Blogmas Day 21: Last-Minute Christmas Tips

Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a relaxing weekend, because as of tomorrow it's officially the WEEK OF CHRISTMAS. For those of you who celebrate, I hope your trees are decorated and your presents are wrapped with bows. But let's get real, that's hardly the case for most of us: while the days leading up to Christmas should be stress-free and jolly as hell, odds are most of us still have to do some shopping, some baking, and some therapy before we visit our extended families. I wish you luck with whatever your to-do lists entail. May your patience and budget be abundant. That's unrealistic though, so today I thought I'd share with you some last-minute Christmas tips for the most wonderful time of the year.

1) Shop with a Mission
Let's get real here, y'all: you should've shopped online. So many options, so many niche Etsy shops. The real benefit though is you can get your shopping done without leaving your bed, assuming you keep your laptop next to you while you sleep (which I do if I'm gonna be honest). You blew it, though. At this point even expedited shipping can't help you: if you haven't finished your holiday shopping, prepare to brave the mall. You did it to yourself. Here's how you can make it easier though: figure out who you're buying for and what you're getting each person. That seems obvious, but so many people enter their local Macy's this time of year without a plan in mind. What a rookie mistake. Take a note from Santa and write a list (and check it twice). And if you're not sure whether or not you should get someone a gift, there's no harm in asking. It'll alleviate potential awkwardness later on and keep your budget in check. Speaking of budget: be firm with yours. I know it's tempting to spend more money than you should on that special someone, but remember the bank statement that'll be coming in the mail next week. That's why I think it's always nice to figure out exactly what you want to get someone in advance, so there'll be no surprises when that "perfect gift" doesn't have what you would consider a perfect price tag. At the very least, I always think it's best to figure out how much money you should aim to spend for each person you're buying for this season, even if the gift you want to get them is unknown at this point. That way it'll be easier to dial it back in the stores you're shopping in, especially because so many stores devote certain sections of their floor plans to items all marked with similar price points. For example: I went to TJ Maxx today to get a present for my mom, and I saw a bunch of 5, 10, 20, and 50 dollar displays. Perfect if you know you want to get your brother something "around 20 dollars." I can't stress the budgeting enough, guys. That should be a huge part of shopping. For me, I write it out and do the math with my paycheck in mind before I step foot in the mall. That may seem super boring and too calculated, but it's the safer route, I promise. Plus if you're a little more conservative with your budgeting early on, you might find you can spend a little extra on someone when everything's said and done. It's always better to have a little extra money to play with in December than not enough to get you through to January.

2) No Shame in Homemade
That said, buying presents isn't everything. You absolutely don't have to buy presents for anyone, especially if money is tight this year. Anyone in your life that is special enough to deserve a present from you should love you enough to not need much else from you. You're a gift in and of itself. But if you really want to say "Merry Christmas!" with a wrapped gift, I think homemade gifts are just as awesome now as they were in preschool. I'm not saying your 20 year old self should make your mom a macaroni necklace per say, but a scrapbook or a knitted scarf will move her to tears. Somewhere along the line there started to be a stigma surrounding homemade gifts, but I don't get that at all. I think it's even more special to give someone a present you personally crafted that they couldn't just pick up at Best Buy. Plus, everyone's usually so busy this time of year, so just the fact that someone took the time to make something for someone else is a sweet gesture alone. Trust me, if someone gave me a homemade batch of cookies for Christmas I'd be over the moon. Plus, a batch of cookies doesn't need to include a gift receipt that I'll inevitably lose.

3) Don't Get Pissed at Pinterest
I think Pinterest is most readily used during the holidays and during wedding season. That's about it. People everywhere turn to their virtual boards to find recipes, gift ideas, decor inspiration, and Christmas cocktails, and nine times out of ten the picture online is much prettier. That's okay. Pinterest is solely a site for inspiration, so don't worry if your interpretation isn't as perfect! Not all of us are Martha Stewarts (myself included), so don't beat yourself up if your decoupage Christmas cards aren't seamless or if your yule log is a little lumpy. Plus, the people who run those DIY websites devote their life's work to garland and twine, so you should be proud of yourself for even taking on the task. I guess what I'm trying to say in a very convoluted way is Christmas is very easily idealized, but in reality that's not always the case. Life can be messy, and the holidays are no exception. Embrace it rather than stress about it.

And those are my tips for tonight, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you found some of these somewhat helpful and your holiday seasons are going well. I'll see you tomorrow!

"How we perceive a situation and how we react to it is the basis of our stress. If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high stress levels. However, if you try and see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish." -Catherine Pulsifer



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