How to shorten your holiday gift list

Now’s a good opportunity to knock off a chunk of your holiday shopping. But before you start working through your gift list, see if you can shorten it.

First, remove anyone who doesn’t really need a present. I’m not trying to stifle your generosity; I’m just inviting you to consider if gifts are the best way to express it.

Does every service provider in your life need a gift, or would a generous tip be more helpful? Might some of your giftees feel awkward if they don’t have a gift for you?

Next, ask yourself:

How about a handwritten card instead of a gift? Teachers, especially, appreciate this.

How about a donation instead of a gift? Good for everyone who already has everything they need and may even be trying to declutter.

How about one special present instead of multiples? If Santa visits, one gift plus a full stocking is plenty. For kids, especially, the initial WOW of piles of wrapped boxes often turns into overwhelm or lack of interest (and possibly, down the road, greed and entitlement).

How about a small gift instead of a big one? Some people feel uncomfortable when presented with extravagant gifts. It’s fun to make a big splash every now and then, but usually, the best gifts are small treasures that demonstrate how well you know someone.

How about an experiential gift? Membership to a local museum, theater or performance tickets, a massage, a night in a hotel?

Paring down your gift list will save you money and time, and will help you feel calmer during the holidays. But, most importantly, it will help you express your love and gratitude to friends and family in ways everyone will appreciate.

How do you keep your gift list from getting too long?

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RelatedUse Google Documents to share family gift lists

Ron Huxley Recommends: Anything that shortens my shopping list and lightens my expenses, is a must for me…hopefully, this helps you as well. How do you deal with holidays on a budget?

Power of Silly

There are a lot of very good parenting techniques available to parents in the form of parenting books, videos and classes. I have written and taught them myself. What you don’t often hear about is how to “do” parenting when the rubber hits the road. How do you get through the daily grind of life and keep a cheerful face and engage your child (or for some us multiple children)? My best parenting advice is this: Be silly. I know, parenting should be serious, shouldn’t it? The truth is that it is serious way too often.

Silliness is a useful way to lighten up the mood in the home and to engage bored or irritable children. Over the years I have used variations on the silly theme with mostly good effect. Here’s a few to try on and see how they fit for you:

Change the game rules Parents can get exhausted playing the same old game of “Go Fish” or “Sorry.” Anything done hundreds of times can be hum drum. Spice it up by changing the game rules. Use a pirate voice when playing a card game. “Argh, give me your fours!” Narrate the characters in the book you read at bedtime every night. Act it out instead of reading it. This weekend I played my niece, nephews and grandson Ping Pong Poetry. Every time you hit the ball you have to rhyme a word: Ping, sing, ring, thing, king, etc. It resulted in several belly laughs.

Tell a joke This is perhaps the simplest silly strategy. Have a long car ride? Tell a few Knock-Knock jokes. OK, you might have to do a google search first to come up with a few but it will be worth the research! I have one I told me kids over and over again. They groaned every time I would start to tell it but I could tell by their smiles they loved the “tradition” of it as well. Want to hear it? “How do you make a hanky (hankerchief) dance? Put a little boogie in it.” Made you laugh? I know it is a little irreverent but isn’t that the point here?

Make up a song Need to get your kids to focus and march in a file through a store without touching everything? Come up with a marching song and sing it (quietly) as you go down the aisles. Preschool teachers do this all the time to get kids to clean up their mess and move to a new classroom activity. Use it at home too.

Food can be fun Got a picky eater? Dinner time always turns into a fight? Use the food to create some fun. Put coloring food into the milk. Make a game out of how slowly you can eat. Wiggle your nose at others around the table and see who can catch who doing it. Eat in courses, switch seats for each one or use your opposite eating hand to do it. Make faces out of the foot as you place it on the plate. We often use special pancake forms on the griddle to make dinosaur shapes. A lot of food is package in shapes of animals or other character. I enjoy bitting their heads off. Sorry, but I do. Have a crunching contest – keeps kids focused and eating mom!

Wear funny slippers My sister-in-law came over for the weekend and wore fluffy pink slippers most of the weekend. She was comfortable and the kids loved making fun of her. Keep a full house of people energized and in good humor. Alternate this strategy by wearing bright clothing, mix patterns or act cool in your shades. I am sure you have a few silly tricks up your sleeve.

Share them with us by leaving a comment or Facebook post or Tweet us! Let’s pool our silliness ideas together and use it to increase cooperation, enjoy each other more, and decrease stress levels.