It’s officially the new year, and all of our Christmas decorations have been put away for the year as everyone starts working (or, by this point, giving up on) their new year’s resolutions.
But before we finish packing away the holiday until next winter, I’d like to talk about it bit.
I don’t know about you, but the holidays are stressful for me. It was fun as a kid, but as an adult there’s a whole lot of questions to be asked each season:
- who should I buy for?
- how much should I spend on each person?
- what should I ask for? As an adult I can generally purchase any small item that I want and the big things I’m saving up for are much more expensive than what I could ask for from someone else. But asking for cash toward those big goals seems crass.
- what should I get for other adults, since they’re generally in the same boat?
- how do I deal with the discomfort from one person spending obviously a lot more than another?
There’s so much focus on the presents, shopping for said presents, and cleaning up afterward that it’s hard to really enjoy the season of spending time with those I care about.
This year I felt both ends of the discomfort spectrum; on one hand, I got some small things from one person that I don’t need, or even necessarily want, but would feel guilty giving away. So they’ll sit around and gather dust. On the other hand, The Geek’s parents were ridiculously generous and gave their kids and me an iPad mini, but I hadn’t realized I was supposed to buy them anything. So the present is very functional and appreciated, but I feel tension since they spent so much money on me.
I’d thought before that maybe it was just me that is frustrated by how we do holidays since I’ve had some unfortunate experiences around gift giving, but I’m noticing that there’s a growing conversation about how we can change to have a simpler, less stressful Christmas that doesn’t suck the life out of you by the middle of December.
Focus on experiences rather than gifts and spending time catching up with friends and family. My absolute favorite adult Christmas was the year that my mom, grandma, and sisters and I made our traditional family cookies and decorated them together. It was a little cramped, but very fun, and the strongest Christmas memory I have from recent years.
If there are some family members that it’s hard to keep up a conversation with, bringing an activity or small present related to their interests can help get a conversation started.
(What can I say, I routinely bring a craft project, question, or idea to my mom when I visit my parents to avoid the topic of our divergent politics and religion. It’s easy, but it works!)
Try a gift swap, so that you’re focusing on giving a couple of well thought out presents to one person, rather than trying to buy for everyone. You can try giving gifts to just your nieces and nephews or friends’ kids. Having a simpler Christmas doesn’t mean that there has to be no presents at all, it’s all about finding a balance.
To keep this post from getting too long, I’m going to wait until next week to give you some ideas of what to do for inexpensive but still meaningful presents, and I’ll also post a list of my favorite blog posts on the topic if you want to read more.
Have you found any ways to make your Christmas less stressful? What are your favorite experiences you’ve had around the holiday?