As we hurtle towards the holidays now is a great time to reflect on the many ways “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” can go very, very wrong and some ways to avoid those Holiday pitfalls. For many folks, the holidays are a time of stress, debt, and not-a-little heartburn. But, here at PlaceFull, we advocate a simpler view of the Holidays; focus on family, on giving, on celebrating all of life’s gifts. Here’s a list of common “Holiday Overloads” and some great ways to overcome them.
Holiday Decoration Overload
How many times have you driven down the street in December to be stopped short by a home lit up like the surface of the sun? Worse when it’s surrounded by homes with tasteful, elegant strings of lights and suddenly, there in the middle, is the house that Christmas vomited on. It’s not pretty.
DON’T try to out-do your neighbor. Keep your outdoor decorations simple and tasteful. Follow the lines of your home (roof line, gutters, windows) and keep the animatronic reindeer to a minimum. If, however, you live on a street that re-brands itself as “Candy Cane Lane” or “Holiday Drive”, then have fun overloading the superplug!
Another Option – Take a chartered cruise of the Puget Sound to see the Christmas Ships!
Holiday after holiday you pile your plate high with turkey, pork loin, stuffing, potatoes and then smother the whole thing in gravy for a beige food extravaganza. The average Christmas dinner contains a whopping 3,500 calories. The total feasting we do on Christmas Day adds up to almost 7,000 calories! Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t love green bean casserole and turkey gravy nearly that much to warrant the amount of exercise I’d have to do afterwards to work it off.
Before dinner (and all that tempting beige-ness) load up low-cal appetizers like fresh fruit veggies (don’t dive into the ranch dip) and enjoy a handful of nuts with their proteins that will send the message to your brain that you’re full. When it’s time for dinner, pile your plate high with green salad, sauteed veggies, and stick to the white meat. Go easy on the gravy. For dessert, limit yourself to ONE piece of pie and pass on the whipped topping. On December 26, get out and go for a jog or a jump!
Another Option – Have a “non-traditional”, catered dinner
Holiday Spending Overload
The average American consumer spends around $700 per year on Christmas gifts alone. And how many of those gifts are put aside at the end of the present opening madness, never to be used again? One in seven gifts are returned to the store and last year over 49 MILLION Americans admitted to having received a gift they deemed “awful”.
Spend wisely. Rather than rushing to the mall to show your friends and family how much you love them by buying them useless junk, take the time to make them something. Even the least crafty among us can find ways to give homemade gifts that speak of the warm feelings you have for your loved ones. Better yet, give the gift of a unique experience like a Flying Trapeze Class or a Glass Blowing Party. The bonus? They don’t have another Bill Cosby sweater to hang in their closet.
While clearly related to the above listing, Holiday shoppers pack malls and big box stores as if they were ready to fight over the last container of yogurt on Earth. Newsflash: There’s more yogurt. Everyone quit panicking. We all know the Black Friday news stories of helpless grandmas being trampled to death as they waited to get into WalMart and the question you have to ask is WHY? First of all, WHY wait in post-Thanksgiving freezing cold with thousands of other goofballs in a vain attempt to score a deal on 2 cheaply priced televisions when you could be snuggled in your bed sleeping off the turkey? Do everyone a favor, including the trampled grandmas and stay home.
SHOP LOCAL and support your small, independent retailers. When you shop at a chain retailer, like BestBuy or WalMart or Barnes and Noble, only 13.6% of the money you spend stays in your local economy. The rest of it flies off around the country to line the pockets of corporate bigwigs and keep board members in caviar and champagne. When you shop at a local, independent retailer 52% of your dollars STAY in your community funding jobs, local artisans, schools, and charities. Besides saving on the crowds, local retailers are often able to give you a personalized shopping experience and help you be the best gift giver possible.
For some, the Holidays have become a time when the expectation is for bigger, better, and more, more, MORE. This video is a perfect example of gift-giving and gratitude gone so very, very wrong.
BEFORE the presents start being unwrapped, in fact days before the presents, let your kids know that ANY response other than delight when they open a gift will result in automatic forfeiture of all their gifts. An empty threat? Perhaps. But likely an effective ruse. In any case it’s important for kids to know, from an early age, that gifts at Christmas are not required but gratitude for them IS.
Together we can make the Holidays just a little merrier by keeping things simple. Enjoy a cup of hot coca by the fire after the kids are asleep, don’t sweat the Christmas cards (you can always send them as “New Year Greetings” instead), take the time to walk outside and observe the beauty of the season, and remember, if you stop having fun, you’re doing the Holidays wrong! PlaceFull wishes you a GREAT Holiday season!