I loved Christmas as a kid, but it didn’t take very many Christmases as a grown-up to learn that adult Christmases require a lot of organization and planning. All that work can take the sparkle right out of your tinsel.
It was important to me not to let the work involved dull my enjoyment of Christmas. So years ago I made a list of Comfort and Joy Suckers and came up with a plan to limit the sucking.
Comfort and Joy Suckers:
Spending holiday time in crowded stores jockeying for position to pounce on “stuff”
Too many expenses in too few paychecks
Too little sleep due to too few elves sharing the workload
Too many tasks crammed into too little time
Impulse buys that are either too expensive or not right and which are a result of “needing” something to give and either settling or panicking
Determined not to give up the joy that Christmas had always brought me I decided ages ago that I would spread the workload, the expenses and the choosing of the perfect gift over the entire year.
Now, when someone I love casually mentions something they would like to have I am on it even if the conversation happens in February. I buy the item and write it in a notebook usually including a note about the cost so that I can track my spending. I tuck the receipt into the notebook. If I can’t immediately get to the store or if I have other expenses and would prefer to wait until a month with lower bills, I make a note reminding myself to purchase the item and a suggested time to buy it.
Normally, my shopping is done by early October. There are always incidentals that have to be purchased at holiday time, but they don’t break the bank because all I have purchased is already paid for long before even Black Friday rolls around.
When the kids were small I had a large closet where I stashed things as I bought them. As the kids became increasingly savvy I had to up my game. So, now I make sure I have a supply of Christmas wrap from the after-Christmas-sales and wrap as I purchase. I wait and add pretty bows right before the packages go under the tree and find this is enough to keep my Christmas spirit alive and well.
In these final days of July there are wrapped gifts hidden in multiple places in my house (The hiding places are also tracked by notations in my notebook). There will be some strategic shopping trips happening in the next six weeks or so. Then I will be ready to sit back and enjoy the holidays when they arrive.
As my age advances and my memory capacity retreats it isn’t uncommon for me to wonder about packages that I am giving to someone. A gift wrapped in February has an air of mystery to me long before December. The first year this happened I was nervous, but no more. I know I have purchased what I believe the receiver will like. I have kept notes along the way to make sure that the division of the budget has been fair. So, now I relax and enjoy even my memory lapses, teasing the kids, “I wonder what Santa brought you this year”.
Come Christmas I will be more jolly having steered clear of crowded malls. I will ring in the New Year with less debt. And I will spend more time celebrating the holiday traditions I truly enjoy with the people who mean the most to me.
Useful tips for a beautiful Christmas sent to you from the midst of a heatwave. My William Morris Project for the week @ Pancakes and French Fries.