December has begun, and the holiday season is officially upon us. In honor of this festive, joyous, and crazy time, I put together a little list that has helped keep me (fairly) sane and merry.
1. Let go. Embrace traditions that make life easier and skip stuff you don't enjoy. I grew up eating one tiny chocolate a day from a $1 cardboard advent calendar. This year, I oohed and aahed over the crafty advent bonanza that is pinterest, and then I let go and stuck with the Trader Joe's advent. Furthermore, if there is a part of the holiday that drives you nuts (cookie baking, cards, caroling) skip it, the world will not end (I promise).
2. Give handmade. But, keep it simple and fun. For example, don't commit to making mini loungers for your eight nieces and nephews; although, might I suggest pencil rolls? And remember, you can give handmade by supporting other crafty folks.
3. Give less. Would you rather have one special thing or a bunch of crap? Don't make the holidays a race for cheapest-mostest. Give more thought, and fewer packages. Do you draw names for a secret santa? Why not go one step further and suggest that everyone donates to charity instead?
4. Have a signature gift (or two). Have a cute kid? Then you have the perfect gift: photos, framed or in a calendar, for every grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt/uncle, on your list. Other ideas include jam, cookies, affordable wine (might I suggest Prosecco?). You get the idea. Oh, and I've never met a teenager who didn't like cash.
5. Shop local. Perhaps more important than it's ever been, help out your local economy (and environment) by shopping close to home.
6. Avoid the mall/big box stores. Though your tax dollars will help your town, the price you pay in stress isn't worth it. Need the lastest Twilight doll? Go online. If you must go, plan ahead: go once, with a list, at opening or closing.
7. Visit a charitable Santa. The mall is not the only place to find Santa. Check your local listing for Santas who see children for a good cause. You make a donation, your little one tells the big man what he wants, you take your own pictures (sometimes they take one for you) and you're done. No lines, no elves pushing the mega picture pack.
8. Get your tree at a farm. Better for the environment and your local economy. Plus, it's WAY more fun!
9. Wrap with recycled or reusable material. I've been saving Jude's artwork as wrapping paper this year. Reusable grocery bags, fabric, and dishtowels are all great options that become part of the gift.
10. Focus on the spirit of the season. It should be about peace, joy, and sharing; not stress, consumption, and road rage. When it all feels like too much, crank up Christmas With Weezer and dance until there is joy in your heart, then put your feet up and your arms around your loved ones.
Here's to a greener, simpler, MERRIER holiday from my home to yours.