Christmas Shopping Headaches and Other Options

6 years ago in the Christmas Season, I was close to a nervous breakdown, wrapping gifts, saving receipts,  baking cookies, wanting the gift exchange with my family to be perfect.... the type of insanity that leads people to hating the season and the holidays. That year, I slept 3 hours on December 23rd, and 4 hours on December 24th. And had to return at least 10 things, and donated half of my presents.

The following year, I decided that a new plan was needed, that I would no longer drive myself crazy trying to make the holidays perfect and instead, I would plan out the entire month. That November, I sent my family an email asking them to give me 5 things that they really wanted for Christmas, double and triple emphasis on really wanted. I told them that no wish was too big, or too small, but that I did ask for them to list things they would use. Somebody asked for an Apple TV device,  somebody else asked for socks, while a brother asked for a nice dress jacket, and a sister asked for a pair of boots she had been looking at for 2 months, somebody even asked for a body wash set, because she loves those baskets.

My shopping trip became focused and with a purpose and this way, I was not wasting my money, got some sleep and didn't have massive headaches at the mall. It was a success!

Each year since, I have also offered my family one of the following options

* I go with them to the mall and let them pick their own gift. If they need to have something to open on December 24th, I will take it home, wrap it and let them open it that night.

* Take them out to a nice dinner- We all love to eat! and we love to eat at nice places. So, if instead of a sweater that they will never wear, a handbag that they wont' like, I offer them to take them to a nice dinner and pay for it. We call it a "Because I love you!" dinner.

* Gift cards- I know that the Christmas Police considers Gift cards the least personal present... but having a Starbucks gift card late in January, when I crave a latte and a butter croissant, but my budget doesn't allow for fancy drinks, that gift card becomes pure gold.

* To pay one of their bills- If you never had to struggle with knowing you have to buy food, gifts for people and worry about paying the bills....  then consider yourself 1000 times blessed!

* Told them that they do not at all have to worry about buying me a gift. I am lucky to be healthy, strong, a little emotionally unstable, but ok for the most part and I don't need another sweater, another book, another handbag.  But I do want mental sanity and bliss for my family.

* Cash- say a number, I'll say a number back... we agree on a number that makes everybody happy.

Each of my family has taken me up on at least one of this offers, and those have been the best gifts.

What gifts do you wish your family would give you?
Do you have a shopping list?
Do you have any other non-conventional ideas on Christmas Gifts?
What is the best Christmas Gift you have gotten? Mine have been a Kitchen aid mixer, and MP3 player and my Garmin.


  1. For the last few years I create a list on Amazon of the things I want. The nice thing about the Amazon gift registry is that you can add things to it that you cannot find on Amazon. And I always make my parents tell me what they want cause they are the hardest to shop for. But I love your ideas. I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week.

    1. Yes ! Amazon lists are awesome ! Just click and shop! I love those !

      My parents are so hard to shop for! I give them both cash, it's so much easier for everybody that way.

  2. I love buying and wrapping Christmas gifts. I love it more if people tell me exactly what they want or at least an idea. If someone sends me an Amazon link, I am fine with that!

    This year, I do not want ANY PRESENTS. I only want donations in my honor to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or something that will protect our planet.... any ideas for that one??? I am serious I do not need or want anything at all right now but to help the causes that Trump will NOT help.

    1. I don't want any presents either! I already have so many things as it is. But I did ask for a couple of books, because I'm nerdy like that.

      Last year and this year, I asked my family to donate a toy on my sons name to any organization that is accepting toys. My son doesn't need need any more toys, but there are so many little kids all over who need those donations. This year I'm also considering contacting Catholic Charities to ask about donations or volunteers, they help all the refugees coming to the area. Anything that helps those agencies, can benefit the people who Mr Trump is fighting against.

    2. I know Catholic charities sounds like a weird organization, but they are the agency who runs the refugee program in dauphin county, I have to research who has the program in Cumberland county.

    3. THANK YOU for that information. I just watched a Samantha Bee episode about Syrian refugees and I started bawling. I am SO PISSED that people are so scared of refugees when all they want is a place to live to they don't get effing bombed.

  3. The only gifts exchanged around here are among the kids and that's just fine by me. I truly don't want for anything and am happy to donate my time and $$ to the needy. I always thought gift cards were just fine. Not sure why they get such a bad wrap.

    1. I don't know why they get a bad rep either! I could rather have a gift card to Lowes than a gift I can't use.

  4. I totally understand how the Holidays become stressful! I need to remember to start things early in the season. I'm usually good at giving/making personalized gifts from the heart. Last year I made my sister a photo blanket with pictures of our/her dogs on it and she absolutely loved it!
    I'm a simple gal and totally wouldn't mind a Starbucks gift card.

    I hope you are less stressed this season Ana and that you enjoy the holidays!

    1. Thank you! a photo blanket sounds so warm and comfy! Personalized gifts are the best!


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