I have a confession… I am not a Christmas kind of person. Don’t leave! It’s just that I get super overwhelmed thinking I have to participate in every traditional Christmas experience that goes along with the holiday: making cookies, putting up the lights and tree, adding decorations around the house and outside, gifts for teachers, gifts for neighbors, gifts for this and that extended family member, caroling, family Christmas cards to send out (Omg am I even going to send those out this year!?)… The list goes on and on and I’m sure I’ve barely scraped the surface knowing all of you Christmas fanatics out there.
This year, I expect my holiday season to look very, very different. Extremely different. As a woman going through the initial stages of divorce, when I think about the holidays I want to ask for a rain check and go to sleep for like a million years. When I first realized that my marriage was over and I was going to proceed with divorce, I literally sobbed thinking about Christmas. HOW the HELL would I do this!?
But after the crying jag, I stopped, took a breath, and remembered that I am capable of doing really hard things. I told myself that I will be okay and even though it may be different and scary, Christmas is a time to reflect on the love in our lives and the joy the past year has brought. I realized that even though things are changing for me, there is so much joy in my life and I deserve to enjoy Christmas (and Halloween and Thanksgiving and ANY other holiday). And of course my two small humans deserve a parent that is present and ready to celebrate with them.
Right now, in the month of July as we eat popsicles and douse ourselves with sunscreen and head to the pool, this mama is thinking about how to empower myself to get ready for Christmas. Whether or not you are single, happily taken, or somewhere in between, I have put together a list of ideas to help you get prepped and ready for the Christmas season starting NOW so when Thanksgiving dishes are in the sink and people start foaming at the mouth over Black Friday shopping, you’ll be like, “Nah, I’m good.”
Here are 5 tips to help you get prepped for the holidays starting now, mama!
Set a Budget You Feel Good About and STICK TO IT. In my past life (like when I was sure I was going to be married for forever and I didn’t pay attention to anything money related) I would kind of worry about money, but then spend it any way. We would buy gifts for the kids and try to make sure they both receieved about the same amount of stuff, and then we would buy for other family members… and thennnn… we would realize alllllll of the other little things odds and ends that we still needed to handle. That card went swipe, swipe, swippppppe so many times my head was spinning. The result? A DGAF atttitude over it all, because HEY it’s Christmas and you just gotta do this! This was almost immediately followed by stressssssing out over finances, and dipping into savings for the next couple of months while we financially bounced back from this yearly spending spree. Does any of that sound familiar to you? If so, you’ll know it isn’t fun to go through.
Start out by writing 2 different lists: One for all of the people you will buy gifts for, and another listing expenses that you anticipate with the coming holiday seasons (Christmas cards and postage, trip to see Santa at the mall, cost of groceries to make cookies for the neighbors). Peep my fancy list below!
My list, which I knowww I will continue adding to, is already at $505.00. Realistically, I know I will probably spend more than that with other costs that come up, but I’m going to do everything in my power to stick with this budget!
Start Buying NOW. So now you have an idea of how much you want to spend per person on your list. Start buying those gifts now, mama. Yea, it seems silly and maybe you don’t exactly feel moved by the Christmas spirit at this particular moment, but when you are out and about and see something you know your mom or girlfriend or sister will like, buy it and stash it away until December. Just knowing you have something ready to go for a couple of people on your list can GREATLY reduce your stress by the time those people ringing the bells and asking for donations outside of the stores come along.
Forget the Mall. Last year Claire and Grant and I went to the mall the day before Christmas Eve. And yours truly had the GREAT idea of going to Starbucks. I don’t need to tell you that we. were. there. all. day. Instead of waiting until the last minute to head to the mall, take the time now to consider checking out alternatives that you may not usually think of when Christmas comes to mind. Can you find that kayak on Craigslist for your nephew? Do you live in an affluent area where people donate their cool stuff to Goodwill? If you start now and have a goal in mind, can you make something special for a person on your list? When you don’t feel completely pressured by a time crunch, you can actually take the time to find meaningful gifts for the people you love, instead of finding some generic shirt or candle.
Realize You Don’t Need to Buy for Every Damn Person. If you are blessed to have more than enough money in your bank account, good for you! I’m seriously happy for you and I hope to get there too, myself! However, I’m not there yet. Take a look back at my Christmas 2018 List. On the third line it says ‘Family Member Troyer’. My family does not buy a gift for each person. Instead, each adult pulls one name and that is the person you buy for. We all buy for the kids at this point, but even THAT is getting silly. In the next few years I would like my kids to be apart of the name pulling experience and thoughtfully consider a gift for another person in our family. Change is certainly scary, but suggesting a change like pulling names may be something more than one person in your family may appreciate. Bring it up during the next time you see your family and you may be surprised by the reactions you get.
Get Your Side Hustle On. You guys, I shit you not, I recently started dog sitting for extra income. Before you laugh and say I’m nuts, I literally have a dog boarding gig lined up that is going to pay me $360.00. YEA. Can we go back to my Christmas gift list? This dog sitting opportunity is MASSIVELY going to help out with holiday shopping. Maybe you can’t dog sit, but can you do something else that will pull in a little extra money? Babysit, try out Survey Junkie to take surveys and get paid, sell stuff you no longer use on Craigslist (hey anyone need a play kitchen?!), donate your eggs or your plasma (weird, I know, but profitable!), house sit… the list goes on and on. Remember to have the self control to spend that money on Christmas…not yourself! You’ll thank me later!
Choose What You Want Your Holidays To Look and Be Like. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” I feel ya, Abe. I feel this quote all the way down to my bones these days. If I want to have a good holiday season, then dammit, I’m going to do everything in my power to make that happen for myself and for my kids. I’ll be honest that I am scared for these upcoming holidays because they will for sure be different for me, but I’m going to hang on to my strength and remember everything that I have to be grateful for coming into my holiday season. I will try as hard as I can to take my own advice and get prepped and be ready, but if I fall short, or if I’m not able to get to everything on my list, I am going to show myself grace and compassion. I am going to ignore the millions of dollars that marketing agencies pour into social media and elsewhere to fear me into spending money I don’t have. I’m going to remind myself that what I have to offer is the best that I can do. I am going to stay present for my children because my children and my family will long remember my smile and my joy and my presence way more than they will remember a gift that they unwrap. Can we do this together? Can we try as hard as we can, but then remember to give ourselves room for mistakes, mama?
Please let me know what you think of this post! Do you have any other ways to get ready for the holidays? Let me know in the comments section.