Easy Homemade Christmas Gifts

Last week, we talked about why it’s worth trying to make Christmas easier and less stressful, and I loved hearing examples in the comments of how you’ve gotten your holiday to run smoother.

This week, let’s talk about some of the nitty gritty: presents. Like I said last week, this isn’t about going cold turkey and not giving anything or celebrating, but about finding a balance that works within time and budget restrictions, so you can have the best holiday (however you define “best”).

Here are a few of my favorite inexpensive things to give, and I’d love to hear more ideas from you in the comments!
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2013 Idea: Make Christmas Simpler and Less Stressful

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.

With a small amount of personal experience and what I’ve gathered from reading lots of blogs, here’s the some advice for an easier Christmas:
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Observations of a Retail Archeologist

I’ve learned quite a bit about myself while working retail – how I act when I’m thrown together to work with random people (hint: fairly awkward), what some of my pet peeves are, etc. But one of the most interesting things? Observing customers and their behavior.

Sometimes I feel like an anthropologist or archeologist, depending on whether I’m looking at a customer’s behavior or the results of their shopping, respectively.

At times, I can make sense of actions. Exhibit A, the simple unfold and crumple:
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So This is Why I Shouldn’t Drink Around Family

(Six months later, I’ve finally changed “don’t” to “shouldn’t”, because, let’s be realistic here, what I should do versus what I actually do can be very different things)

I’m a fairly quiet person. I don’t generally consider myself shy (as in, afraid of talking) with one notable exception: when I really, really want someone to like me and/or be impressed with me. This is why, no joke, I’m fairly certain that The Geek didn’t really know what my personality was like before we started dating. (Apparently a smart, nerdy girl that plays video games and listens intently to him when he speaks was good enough.)

Since I don’t see his family a ton, they’re still definitely in this “if I don’t say anything they can’t think I’m stupid or incompetent, just shy” phase with them, which I realize logically is ridiculous but can’t quite seem to get over.  Continue reading

Thankful and Content

So it’s that time of year again. The time when we all share what we’re thankful for, just before writing out our Christmas wishlist. I am thankful, but every year it seems like more and more that thankfulness lends itself to being content, and having a very short wishlist that it takes me awhile to come up with. Because there really is so much to be thankful for.
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