Last week I spoke to a group of women at a Christmas event. I started out by asking them who LOVED Christmas and a few of them raised their hand. Then I asked which of them felt like Christmas really isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. More than half of the hands went up! I’m not even sure that some of them didn’t raise their hand a second time when they realized it would be okay to admit the truth.
As for me, the reality is I love Christmas but “making it happen” at our house can be overwhelming. I don’t mean for it to be but regardless of when I start I seem to get to the week before Christmas in a somewhat disorganized state. And now that I know that I’m not alone I’ve decided to share some of the tips that keep me from completely going off the deep end.
Choose what’s most important to YOU! – Is it the tree, the decorations, the cookies, doing kind things for others? Whatever it is, focus on what’s important for you and let the rest go. It’s okay. REALLY. The world won’t stop spinning.
Baking – Just say no! Find a good bakery or a friend who LOVES to bake. Your waistline will thank you for not consuming mass quantities of cookie dough (or is that just me?)
The Tree – The tree is important to me. Don’t mess with my tree! My husband likes the tree, too, but he’d be fine if we just put lights on it – no decorations. So, if you want a tree with no décor other than the lights, go for it!
Decorations – Come on, people, I’ve got a tree! I put up our basement family room decorations in early November. I should have done the whole house then because I’m not so sure the rest will get done. Did I mention I’ve got a tree?
Christmas Cards – This idea won’t be much help this year but you’ll love me next year. Create a database on your computer and use it to either print directly to the envelopes or create mailing labels. And hey, if they happen to be Valentine’s cards so be it.
Presents – Personally, I’m a huge fan of online ordering. And if you’re looking for ideas I’ve got some for you at the end of this post . . . because I love you.
Gift Wrapping – I read once that women care more about the wrapping than the gift and men care more about the gift than the wrapping (a broad generalization I know, so adapt to your own gift recipients.) All I’m saying is spend your time accordingly.
Christmas Kindness – It seems that people pick up the pace on doing kind things for others at Christmas. I love it! I encourage it. But, I don’t JUST encourage it at Christmas. If you’re riddled with guilt because you don’t have time for serving food at the homeless shelter or visiting the residents at the nursing home, sign up for a shift in January. It’ll still be appreciated and needed then.
Entertaining – Get ready to gasp and sputter! Here’s my rule of thumb whether it’s for Christmas Dinner or a party for your friends. If, at the end of the evening all of the dishes won’t fit in one dishwasher load, use paper. There are some beautiful paper plates out there. I know it’s not ecologically friendly, but you don’t need to use paper every day; just on the days you need to save your sanity, your back, and your hands.
Remember the Reason – I think it’s important to remember the reason for all of this in the first place. It’s the birthday of the King of kings! In light of that I try to make it a point not to over crowd my days with Christmas preparation to the point where I can’t sit down and spend some time with Jesus each day. What a great gift God has given us when he made it possible for us to spend time with him whenever we’d like. Let’s not forget to open his gift to us!
Okay, here’s the promised list for last minute gift ideas. Parts of the list may seem rather sexist, such as kitchen items for women and tools for men. I’m sorry. It’s just an easy way to divide them. Feel free to switch things up for the people in your life.
For Men (because we all know they are the most challenging):
- Hand warmer
- External Battery Charger for cell phones
- Pocket Reference Guide – 860 pages of information that a guy is going to need sooner or later. (John is getting this in his stocking – shhh . . . )
- 6 in 1 Key-Ring Multi-function tool – I haven’t tried this so I don’t know how well it works but it looks like a cool stocking-stuffer to me.
- Gloves – golf, winter, or baseball – you decide.
- Golf balls
- Tickets to a Sporting Event
- Concert Tickets
- Gift Certificate to their favorite store
- Framed photo that you know is special to the recipient. (AKA Grandchildren)
- Gorilla Tripod for DSLR’s (if they happen to like photography)
- Socks – Did you know that if you buy a pair of socks at Clarks they’ll replace them for FREE when they are worn out?
- Magazine Subscription
- Hat (this was my husband’s suggestion but you’d need to know the person well to know their style.)
- A heart-felt letter from a child (This idea was giving to me from a grandpa.)
- Create a book of special family stories or memories
- Winter Scarf
- Coupon for a special date – between a husband and wife or grandpa and grandchild. (this idea was also given to me by a grandpa.)
- Money Clip
- Lounge Wear/Pajamas
- Lightly Scented Candle (my new favorite is this one which comes in a variety of sizes and price ranges.)
- Tickets to a play or concert
- Apple Peeler/Corer (I only use mine about twice a year, but when I do, it’s golden!)
- Anything for the kitchen (Especially if they’ve been married more than ten years.)
- Oven Gloves
- Specialty Olive Oils and/or Balsamic Vinegars
- Nice Lotion – “Yes” to Carrots” is my new favorite. It’s amazing and not too expensive!
- Their OWN tool kit – not to be shared – and if the tools should happen to be pink that would be okay with me (but not necessarily every woman in your life.)
- Your recipe file printed out and put in a notebook
- Massage Gift Certificate
- Your Favorite Devotional – Here’s one of mine
- CD’s (probably best for the over 60 crowd.)
- Bath Bomb
- Salt or Sugar Scrub for hands and feet (I love the one Norwex makes and there are several homemade ones on Esty)
- Make-up for teens
- Socks – I love, love, love the Smart Wool Socks even though I generally steer away from anything wool.
- Leather touch-screen gloves (Knowing the correct size is key for this gift.)
- Journal – My daughter-in-law has an Etsy site full of journals made from repurposed materials, and of course, there are all kinds of options in the stores.
- Make-Up Brush Set
- RFID Credit Card Holder – I LOVE mine!
- Pink Swiss Army Knife – again, not every woman loves pink.
- Westcott ExtremEdge Adjustable Tension Titanium Bonded 8” Scissors – I labeled mine with my name so they wouldn’t run off!
- REI Silk Long Underwear
- Personalized Note Cards
- A Pretty Frame
- Kindle Reader – I cannot even tell you how much I LOVE mine!
- Experience Gifts: a Zoo Membership, Disney World Pass, Children’s Museum, Children’s Theater, etc.
- Gift Cards: Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks
- Movie night package – Popcorn, DVD, and Candy or Gift Cards to a local theater and maybe money for a babysitter.
- Throw blanket or Snuggie (I’m not a huge fan of Snuggies but I hear some people love them.)
- Harry and David Pears or Tower of Treats We got three towers last year and loved EVERY SINGLE ONE! They even have a Gluten-Free Tower! Really, anything from Harry and David is delicious. They also have a fruit of the month club with different plans for the “difficult to buy for grandparents.”
- See’s Candies (Although my personal favorite chocolates are from the Red Wing Confectionery, but I’m not sure they do mail order.)
- Caramel Corn – The BEST I’ve ever had came from Georgetown Valley Candy Company. It’s amazing!
- Honeybaked Ham – a little pricey but extremely delicious!
- Wolferman’s Gourmet Baked Goods My grandma would always take me to Wolferman’s when I’d visit her in Kansas City. They make some pretty tasty stuff.
- Pre-made Freezer Meals – Single (or double servings) prepared by you for your parents, grandparents, or singles.
- What A Difference A Day Makes Wall Plaque – Filled with your family’s important dates.
- Milk Crack Pie Mix – I’ve never had this pie from the NYC based Momofuku Milk Bar but I hear it lives up to it’s name. Now you can make it yourself at home by simply adding a few fresh ingredients.
- Garden Tools
- Microwavable Heating Pad – I like this one but there are plenty to choose from.
- Tile – for your friends who tend to lose things.
Classics for kids:
- Discovery Toys Measure-Up Cups
- Fisher-Price See and Say
- Fisher-Price Corn Popper – because every mother loves that popping sound!
- Duplos or Legos (I mean really, they’re a classic)
- Discovery Toy Giant Pegboard – There are loads of things you can do with this updated classic.
- John Deere Toys – There are more than you can imagine!
- Paint Spinner – I thought these were amazing when I was a kid!
- Craft Loom – There’s even one that makes bracelets!
- Lincoln logs
- Art Supply Box – You can either buy something like this or make your own version filled with age appropriate art supplies.
- Spirograph – HOURS of fun! And Travel Spirograph is great for car trips!
- Slinky – Again, hours of fun . . . until it gets bent out of shape.
- Discovery Toys Marble Works – I’ve heard dads like to play with this, too.
- Disney Princess Enchanted Cupcake Party
- Chutes and Ladders
- Bananagrams (older kids or adults)
- Rummikub – fun for kids and adults!
- Apples to Apples or Apples to Apples Jr.
- Sleds (if you live somewhere that gets snow.)
- Matchbox Cars
- Magnetic Rail Twirler
- Discovery Toys Playful Patterns – We have an older version of this great educational toy that I saved for the grandchildren.
- Bop-it – You’ll probably want to send the kids to a different room to play this, but you might end up playing it yourself when they aren’t looking.
- Book – Like candy for the brain
Whatever you buy for your family and friends, however you serve up the food or the fun, I pray that your Christmas will be relaxed and stress-free. In the words of Patsy Clairmont, “Let’s make good choices, pace ourselves, listen to our bodies, establish healthy boundaries, and soak up a fresh outlook.”