Thursday, November 4, 2010

Five ways to maximise your holidays!

The stores already have their Christmas (pardon me, holiday) displays out, and the Santa Parade flags festoon Tamaki Drive as you cruise the waterfront.  I bet we're not the only ones.

So it's not too early to prepare for the festivities - the stores know what they're doing and your holiday success depends on this too.

My earlier post discussed the commercialism of the holidays, and how you can choose celebration in a different style.

1.  Focus on people, not stuff
Your gift shopping doesn't have to be the biggest part of your journey.  Spend some time (not money) thinking about what your most important people would enjoy the most from you.  Odds are, you won't be able to buy it at the mall.

Kids love to see, anticipate, and unwrap presents - I don't suggest denying them that!  But the more presents, the less memorable each one is.  And quite young children get simply overwhelmed once their nose disappears under a sea of wrapping paper.

2.  Plan for healthy holiday food (I'm drooling already).
If you think that holiday feasts must mean compromising your healthy, earth-friendly, budget-conscious goals, click that link up there.
  • If you like vegetarian food, or always secretly liked the stuffing better than anything else, you're in luck!
  • If you eat meat, there are better choices out there.  Make no mistake, cheap meat means cheap and nasty.  Buy quality instead of quantity.

A traditional Christmas meal doesn't have to be a heartstopper.  And if (like me) you have a summer Christmas, what about changing the tradition and sharing a seasonal light but lavish banquet with lots of fruits and salads instead of roasting yourself with ovens and boiling pots?

Everyone will feel better for your efforts once the holidays are over!

3.  Enjoy your decorations - but maybe don't deck the halls?
Holiday decorations add a lot to the feeling of celebration.  Keep this in perspective, though!  If decorating with everything you've got has become a chore, have a think about using only your favourites in special spots like entryways and family rooms.  With the first festive impression, your visitors won't notice that every corner isn't full of holly.

4.  It really is the thought that counts
Nobody wins when present-giving goes bad.  Having a dollar value placed on the love you feel is a dangerous step.  Most of us can't afford to exchange expensive gifts, even when we care deeply about another person.  If you feel pressure to spend more than you can manage because you expect to receive a costly gift, perhaps now is the time to open a discussion with the person involved.

The discussion might be a bit awkward if you have to suggest a big change to your habits, but less so than a post-holiday credit hangover or hurt feelings when expectations are not met.

5.  Remember the truly needy
For a real holiday buzz, do a lot of giving to people who really need more.  You know which charities you wish you'd donated to during the year - they could use your help a lot more than anybody on your list needs more stuff.  And some people on your list would enjoy choosing their favourite charity for you.

If you have time, spend that time volunteering for those organisations!

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