How to Maintain Your Sanity at the Holidays

Parents, Adults

We often go to incredible lengths to make the holiday season spectacular—like tracking down the perfect gift for someone we love. Finding just-the-right-thing to make someone else happy and give us something to feel good about, if only for a few weeks.

That’s the ideal anyway. But it can be tough to make that happen. Sometimes the pressure to find the perfect gift(s) leads to increased stress and unnecessary anxiety. That’s not exactly a recipe for an enjoyable holiday season.
With the “hot” toys topping $100, how is a family supposed to withstand the insane pressure to spend, spend, spend? That’s the big challenge for most people, they work hard to live within their means for 10 months out of the year and then watch it go out the window (or up the chimney) in the final two months.
So, how does one withstand the overwhelming pressure to spend and still enjoy the best of the holidays?
Here are five tips to help you maintain your sanity:  
  1. Be realistic. Create a list of everyone you want to buy a gift for, compare that to your total holiday gift budget and then assign a specific dollar amount for each gift. Then, when possible, shop with cash, not plastic. This will help you stay on budget and maintain your sanity well into the New Year.
  2. Buy local. When buying gifts for friends and family, support local merchants. It might take a little more time to source them out, but it is well worth it. When you give the gift, make sure the recipient knows where it came from as it may inspire them to do the same.  
  3. Share time & money. If you want to really create some cool memories this year, give a “share check” to friends and family. It’s super simple. Use a check from your checking account, fill everything in except the “pay to order of” and then ask the person you share it with to give the money away to a cause or charity they are passionate about. Time permitting; offer to accompany them on a volunteer project for the recipient’s charity. The memory will last a lifetime and nothing will end up in a landfill.
  4. Mine your family stories. Some of the best holiday memories I have from years past was listening to my grandparents and parents talk about their holiday experiences from their childhood. Talk about reinforcing the notion of gratitude. Our family stories, the good and the challenging, shape our family narrative. Don’t cede the narrative to the culture of consumption.  
  5. Drinking and online shopping don’t mix. If you are planning to shop online, don’t pour a glass of wine before sitting down at your computer – it’s a bad combination. It’s amazing how easy it is to click “buy” after a glass (or two) of your favorite Malbec. Save the drinking until after the shopping is done.
Gotta Have it Now!
In 2012 the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more and U.S. shoppers will spend over $586 billion  - National Retail Federation
Money Talks
Charity Navigator and VolunteerMatch can help you and your family get started sharing your time and/or money this holiday season.
The holidays can create unhealthy expectations, especially for kids. In this video, Nathan offers suggestions to create a more manageable and enjoyable holiday experience for you and your family.