How to Give with Holiday Cheer

You know the drill. As soon as September winds down, the holiday countdown begins. Before you have time to say “autumnal equinox”, stores stock their shelves with Halloween costumes, cornucopias, and Christmas lights side by side in a strange, frenzied mash-up. And, being the loyal customers we are, we follow suit and snatch up candy corn and snowglobes in one transaction, patting ourselves on the back in the check-out line for planning ahead – then kicking ourselves once we get home as we figure out where to store our stash.


What to do? Here’s a thought: slow down. Decorating, entertaining, and gift-giving are like good homecooked meals; better when done carefully, precisely, and with a lot of time.  Here are a few practical tips to savor the season.


1. Make your list, but more importantly, check it twice. The longer it is, the higher your stress levels will probably be. Trim it down to those for whom giving is better than receiving.

Halloween Cookie Bouquet



2. Don’t lose sleep over Halloween. Not every holiday needs to turn into a sentimental gift exchange. This day is about costumes and candy, so keep it to that.The exception to this rule is if kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews are far; then sending a Halloween-y care package or card is appropriate.





3. Celebrate obscure holidays. Did you know October is American Pharmacist Month, Cookie Month, Clergy Appreciation Month, and Sarcastic Month? Or that November is National Adoption Awareness Month and Peanut Butter Lovers Month? Even December gives you options with Write a Friend Month or quirky days like Bathtub Party Day. Explore the obscure and use them as an excuse to give, especially to those you had to cut from your list (see #1) and feel guilty about.

Rubber DuckiesPeanut Butter and Jelly Necklace









Reindeer Clothespin Ornament Craft Kit




4. Be the kind stranger. Research local charities, churches, or nonprofits. Call their program directors or stop in and ask how you can help during the holidays or what supplies they might need. Even if the only thing you have to offer is time, you’ll find that giving of yourself is well worth it. And addicting.



5. Be thankful. The fact that you have people to shop for means you have close-knit relationships, one of life’s greatest gifts. Enjoy them, appreciate them, and use gifts as an opportunity to express thanks.

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