Our Christmas present list used to be very long and I used to start Christmas shopping around October/November to enjoy December more. That is one solution to the Christmas gift quandary and the December stress spike. "My life is a rat race, haven't even started Christmas shopping. Only have teachers' gifts done. Gotta get going. Feeling pressure!!!!!!" a friend recently posted. All that pressure, all those obligations we feel piled on top of us take away from the sparkly twinkly holiday spirit we all remember from childhood and want back so much.
We have pared our Christmas gift giving down drastically, not because we don't love our family members any less, but because I love myself more, and it makes me less hassled in December. I remember how hard it used to be to find meaningful presents for my father-in-law, or my own grandparents. And even my dad had enough socks and books and sweaters and did not need another scarf for Christmas.
My husband and I have agreed with both our families that we adults don't need more stuff and to limit Christmas gift giving to each other and the closest children in the family. I send flowers to my parents and pictures of the family, but no more presents bought hastily under stress and duress. Time together or a telephone call is more important.
An idea I love for simple gifts is homemade foods, cookies, pickles, mustards, jams. If you are someone who makes these throughout the year simply plan ahead, make a little more and put your goodies into pretty jars and containers. All done.
I do as much of the gift shopping for the children as I can locally (love all the little craft stores, their presents are unique, local gift certificates are great, too), and teachers get beautifully tinned cookies or chocolates, which I buy way ahead of time when I am out and about anyhow. Et voilà, very little stress, all done with my Christmas shopping as I write this. And one last thing - the presentation is at least as important as the present (meaning, you can dress up a humble gift and make it that much more special - more on that in a previous post).