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While some very organized people start planning for the holidays in June or July, most of us are not thinking about it until we see every commercial and window sign reminding us that it’s time to start spending. 

We make our lists and check them twice while we rush around to find the perfect gift for everyone we will see over a whirlwind three days. We feel the pressure to make sure it is the perfect morning and a magical day for our kids. We may even feel the need to impress those who would love us regardless of how many gifts are under the tree. It’s a lot and, most years, the stress of holiday buying can empty our bank accounts and take away from being present in what should be a joyous time.

This year, we have been given the gift of less social commitments, less access to shopping malls, and more time stuck inside to spend quality time doing what truly matters – building lasting memories with the ones we love most. We may still feel the need to over-buy because “the kids have missed out on so much this year” or “we’ve always had so many presents for them to open”, but that has never been where the true magic comes from.

Below are some tips and ideas to help you have better balance, take the focus off the presents, and spend more time doing fun activities as a family.

Get comfortable with buying fewer gifts

If you had to list every gift everyone gave you last year, could you remember them all? It’s harder than you think, but that is because it wasn't the presents that made the day special. Marketing has convinced us to spend money on Destress This Holiday Season FBitems that no one really needs, simply because we have to have SOMETHING to give, or because we want it to look like a lot. In the days of Amazon and two-day delivery, most people purchase what they want, right when they decide they want it. That can leave us pestering our loved ones to come up with ideas and search for items that would be nice to have but they don’t truly need. We may also find ourselves wandering the aisles or browsing online to find toys that we know probably will never get played with after the holiday break wraps up. Challenge yourself to be okay with letting go of the thoughts and feelings that have been ingrained over a long period of time and make room for memorable experiences instead.

Have a discussion with your loved ones about the changes this year

If you have a huge extended family and you typically buy gifts for each of them, have the conversation to cut back, switch up, or eliminate gift-giving for the adults this year. In a global pandemic, we really should not be hosting large gatherings so now is the perfect opportunity to mix things up. Consider not giving gifts to those who you will not be seeing or suggest having a Secret Santa exchange with a stealthy porch drop-off.

For the kids, have an honest conversation about why there will be fewer gifts under the tree this year. If your kids still love Santa, throw him under the bus by saying that there are many kids in need this year, the elves are over capacity, and they need to take care of those who need them most. If they are older and they’ve figured out that you are Santa, talk about what the holidays are truly about. Be open about how you are cutting back, focusing on quality over quantity, and freeing up time to have more fun together.

Fun activities to do:

  • Listen to carols and decorate the tree
  • Make hand-made ornaments/decorations
  • Decorate cookies or gingerbread houses
  • Tour the Christmas lights
  • Curl up with a movie on the couch or in a blanket fort
  • Give back to your community with a handmade card for a neighbour, or make a donation to a food or toy drive

Take time for yourself

In the hustle and bustle of a typical holiday season, we often forget about our own self-care. We get wrapped up in making everyone else happy and we burn ourselves out. While gifts will likely always be a part of our traditions, we can set boundaries going forward to protect our energy and prioritize our own mental, physical, and spiritual health. This should be a standard that we set for ourselves all year long, in every aspect of our busy lives, but it's easier said than done - I know.

This year, give yourself the gift of tranquillity and joy by learning the art of drawing mandalas. At Mandals4You, we help you unplug, breathe, and focus so you can welcome mindfulness and see clear paths forward in challenges. If you would like to make an investment in yourself or put it on your wish list for a gift that keeps on giving, reach out to us! We’d love to help you find more balance and clarity heading into the new year!


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