Holiday Shopping Rules

Holiday Shopping Rules

I finished my Christmas shopping this weekend. I did break some of my holiday shopping rules so I thought I’d write them down for posterity’s sake!

Holiday Shopping Rules

  1. Be like Santa – make a list – I decide what I am going to buy each person and set a budget for each item. I have it all figured out before I hit the stores – the cat included! Shopping for a specific thing takes less time than “shopping”.
  2. I shop online whenever possible – if I know the brand, size etc, I let the magic elves at Amazon (or wherever) do the work for me.  The internet is a great place to do research, compare prices and ship where I want it.  I can also shop on my time and not be a slave to store hours.  I was ready to be out the door at 8 am on Saturday but had to wait till 9 for Best Buy to open.
  3. If I have to go to the store, I go early in the day. The early bird catches the worm and the shortest lines. I went out on Saturday morning and it was peaceful. Sunday afternoon was a mad house!
  4. I set a deadline and stick to it. No more shopping after X date.
  5. Resist the urge to buy “one more present”. This is often a side-effect of getting my shopping done early. I call it present-creep. This is the rule I keep breaking!  See rule #4
  6. I make many of the presents I give to co-workers or friends who can buy what they want.  The internet is full of great ideas for “mason jar gifts” – I’ve seen some very clever ones this year.  And the best part of making these kinds of gifts – you are at home.  You can still do the laundry, cook dinner or help with homework. (OK you may have to eat in front of the TV because the dining room table is covered with stuff but you are not our fighting lines and traffic).  If these are not food items, you can make them in June!  And it is a great way to get kids involved.
  7. Inventory my bags, bows, and paper before you go shopping. I keep generic tags and brown paper gift bags on hand that I can stamp or decorate for the season.  After a long day at work, I really don’t feel like stopping at the store for gift wrapping supplies.  Oh and I save bags from the previous year to reuse.
  8. I schedule a day of rest – no shopping or holiday activities – just rest! This is easier if I follow rule #4

Have you finished your shopping? Do you have any tips that make shopping easier and less stressful? Or maybe you are one of those people who love all the holiday shopping atmosphere. Share your thoughts on holiday shopping.

shopping rules




This weekend we got our tree and did our Christmas decorating. For many years I collected Santa Clauses – all sizes, shapes and colors.  I would usually buy a new Santa every Christmas.  I kept them out all year on shelves in the family room.  My kids thought it was kind of creepy.

On Sunday, I took most of my Santa’s to Goodwill.  It was time.  Part of simplifying.  I kept a few – the first Santa I got – a musical one.  A wooden folk art Santa which keeps me focused on my dream of living in the country some day.  A tall folk art style Santa that was a gift from a friend I’ve known for more than twenty years. A Santa in swim trunks which was a gift from a former boss who has since passed away.  My all-white ceramic Santa which matches the white on my baker’s rack bar.  And one small ceramic Santa that reminds me of a friend who does squirrel rescue.  Now as I walk past each Santa, I remember the special people behind each special Santa.

It was both liberating and bittersweet.  Getting a new Santa each year was a tradition. But you don’t need to keep a tradition alive if it no longer serves you or when it becomes an obligation rather than a joyful experience.  Holding on to the past just because “we always did it this way” or you are afraid of “upsetting the apple cart” won’t serve your overall happiness.

So this Christmas, I will be strengthening the traditions that bring me joy and releasing the one’s that bog me down.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all are enjoying a pleasant Thanksgiving with the emphasis on Thanks and giving!  I will be enjoying a quiet holiday – a rare 4 day weekend for me before work gets even crazier!

In lieu of a post today, I am sharing my Thanksgiving meal menu.


Rethink the Holiday Season

Rethink the Holiday Season

This week is Thanksgiving. It marks the beginning of the holiday season.

This Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for. Plus I’ve learned over the past months how to be more aware of the little blessings – the people, the moments, the simple pleasures that are part of real life – a good life – my life.

This year, we will have a quiet simple Thanksgiving – just the two of us. Yes we could join others for the turkey and trimmings but one of my focuses this year is to avoid “drama”. And sad to say, often the holidays involve “drama”. Family frictions fly. People drink to much, compare to much, stress too much and expect too much.

This time of year if full of “shoulds”. We should go to Moms. We should buy a gift for so and so. We should go to all those holiday parties. We should put up lights. We should have turkey. We should get that “deal” on Black Friday.

Maybe you shouldn’t! Maybe you can go to Mom’s for dessert but skip the meal. Maybe it is time to stop buying “obligation” gifts. Maybe you should cut back on the holiday decorations. Maybe you ought to skip a party or two. Maybe you should eat lasagna! Maybe you should stay home on Black Friday because the cost of the stress might outweigh the savings.

Maybe this is the year to focus on the meaning of the holidays and building experiences that bring peace and joy to your life.

Thank you for reading this blog and I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tis the season to be materialistic?

Tis the season to be materialistic?

Today I’d like to follow up on my earlier post this week on experiences vs material goods when it comes to happiness.

You can’t watch TV or go into a store without being reminded that the gift giving season is just around the corner. Maybe you already have a case of the “I wants” and I’m sure your children do.  There are tantalizing things on sale everywhere and even previews of “Black Friday” deals on the net.   I am not Scrooge or the Grinch.  I love giving gifts and carefully consider each one. But is there a downside to gift-giving?  Can we make the holidays more happy?

In an article published in the Global Mail, Psychotherapist Graham Music, of London, England and author of the book, The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality, argues that over-busy parents and out of control materialism results in  meaner and more self-absorbed children.  They lack empathy and are more concerned with what a person has than who a person is.  I don’t think that Music is off base here. Studies show that as  people become more materialistic, their relationships suffer. Think kids holed up in their rooms with computers all night and who look at their phones more than they look at their parents or siblings!

I am as guilty of this as the next guy.  We want our children to be happy so we get them what they want. The problem, as I pointed out, is that things bring only momentary happiness.  I would even go so far as to say that things drive people apart rather than bring them together.

So how do we tame the “thing monster”?  Give the gift of experiences.  I’m not saying go cold turkey and give no “thing” gifts but maybe consider some of this year’s gifts to be experiences.  If you are going to spend the money anyway, why not do something that might create more lasting happiness and promote connectedness to others?  Maybe an activity trip – like skiing or skating?  Or maybe a Mom/Daughter pedicure or spa day?  A day trip to a rock climbing wall or indoor skydiving venue or laser tag.

Thing gifts can be geared toward activities as well.  Board games that can be played by the entire family vs a computer game that only one person can play is another option.  Last year I bought myself a camera for Christmas and have used it to record visual reminders of the many wonderful experiences I had this year.

Instead of buying gifts for teachers and family members, how about making something – cookie mix in a mason jar, hand decorated picture frames or Christmas tree ornaments.  Yes this might be more work than running to the store and picking out some pre-made items but the lesson will last a life-time.

And in the long run, you might be happier too!