Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stress of gifts, shopping, wrapping...

A few years ago my wife and I felt overwhelmed at all the stress of shopping for gifts for family and friends. We decided after Christmas we were not going to go through that again. One thing we did to ease this stress and save time was to use reusable gifts bags. Also, we didn't want to use the paper ones. We went to the local fabric store after Christmas and bought some of the Holiday fabric that was thick enough that you couldn't see throught it. Then we made bags that were shaped like pillow cases. the bags stack neatly in a closet next to a bag of ribbons. The next Christmas we just had to drop in the gift and tie a piece of ribbon around it. No hunting scissors, running out of tape. Just tie a bow and go. The final step was to tell the family they had to either use it to wrap someone elses gift the next year or give it back. Once we did this a few years, everyone has caught on and we usually get the bags back when the gift is opened or when we recieve a gift the following year.

Another thing we did was to reduce the number of gifts that need to be bought. We talked our familys into drawing or picking names and each person only buys for the name they picked. This takes away alot of stress, time and saves money. Now, grandparents may still want to buy something extra for a grandchild and that's O.K.

As for shopping, we try to buy from small locally owned places that are within biking distance of our house. My sister-in-law and wife often give out homemade cookies. I would always rather have a homemade gift or treat than socks that don't really fit or I don't even need. Last year, I asked for an Indiana State Parks pass. It was easy for my mother-in-law to order it online and she didn't have to worry about what size, color or style I wanted. I really enjoy the outdoors, so supporting the State Parks and getting me in all year was nice. Plus, we got to go a few times we might not of if we didn't have the pass due to time constraints. With the card we didn't feel like "It's not worth it to pay to get in because we can only stay for an hour".

I don't want to sound cliche, but remember the reason for the season. It's not about gifts, giving or getting. Spending time with family and friends should be what we really enjoy.

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