Christmas 2018 (Say what?!?)

Reader Contribution by Amanda "mandi" Kemp
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I know, you’re thinking that you’ve just finished with this Christmas.  If you’re like me, you feel like you’ve been run over by a sleigh and never want to see another roll of wrapping paper in your life, but now is the time to start planning for Christmas 2018.  The farther ahead you plan, the least likely you are to suffer an epic stress meltdown, not to mention spend unnecessary cash.

Christmas in a Box

First, get yourself a box designated for squirreling away presents. Hide it away somewhere and label it something boring, like “extra linen” or “tax returns and receipts 2000-2004.”  Most likely, your family will be deterred by the label, unless one of them is an over-eager accountant who wants to start an AirBnB.  Start filling the box with inexpensive Christmas presents as you find them all year round. If you find something that someone will like, buy it, then bring it home to put in the box. 

Now is the perfect time to look at the presents you received. Egads! Am I suggesting regifting? Oh, yes, I am!  As a caveat, regifting has to be done with a certain amount of tact and grace.  Make sure you put a label on the present indicating who gave it to you originally.  Nothing could be more embarrassing that giving back a gift or regifting within the same social circle.  Don’t regift the present to an inappropriate recipient.  Regifting that glass vase to your outdoorsman brother-in-law is probably not a good idea, unless he also appreciates fine china.

Makin’ a List

Keep a running list of the things you have purchased.  You may find 30 different things for Auntie Grace, but have difficulties finding anything for Cousin Merv. If you don’t keep a list, you’ll have too many things for one person and not enough for another.  Though, if you think the gifts for would keep from year to year, by all means, buy more than a year’s worth.  I once bought ten different CDs my mom would love for a dollar a piece.  I gave her a few each birthday and Christmas until they were gone.  

Homemade Gifts

If you are at all crafty, now is the best time to plan and begin projects.  For instance, knitting is beautiful, but it also takes a lot of time to complete a gift.  Same goes for crochet, quilting, sewing, and any other handcraft.  You need to get ahead of the ballgame by figuring out who would appreciate your hard work and which gift would be right for them. Then, pick one to get started on. If you start now, you should have quite a few done by December. 

This painting was based on a photograph my aunt took. 

Mission Impossible

What about the Cousin Mervs who are impossible to find things for? Set up a Christmas fund at your bank or even a coin bank at home.  I recommend setting up automatic withdrawals if you can.  At any rate, just make it an automatic, regular contribution, so that you’ll have money at Christmas to do “regular” shopping or buy a gift card.

Alternative Gifts

If you’ve been longing to eschew the tradition of gift giving, now is the time to discuss it with family and friends.  A charitable contribution in honor of someone is a wonderful gift that doesn’t clutter your home. I love the idea, because it truly reflects the spirit of the season. Another alternative gift is a gift of experiences, like movie tickets or season passes to a wildlife park. These types of gifts require a conversation that can sometimes be difficult for those who love the whole hoopla of gift opening. January or February of the year before is a better time for it than November.   

Plan ahead, avoid the stress

While the rest of the world is stressed during the holiday rush of 2018, you’ll be able to leisurely enjoy the holidays.  With advanced planning, all you’ll need to do is wrap gifts and visit with family.  Besides, isn’t that what the holidays are about?

What are some of your favorite ways to plan ahead for the holidays?

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