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How To Reduce Gift-Giving Stress During the Holidays

By Guest Contributor

By Heather L. Sanders

1. Wrap gifts going to different places in ‘like’ paper.

So your nephew likes Sponge Bob and his sister is a Barbie fan, but let’s be honest, how long will the wrap last on their gifts anyway? Make the holidays easier – select a different color or pattern wrapping paper for each place you’ll go to exchange gifts; one for your side of the family, one for your spouse’s side of the family, and one for office or church parties. Then, when it’s time to pack the car with the right gifts, you don’t have to fret over digging for, and reading, tags – just grab the boxes with the right color or pattern and go!

2. Shop for your parents and grandparents.

You might think it’s offensive to tell Granny you’d love to help her out this year by purchasing your kids’ gifts for her, but really, it’ll knock her argyles right off; she might even let you shop for yourself! Remember, YOU are the woman in the know. Your kids whine tell YOU what they want year round. Besides what they want, you’ve a good idea what they need, right? Who better to ensure that Granny comes off looking like a master shopper and your kid gets that new Nintendo DS game, as opposed to the crocheted My Little Pony saddle she received last year.

3. Follow Santa’s guideline; be methodical.

Make a list and check it twice. Better yet, check it two, three, maybe even fourteen times. Get a small spiral notebook and take it with you everywhere you go from now until after the last thank you note has been sent. On the first page of your notebook write down the name of every person for whom you intend to buy gifts; assign each person to a page, record any price limits, likes/dislikes, sizes, favorite colors, and ideas. Once the gifts are purchased, staple the receipts to their page and move on to the next person.

4. If you haven’t already, start buying holiday gifts RIGHT NOW.

Post-Thanksgiving sales will not save you enough money to equal the number of years you’ll wipe off your life by fighting the crowds and that crazy lady I met on aisle 5 at Mervyn’s 10 years ago (she still haunts me). Stress reduces our youthfulness; it’s a fact. For the first time in forever you’ll be at peace and rested at all your Holiday gatherings.

5. People are more important than things.

Sure the holidays are filled with the giving and receiving of gifts, but they can also surge with an undercurrent of financial stress when friends and family have absolutely no idea HOW they will buy gifts for the ones they love. Consider asking your friends and family to gather at your home for a shared meal in lieu of exchanging gifts. There are few things more pleasant than a relaxing evening of good company and good food. Okay, maybe an elastic waist band, but not much else.


Guest Contributor
About the Author

Guest Contributor

We often publish pieces by guest contributors. If you’re interested in being one, please drop us a line at contact[at]alphamom[dot]com.


We often publish pieces by guest contributors. If you’re interested in being one, please drop us a line at contact[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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brilliant! as usual.


I love the little spiral notebook idea…I’m totally stealing that one! Often I see ideas for gifts way earlier than I’m ready to start buying, and then forget when I’m out shopping. This should help. Thanks, Heather!


Great list, but, hey, what’s wrong with a crocheted saddle?! (Can you tell I like to crochet?) Just joking, my MIL tends to buy my daughter girly girl things and that is just not my daughter’s personality.


Gayle – You’re cracking me up. WHAT IS WRONG WITH A CROCHETED SADDLE? Obviously it is the lack of a crocheted horse.
Assertagirl – ME TOO. I always get great ideas about 4 months out.
Thanks Brenda!


Great list, Heather! We spent this weekend shopping with my spiral notebook in hand 😉
The “different wrap for different locations” idea is a great one – I will be sure to try it this year.

bethany actually

Yep, I am a list girl too. I keep a list of Christmas gift ideas all year long! And I shop whenever I see good stuff. I like your idea about coordinating gift wrap, too. Maybe I’ll get the chance to use that one someday, when I don’t SHIP about 80% of my holiday gifts. 🙂
I’ll add another one: don’t be afraid to shop online and ship directly for people in other cities/states!


I love the different wrapping paper idea. Ill have to remember that for next year (most of mine are already wrapped for this year!) THe spiral notebook is a life-saver!!