Make the holidays about the experience, not the stuff!


The holidays always seem to fly by, as many people are occupied with shopping, cooking, baking and travelling. A lot of time is spent planning and completing tasks to enjoy the holidays, but many of us end up not enjoying the holidays because of this. Make this holiday season one that you will actually enjoy by eliminating some of the tasks that normally add a lot of stress.

One of the biggest costs of stress during this time is gift giving – a lot of time (and money) is spent buying gifts, sometimes for many people! Instead, talk with your family, friends, and co-workers and come up with an alternate gift giving solution that everyone can participate in.

For example, consider doing a draw for “Secret Santa” and set a dollar limit that works for every person’s budget. While this may not be the best option for children, this idea works great for adults. There are even apps available that will randomly match people (like this one) that will make sure no one draws their own name, and even lets people upload a list of possible gift ideas. Hosting a “Secret Santa” gift exchange will save everyone money and time, as they won’t have to go and buy as many gifts as they normally would.

Alternatively, you could host a gift exchange where everyone buys one generic present, and people can exchange or steal gifts until everyone has one item. Not only does it also save you from buying more gifts, it’s also a fun activity to enjoy with family and friends. With less time spent shopping, wrapping presents, and delivering gifts, you will be able to spend more time experiencing the holiday season.

While giving and receiving gifts is fun, they are not as valuable as spending time with family and friends. Careful planning and shopping in advance may help reduce some of your stress, but you’ll be even more relaxed when you can completely eliminate one of the many tasks you plan to do this month. The holidays should be about the experience, not just the gifts or items that you give and receive!

Make a list and check it twice: Christmas is coming!

 Lists, lists, and more lists: the best way to stay on top of everything now that the Christmas season is now upon us!

Christmas shopping is an inevitable part of the holiday, and lists are necessary to keep track of who you need to buy for, who you have bought for, and what you have selected as a gift. Once you have all of this figured out, you can better manage your time and determine where you will need to shop. Find out when stores open and when you can go that works best for your schedule. Remember, the closer to Christmas you go, the busier it will be! Keep track of what stores are offering sales when so you can get a better price on your items.

If you’re shopping online, this should be done as early as possible to ensure you have enough time for shipping and aren’t paying an exorbitant price for shipping it at the last minute. If you do plan on shopping online, it’s also important to consider the extra time and cost that shopping out of the country will entail, and the possibility for delays especially during this busy season. Also, not every company will ship internationally so it’s best to do your research ahead of time so you aren’t left without a gift at the last minute. With the current exchange rate as it is, try to find your gifts from Canadian vendors – it will make your time management and bank account a lot happier!

An even better solution to the stresses of gift giving is not purchasing gifts at all or at least limiting the amount of items you have to buy.

Consider giving gifts that aren’t purchased at a store, and are ultimately worth a lot more: for example, a gift certificate for free babysitting, household chores, cooking lessons, fitness help, or home organization! Family or couple trips are also a good idea, or even practical gifts like AMA or gym memberships. For a full list of ideas, check out a previous post on giving clutter-less gifts.

To limit the amount of gifts you have to buy, try setting up “secret santa” or gift exchanges with coworkers, family, or friends. This will significantly cut down the amount of items you have to buy, and the items you receive. This way, you won’t be bringing in more unnecessary clutter into your home than you have room for!

Gifts are supposed to be items or gestures that the receiver can really appreciate, and giving a gift is supposed to make you feel happy. Don’t over stress yourself and leave this activity to the last minute. Prepare and plan ahead of time as much as you can, or try to eliminate or limit the potential stress that this holiday tradition can have.