Buy gift cards, but package them cleverly. I am severely clumsy, but even I can make an origami box from last year’s Christmas cards!
There are also puzzles you have to solve to get the gift card out (cruel, but fun for the right person!) and my personal favorite for the person who tries to figure out what it is before unwrapping it (me, since birth) a brick or glass-block square. Yeah, the people at Lowe’s will look at you weird, but trust me – they’ve seen stranger. Tape it securely to the brick or put it inside the glass-block and tape it shut with plastic. Maybe throw in a dog treat for funzies. My dad is an expert at this after fifty years of dealing with me!
Do a DIY that impresses everyone, but is super-easy. Last year we had just enough money to buy gifts for the kids and do DIY stuff for everyone else. (That’s better than this year.) The easiest DIY was also the cheapest (free) and the most fun!
Preheat oven to 350. Select an old, warped album (or one you’ve picked up at Goodwill) and put it in the oven over the top of a bowl. Glass mixing bowl, stoneware bean bowl, whatever’s handy. Watch it closely. At about the five-minute mark it will start to melt. Pull it out immediately. It will be warm to the touch, but not hot. Quickly push down the middle and form the outside curves as you like. Fabulous for popcorn, chips, or as a fruit bowl!
Make a lot of one thing. If you’re doing treats for co-workers, neighbors, and your own celebration do it all the same. Seriously. It’s as easy to make five pumpkin rolls as it is to make one. Make a huge batch of Neiman-Marcus cookies. Or a ton of your award-winning fudge. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Or hunker down and make something special if you’re feeling inspired!
Don’t do the things you don’t enjoy! I sat my boys down one year long ago when I knew I was going to be working more than expected that holiday season (yes, someone quit the day after Thanksgiving). I had a list of all the things I usually tried to pack into one month and had them prioritize them. I kept Christmas cards, because I always enjoyed sitting near the tree with a glass of wine, Christmas carols playing softly in the background, and writing out personal messages. We haven’t been able to afford that in several years, which is just as well since my tremor makes even my printing nearly illegible. But the boys didn’t really care about decorating cookies together, or going to see The Nutcracker. I think I cut my holiday stress about 50% that year because of things that I mentioned that rated blank stares.
Turn off the electronics and interact. Watching a movie together is not interacting. But neither is expecting kids to carry on a conversation with people they only see once or twice a year. Play a board game or a card game. A couple of years ago we played a three-generation Cards Against Humanity and my mom won. And I thought we’d have to explain some of the cards to her – LOL!!
Set priorities and make plans for next year. Hit the after-Christmas sales, especially the craft stores. Buy ribbons, ornaments, fabric – anything that catches your eye. Even a chia pet looks great wrapped in an eco-friendly cloth bag , tied with a satin ribbon and adorned with a fabulous ornament!