Top Tips for Easing the Stress of Holiday Giving

30 Nov

The holidays are upon us once again. Does this statement fill your heart with joyful anticipation or do you feel a panic attack coming on? Remember when you were a kid and the holidays were a festive time filled with magic? Somehow, as we grow older, the holiday magic evolves into holiday stress-filled madness.  Let’s stop the madness and bring back the magic! How, you ask? Is it possible in today’s economy? Absolutely!

Here are a few tips to ease the stress and help bring back the magic:

· Set a Budget – First and foremost, you MUST set a budget. Overspending creates most of our holiday stress because we all know that come January, we’re going to have to figure out a way to pay for all the spending we did. So don’t even go there. Look at your financial situation and set a holiday budget. Set an amount for gifts, entertaining, travel and any other expenses you have associated with the holidays.

· Make a prioritized gift list (check it twice J ) – List everyone you want to give to and then prioritize it! Next, allocate what you think is appropriate to spend on each person. Work your way down the list until everyone has been given an amount or until you run out of money. It’s important to reassess the most important people in our lives that we want to do something special for at the holidays.

· Be proactive – There is a good chance that your list will need some trimming. It’s ok. Over the years, as family and friends get married and have children our gift lists can grow exponentially until they are out of control. Too many times we give out of guilt. We know someone is going to give us a gift, so we feel obligated to give them one in return.  Here are a few ways to be proactive:

Tell close friends that you are only giving gifts to immediate family this year and suggest that you spend time together instead of exchanging gifts.

Send an email suggesting that you skip exchanging gifts this year or only give to the kids. Many people are in the same position as you are and will be relieved at your suggestion.

If you have a large extended family suggest that you draw names (sites like are fab FREE services that will handle all of this for you including the drawing of names and wish lists)

Suggest that your office adopt a family or do secret santa instead of exchanging with all of your co-workers.

· Embrace the challenge – Instead of stressing about how little you have to spend, accept the challenge of finding something special for the budgeted amount.  Remember, a small thoughtful gift will be more meaningful than a more expensive generic gift. Be sure to include a handwritten note with your gifts. For example, wrap up a trendy $10 cheese slicer with a note that says “You throw the best parties! Whenever I receive an invitation, I know I’m going to have a wonderful evening. Last time I was over, I noticed that someone bent your cheese slicer. So, I thought you might like this one. Looking forward to your next event. “   and viola! You’ve taken your $10 budget and given a personal, meaningful gift. I assure you that every time the recipient puts out your cheese slicer for a party, she will think of you and remember your thoughtfulness.

· Start meaningful traditions – If you take a moment to think about your favorite holiday memories, chances are that they are about special things you did NOT the gifts you received…baking cookies, sledding together, decorating, midnight mass, etc.  Bring back the magic by creating new traditions with your children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren or friends.  The holidays should be about the whole experience, not just one day! Here are examples of traditions you can begin:

My sister and nephew always make hot chocolate, put on their pajamas and drive around to look at lights.

Our favorite family tradition is having a holiday elf visit (Hannukah Helpers available) – check out, , ,  or Elf on a Shelf

Pull an angel off a tree and shop for a needy child (

Go to one of the free festivals around Central Florida and play in the “snow”.

If you’re away from family, make funny videos to send home for the family to view when they are together.

If you’re single, gather other singles and start something fun!

Start a holiday movie night tradition. Pop some popcorn and rent or borrow old movies to watch.

· Re-create stressful holiday tasks – Take the stressful holiday tasks that you dread doing and make them fun. For example, I love sending and receiving holiday cards but dread sitting down to write them all. A few years ago, my friend Karen started a card party tradition. The first weekend in December, she invites about 8 of us over. We all bring our cards plus munchies and we spend the afternoon writing our cards, talking, laughing and eating.  Instead of dreading the task of sending out cards, I now look forward to our annual card party!  Another idea is to have a wrapping party.  Have your friends bring the gifts they need to wrap and their leftover holiday paper. Not only can you have fun doing it together, but you can also recycle paper by sharing it with your friends!

· Use Services that make your life easier – If your budget permits, use companies and services such as Out of the Blue Delivered ( that allow you to conveniently shop online and that will package, wrap, deliver or ship your gifts for you…definitely eliminating holiday stress!!

Regardless of which holiday you celebrate, remember that this is a time for creating wonderful memories! Take a deep breath and remember the reason you are celebrating and who you are creating the magic for.… and then go enjoy the moments! For all too soon it will be over for another year and after all, we only get a finite number to experience! Happy Holidays!!

by Dawn Veselka




One Response to “Top Tips for Easing the Stress of Holiday Giving”

  1. Sherry December 1, 2009 at 5:32 am #

    Great article wonderful ideas. My kids love to give they always looks forward towards the giving. We try to find an Angel Tree every Christmas to buy for a child that has less, the kids love pick out for the child they will never meet. Also we choose one of the kids Christmas picks to give for Toys for Tots.

    My 4year old daughter uses plain paper bags to wrap she decorates them with her drawings. It also limits the size of the gifts

    We have also adopted doing the gift swaps with all the family adults but after many years we could not come up with a theme so we are now using the letter of the alphabet.. this year is the letter C… I am going to do something with a cupcake.

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