Bring back the meaning of Christmas with these stress-free tips

I can't believe I am already done with my Christmas gifts! This year I took a radically different approach and it really took the stress out of year-end holiday shopping. Now I can get into the true spirit of Christmas! Here's what I did differently.


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Got organized very early: I made my Christmas list in the summer and started shopping then for gifts. I thought hard about each gift and for some, I bought a gift I felt they'd love it. Regardless, I stuck to my individual budget. By the end of the summer I was done with half of my gifts. I feel like spreading out the purchases throughout the year seemed less painful than getting one massive bill in December or January.

Ask them what they want or need: Although I try to come up with personalized gift ideas I refuse to stress over it. This is when I resort to my more practical, American side. If I couldn't think of something then I'd reach out and ask for a Wishlist. I then chose one gift from the list to add the element of surprise.

Shop online: Each year I do more and more of my shopping online. Most favorite stores have sales throughout the year so I shop during these times.

Give gift cards: For the teens in our family, gift cards from their favorite stores seem to be a hit. I devoted 30 minutes last week to gift card shopping. Although gift cards may seem too impersonal, I compensate for this by including a heartfelt, handwritten note! For co-workers, I give gift cards from their favorite retail store, restaurant or coffee shop.

Buy gift bags and reuse them: I don't know about you but I hate gift-wrapping. Last year I bought a whole bunch of Xmas gift bags in different sizes and I kept them so that I could use them again this year. In fact, this year we're spending the Holidays in Chile and I plan to take them with me. Can't wait to see the look on my family's face when I ask them to return the bags!

Discuss changing the gifting rules with your familia: Next year I think my sisters and I should only give gifts to the little ones and forget about all of the adults, except for our parents and abuelitos. And rather than give individual gifts to them, my sisters and I should pool our money and buy one nice, expensive gift for each of them! Or personally, I would do away with gifts all together and spend on a memorable experience that celebrates the real meaning of Christmas. Two years ago we spent Christmas eve at Andacollo, a small town in Central Chile, where thousands of pilgrims come to celebrate and pay their respect to the Virgen of Andacollo. My kids and I will forever remember this experience. Perhaps we can overhaul Christmas by the time I have grandkids!

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Topics: tips  tradition  holidays