Sunday, December 01, 2013

Tristi's Christmas Tips

Sometimes things get so crazy around Christmas that it's difficult to relax and concentrate on all the real joys of the season. I'd like to share some little things I do that help keep things somewhat - note, I said somewhat - more organized and peaceful during this chaotic time of year.

1. Instead of having one wild, crazy present-wrapping day (or middle of the night), wrap the gifts as you purchase them. That way, you're only wrapping a portion of your gifts at a time - unless you've got mad skills and get 100% of your shopping done in one trip.

2. Make a list or chart or spreadsheet of what you've gotten for each person. That way, you can be sure at a glance that you didn't get Johnny three presents while Betsy only got one. I used to drag everything out and count it over a million times to make sure things were even, and now I just consult my list. Plus, having a list goes well with wrapping everything as soon as I buy it - even though they're wrapped and I can't see them, I know what's in them, so I don't have to worry about that.

3. Let each child choose their own pattern of wrapping paper so that there's no confusion over which gift is whose. They see their paper, they know that's their present.

4. If you have children who like to peel back the wrapping and peek at their presents before the big day, keep the gifts out of sight until Christmas morning instead of putting them under the tree. We started doing this when I had toddlers who couldn't understand the concept of "no touch," and I liked it so well we keep doing it.

5. Place each child's gifts in their own spot rather than mixing them up. Again, it solves present confusion and takes care of chaos. Because I don't bring gifts out until Christmas morning, what I do is create little piles on the couch and love seat, one pile for each child, and then I put their sock on top of the pile as a marker of what belongs to which kid.

6. Keep in mind that the most meaningful gifts are often not the most expensive. You don't have to spend a lot of money to touch someone's heart. Get them something that represents what they mean to you, or reminds you both of a fun experience you had together. Listen to them when they talk and remember little things that they say about their likes and dislikes. My favorite gifts ever are when someone says, "I remembered how one day you were talking about ..." That shows me that I matter to them, I have their attention, and they care enough about me to remember my saying that I liked something.

7. Ask your family members which Christmas traditions mean the most to them, and dump the ones that haven't seemed to create an impact. You never know what might be an important part of Christmas to someone. Our artificial tree is starting to become a problem child. I got it the day after Christmas thirteen years ago. I paid ten dollars for it (how's that for awesome?) and we've lost some branches. I made the comment while putting it up this year that we'd look into getting a new one next Christmas. My kids immediately began to protest. "Mom, this is one of my favorite parts of Christmas," my teenage son told me. "I love helping put together the tree and finding all the pieces." Huh. Who knew? On the other hand, I've been spending time on traditions that probably don't even matter. Trim it back to the events that are creating the most positive memories.

8. Find someone to help. Between the shopping and the wrapping and the parties, it's so easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of why we do this in the first place. Look around and find someone you can help. Whether it's pushing their car out of the snow or slipping a twenty into their mailbox or taking over a sack of toys, whether it's inviting a lonely person to share Christmas dinner or shoveling someone's walk - find a way to be a blessing in someone else's life. That is the best and most sure way to feel the Christmas spirit. It seems that every year, I struggle to find the joy in the season until I go a little out of my comfort zone and help someone who's worse off than I am. Not only will this keep you focused, but it will set a great example for your kids.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Tristi. Wonderful Christmas tips. I've thought about wrapping the presents as I get them, but I guess wrapping them over a two day period is one of my traditions. : )

Nichole Giles said...

Great tips. Going to take your advice. Merry Christmas Tristi!

Pam Williams said...

You have some great Christmas traditions and habits. We simplified even further. We jettisoned the whole Christmas present thing. Instead, we have a "heartfelt Christmas" where we simply write a love note to everyone else in the family (there are only 14 of us so it isn't too hard) to express love and gratitude, testimony and encouragement. It keeps us out of the madhouse that every mall and big box store turns into this time of year, and helps us keep the authentic Christmas spirit.

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