Cookie exchange deadlines, toy tantrums and other holiday fun
Let's be honest. This is crunch time for holiday prep. It would be nice to be sipping eggnog next to the tree, quietly wrapping presents while "It's A Wonderful Life" plays on TV. More likely you're on hold with an ambivalent 19-year-old at Toys "R" Us while contemplating the yield of an almond bark recipe. Or slyly online shopping when you're supposed to be preparing a year-end report. (Well, I've heard that people do that. It absolutely NEVER happens at the Star.)
While the heat is on for all of us in the run-up to the holidays, sometimes it seems the weight of holiday shopping, entertaining and baking falls squarely on a mom's shoulders (sorry, single dad and parentcentral.ca columnist Peter Ehrlich!). The trouble is usually that thing we agreed to that sounded like a fun idea but really ended up being a headache, like making 12 dozen of something for a cookie exchange, or organizing a school bazaar.
And, of course, the consumer train is chugging full-speed ahead. Despite the economic downturn, there still seemed to be a lot of toy commercials playing during Rudolph on Sunday night. At our house, we thought we had the Santa shopping all wrapped up, having heard Cameron ask Santa for a Playmobil Island Castle at a mall in Calgary. Now he wants a sold-out Lego Agents Mission 6: Mobile Command Centre, and seemed to struggle a little at the notion that Santa brings just one thing plus a stocking.
Check out our article on preparing children for a budget holiday. It offers some practical tips for keeping the "gimmes" in check. We also have an article on using Hanukkah theme nights to manage expectations and keep the holiday from becoming an eight-day festival of getting.
And if you're facing a baking deadline for a class party or cookie exchange, visit the Star's cool Cookie Advent Calendar, which offers a new cookie recipe each day between now and Christmas.
Consider doing less. Seriously. Because our Christmas plans were turned suddenly upside down by my father's passing, we're now staying in Toronto and going out for dinner, which feels right for our circumstances. And we're not the only people opting to let someone else roast the turkey. I sense a backlash against a Martha-esque meal effort. If you're up for it, great. If you're not, skip it! Should going out not be an option, buy a turkey roll instead of a whole bird (less waste and less time), or consider a grazing menu made of everyone's favourite appetizers, cheese and mounds of plump grapes and clementines. There are no rules. Make fun your M.O. and go easy on yourself.