1. Take a minute and think about the people you know. Is there someone that just went through a break-up? Did anyone lose a family member during the last year? Is anyone you know sick?
When life is busy, and the holidays are in full swing, it's so easy to forget what those around us are going through. You can make a difference in someone's life by bringing them a basket of homemade treats. Bake an extra loaf of bread, or another batch of cookies, and bring it over to that person or family. Maybe you have room to include another person at your Christmas dinner. Invite someone that may be alone this year.
2. Do you still need a gift for a teen? Teens LOVE gift cards of ANY amount. I have a lot of experience buying for teens and gift cards to these places never fail: local coffee shop, video/game rental store, used game store such as Game Stop, Best Buy, fast food restaurants or movie theaters. There are a lot of gift cards out there but these are no fail because any teen can use them no matter where they live or what electronic devices they own.
3. The fastest way to get stressed during the holidays is to expect children to act like adults. They aren't big people. They are small people with short attention spans that look at life nothing like we do. This is a good thing as long as you keep it in mind. Set them at a card table with safety scissors, non-toxic glue, old Christmas cards and crayons and they will create masterpieces if you let them. They will also be messy and loud. Expect this, and it will be okay. That's what being a kid is all about. Send them outside to play afterwards and smile when you look over what they created. Always have crayons and paper on hand when kids are around. Those two things will help you keep your sanity.
4. Take time out to relax and have fun. We bake, shop, cook, clean and try to do everything we can to make the holidays perfect. This is fine unless you are strung so tight that the littlest thing going wrong makes your head explode. Relax. Laugh. Enjoy. If this means something doesn't get done, then so be it. You may have to bake one less batch of cookies, or put up a couple less decorations, but it will be okay.
These are my tips for a nice Christmas. Sharing them with you is also a reminder to myself as I finish up my writing, baking and shopping. I always want to do more for people, and sometimes I get frustrated that I need to sleep more than four hours when I'm in the midst of the holiday preparations, but I make myself get the sleep I need and I take time to reflect and relax. I hope you will too.