At this time of year, it is so easy to get caught up in the stress of holiday gift shopping. The sales and atmosphere are intoxicating and the energy can make your head spin. Because there is an actual deadline for many, it can feel like we’re cramming for a test. It’s hard to be all “Zen” about the holidays but I’ve been working on this for years and here are some thoughts that might help.

Gift shopping is fun, but you are the best present, so do not get caught up in finding the perfect gift- something thoughtful will do. Think about your recipient before you go shopping- their likes, their hobbies and their habits- you may be able to tap into one of those. Is there a lack in your loved one’s wardrobe, household or experience? Maybe you can fill that in- whether it’s an item or an upgrade.

Also, keep in mind that there is no perfect gift- at least not every Christmas. There might be good gifts and pretty good gifts and there are gifts that are perfectly nice. Do not underestimate your recipient’s warm regard for you. And just for the record, many of us LOVE fruitcake- no joke.

Limit your gift dollars – it cultivates your creativity and prevents buyer’s remorse. Also consider going in with another family member for a joint gift to increase your buying power. My sister and I do that often for our mom, which enriches the gift in both depth and breadth.

Time with you is a great gift- think about a gift certificate of a lunch with you or an activity you can do together, like a museum or class. It’s perfect in the moment and also gives you both something in which to look forward.
Do not add to a collection, unless requested. At one point I had an antique glass chicken dish I cherished. My family then thought I had a chicken predilection and started gifting me with chicken themed items every birthday, etc. Something that was once charming started to explode in my kitchen and overwhelm me. I had to call a moratorium on chickens!

Pick a theme for gift shopping

One year everyone in my house got sweaters. It limited my searching to one category but still made it a bit of a challenge to find the right one. One year my mom gave all the grandkids slippers for gifts; they were the good quality ones that everyone loved and so it worked!

When it come to gift shopping, it doesn’t matter what you get or give.

My son gave me a pair of red leather mittens last year which were beautiful. I already have several pairs but these were my favorite color and I adore leather. I so appreciate his thoughtfulness. Out of season, I tuck these beauties in with their mates and in season, I rotate them into service. My son’s pleasure in giving and his effort was the best part of the present that year.

Obviously, you can feel a bit pressed for time at this time of year but I encourage you to do a little decluttering; it will set you free, physically and psychically. I especially encourage this for children’s toys but it can also be a drawer, a shelf or the bottom of your coat closet.

If you know things are coming in, then make actual physical room for them in your home. If you are hoping for some new books as a gift, then weed out a few from your shelves and donate them.

Take 15 minutes early in your day to liberate a small part of your home and lift your spirits. If you’re actually trying to avoid a particular chore, you can do a decluttering task instead. It’s a great way to procrastinate and yet be productive. It’s also a good way to clear your head for a few minutes.

Once you’ve reset, it’s easier to go back to your delayed task and you will have a refreshed mind ready to resume working. So in closing, streamline and organize your list before hitting the stores to reduce the stress and increase the joy of holiday gifts.

Happy shopping, happy holidays and happy organizing!