Holidays are meant to be a time of joy, reflection, and celebration with family and friends. Too often, however, they turn into a nightmare frenzy of running around from one store to another, shopping for the best deal while battling crowds of other harried consumers. Never mind that it seems that nothing at the mall is really personally thoughtful. Try some of our tips to help you make your holidays a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable!
- Think outside the box when it comes to gifts. Being creative makes it fun, and more fun often equates to less stress.
- Start a new holiday tradition. Especially for those without small children (who might not grasp the concept), make a memory instead of buying presents. Some people choose to go on a vacation, buy tickets for a special event, or splurge on dressing up for dinner at a special restaurant. Think about how you can provide experiences instead of things for your friends and family.
If you know how, crochet or knit a long, thin, fashionable scarf in a silky or textured yarn in the favorite colors for each of the special women in your life. Scarves are a relatively simple and quick way to create unique gifts with a homemade touch, and crocheting and knitting are stress-relievers on their own.
How about a gift subscription of one month or more to Netflix? That way, you can pass on the gift of stress-free entertainment that outlasts the holiday season and goes straight through the “blahs” of winter. With a few clicks of a button, you can print out the gift certificate and put it in a basket with some popcorn and healthy oil enjoy with the movies. For those concerned with even lower fat content, skip the oil and fill the basket with some spices like Cajun, dill, or cumin or popcorn seasonings and include a fine-mist spritzer and handwritten instructions for your favorite popcorn recipe. Be sure to note that, if not using oil, the popcorn needs to be spritzed with water in order for the spices to stick.
- Speaking of recipes, how about whipping up a few extra batches of your favorite cookies or other special treats? They make great gifts, wrapped in colorful plastic wrap with a ribbon or in a holiday cookie tin. Or try putting them in something a little unusual like a vintage covered candy dish for your famous homemade fudge or that unusual cookie jar you found at a yard sale or on eBay® last summer. Just to be prudent, if you don’t know if the pottery is food-safe, wrap the treats in wax paper, foil, or plastic first and use the dish as a gift box.
- Going vintage is not only chic, it’s environmentally savvy. You can often find unique and inexpensive decorative items at yard sales, flea markets, consignment shops, antique stores, and eBay®. Don’t worry about matching a collection or if the receiver doesn’t have any specific collectibles. Just pick something that generally matches their taste (i.e., trendy, retro, classic) and/or their color scheme. Some ideas? How about salt and pepper shakers, teapots, fishing lures, Matchbox® cars, milk glass, sugar and creamer sets, or candle holders? Antique tools, pieces of machinery, or even decoys and fishing gear can make an intriguing piece of artwork if you have a bit of skill with woodworking and can mount it on a nice piece of finished wood. Enjoy your time shopping for a special item with a personal touch rather than feeling stress about finding the “perfect” gift at the mall.
- Do you have some personal recipes that are constantly requested at every family picnic or potluck dinner with friends? You can type them up (or write them if you have legible handwriting), print out batches on holiday paper, and take them to a local copy center to have them spiral bound and laminated while you wait. These make especially great gifts for friends and family if you’ve recently moved away.
- If you have a friend or family member who is into health and fitness, spring for a month’s fees at their gym and a gift certificate to their favorite health food store, and put them in a stylish new gym bag. Or commit to a year’s worth of being their walking companion; you can easily personalize and print out a snazzy certificate from a template and enclose it in a holiday card. Your friendship will receive a welcome hour or so each week, and you’ll be healthier for it too!
- Do you often share a coffee or tea with a friend, neighbor, or family member? Indulge them with a bag of gourmet coffee or box of specialty teas and flavored syrup. There are some great, inexpensive sugar-free versions of these syrups, too.
- If you are looking for the perfect piece of jewelry for someone special, check out FashionJewelry.com. They have gorgeous pieces that are truly unique, so you will be able to find something perfect for every person on your list.
- For the pet lovers on your list, take a look at PurrfectPost.com or SoftPaws.com. Both have good quality pet products, some of which can only be found there.
- We hope you enjoy your holidays, and remember, the best gift you can give anyone (including yourself) is a healthy, less stressed lifestyle.