Ok, no need to freak out now

Today is October 1. You know what that means, don’t you? Only 91 shopping days until Christmas.  Ok, 91 days actually seems like a lot, but what you need to do is to plan now, right now, to make this Christmas less insane than it has been in years’ past.

First, eliminate anyone from your list who doesn’t really need to be part of your gift exchange. I did this last year with my sisters-in-law and such an enormous weight was lifted from all of us, let me tell you. All I wanted from them was the card with the family photo, and I’m pretty sure that’s all they want from me.

Next, consider having a Slow Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Festivus, or whatever). Slow Christmas is something I made up, partially because I couldn’t deal with all the clutter and craziness of the usual madcap presentfest. Basically, you get a lot fewer presents for everyone, and then you open them one by one, intermittently, over the course of the day. So: your kid opens a present, and then plays with it for an hour. You open a book, and you read it for a while. Much less chaos, much more appreciation. Much less clutter, much more family togetherness. And much less post-gift letdown.

This year I’m really concentrating on getting one, or maybe two, things for everyone on my list. When I do decide on what to get, the #2 issue for me (after “will the recipient like it?”) is whether or not there’s already a place for it in our house. So: marble run pieces would work, because they could go right into the marble run box. Books could work (kind of, our bookshelf is getting full). Clothes work (though that might not always pass criterion #1). A large unwieldy toy that has no obvious home within our home would not work.

For my mom and Dave’s parents I always get a Shutterfly book with photos of the kids from the year. They all love it (and I give the kids a copy too), it saves me from having to make any kind of photo album, and the results always look amazing. If you have hard-to-buy-for grandparents, I highly recommend going this route. Plus: you can do it every year, thus saving you the mental work of having to come up with a new type of gift. Start uploading photos now, get those Halloween pix in at least, and print ’em up.

I guess my main message here is that I want everyone to stop buying so much junk, and give themselves a break.