so too can we best savor the season when we do a few things to help us prepare well, a little at a time.
In the past, I’ve done a 12 weeks to a peaceful Christmas series. This year, I’m cutting it to six. And since we at SLM are holding our annual Home for the Holidays giveaway week right after Thanksgiving, I want to start Week Six today. Even though Christmas is still technically seven weeks away. Just go with me on this one. And remember, these tasks can still be applied to whatever holiday your family celebrates.
Ready for your first task?
Plan your gift giving
Seriously—it’s honestly not too early to plan your gift giving, especially if you prefer the homemade route. You’ll need time to knit that scarf or take those photos. Hopefully you’ve already planned your holiday budget, so you know exactly how much money you have for gifts.
You know how to buy gifts, so in this post, I’ll focus instead on a few of the deeper gift-giving issues most of us face.
1. Too many people on the list, not enough money.
A few years ago we gave up any notion that we’d give gifts to everyone in our extended family, even if they bless us with gifts. As much as I enjoy giving, it’s just not in our budget.
The key is communication, all more the reason to plan your gift giving now. Be honest about your gift-giving preferences in a way that resonates well with your extended family situation.
Keep the focus on you, not them. Let them know your family’s preferences (you don’t need to share details), and that you prefer X, Y, or Z. Then hear their ideas. If people still want to do a gift exchange, you could suggest drawing names, going homemade, or setting a price cap. And sticking to it.
2. A fear of too much stuff.
Yeah, me too… I don’t want a horde of gifts under our tree, especially poorly-made toys our children won’t play with in six months. But we’re only responsible for our own actions, so don’t fret over the possibility of Grandpa and Grandma going overboard with the gifts. That’s their choice, not yours.
However, you can share your preferences in a kind and grateful manner, such as only one toy per grandkid, nothing that requires batteries, or perhaps clothing and a book. You can’t make anybody do anything, so please don’t try. Simply express your preferences in gratitude, and move on.
3. A desire for too much stuff.
Maybe you like extravagant holidays, including the gifts. There’s not an across-the-board definition of “overboard” here—we all have different incomes and homes, so it’s not my place to say what you definitely should or shouldn’t do.
But I do recommend checking your heart. Make sure you’ve got giving planned in your holiday budget (either from your watch or your wallet). Ask yourself whether you truly do want something, or if Christmas is just an excuse to get something shiny.
And if you’re not sure of all your deeply seeded reasons, simply try a smaller Christmas this year, and see how it feels. Aim on a family-agreed limit. In our family, we do three gifts each for the kids (it changes annually for Kyle and me). Perhaps you could go homemade, or spend money on an experience instead.
If you don’t enjoy your small Christmas, you can always return to big and bountiful next year.
Remember your family’s purpose statement—refresh your memory of what gets you up in the morning. Those values don’t change during the glittery holiday season. Stay calm.
Personally, I think it’s great to celebrate a small Christmas.
What’s the hardest part about gift giving for your family? What are your solutions?