It begins. The silly season is here with all its end-of-year parties, concerts and gift buying. If the thought of keeping up with everything that’s going on fills you with dread – you’re not alone. I have some ways to help you keep calm in the Christmas chaos.
Calendar and weekly planner
In my opinion, you should never be without a weekly planner and yearly calendar. Ever. Especially at Christmas time, the events and tasks to keep track of are more than most people can memorise. I use this approach and generally I don’t forget anything (Hey, I said generally!):
- Note major events on your calendar, even those that are months away.
- Get yourself a weekly planner pad. They are cheap, about $3 from Kmart.
- Sit down for a few minutes once a week and fill out your planner page. Transfer anything from your calendar first, then look around at your school notes, bills etc and add remaining items to the planner.
- Keep the planner somewhere you can check it daily.
Use a sticky-note app
I can hear your thoughts from here – a planner is great, but what do you do when Sarah says ‘Ok, I’ll meet you for coffee, Friday 2pm’ while you’re out and about? A sticky-note app for your phone is the answer. I downloaded the free Notes Widget HD Lite app from Google Play store, which creates a virtual sticky-note (like a Post-It brand paper note) for your phone. Now when Sarah feels like throwing an impromptu catch up my way, I jot it down in real-time (ooh, I’m so techy, ha!).
Shop from your couch
If you’re like me and have family far and wide, hand-delivering gifts isn’t practical. You can go into a store, buy a gift then visit the post office to send your parcel – but have a defibrillator nearby when you see the cost! Your best option for long-distance gifts, or to avoid shopping centres is online shopping. Think about it. Shopping with your feet up, a cuppa and no crowds…bliss! Usually, online stores will bundle up shipping costs, and you might pay only $9 to have 15 presents delivered to your door (or nearest post office). If you are nervous about fake sites, stick to the online shops of reputed physical retailers like Target, Kmart and Harvey Norman.
Theme shop for gifts
Keep gift-giving as simple as possible by using a theme. I’ve done this the last few years to send gifts to my family in Melbourne when I stay home in Perth for Christmas. I can’t tell you what this year’s theme is (spoiler alert!), but previous years I have sent everyone a Ravensburger puzzle, or books to suit each individual personality. Use your imagination! You might know of a boutique shop with unique gifts, not found in the usual department stores.
Picture this – your boss has just asked you to organise a group gift for Bianca who is going on maternity leave. You panic as you think about what to buy, who to collect money from and how to collect all the cash. You are filled with Christmas joy (insert sarcasm here). Skip all that, and just use an awesome group gifting website like Group Together. You set up your ‘collection’ and those who want to contribute to the gift use secure payment methods to add funds to the collection. It’s not magic – these sites make money when they charge your contributors a small fee (e.g. 65 cents for a $10 transaction), or you can use a fee-free option if you choose to buy their site-specific gifts. The time, effort and stress avoided is well worth it!
Above all, try to remember that this season is about spending time with your loved ones, not about gifts and elf costumes. Take a deep breath, be kind to each other, and have a Merry Christmas.