Make it a pot-luck Christmas!

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‘T’is the season to be jolly’? Although the falling snow, thoughts of family members coming to spend time together, enjoying a home cooked meal with loved ones, and exchanging gifts of appreciation may foster the feeling, most people would agree that the Christmas season is actually a very stressful time.

‘T’is the season to be jolly’? Although the falling snow, thoughts of family members coming to spend time together, enjoying a home cooked meal with loved ones, and exchanging gifts of appreciation may foster the feeling, most people would agree that the Christmas season is actually a very stressful time. With the pressure of last minute shopping, the expense of buying gifts, decorations, as well as extra food and treats, plus keeping up with a busy visiting schedule, and the fear of not living up to expectations – all of this can be overwhelming!
Although the marketing and retail industries are responsible for a large portion of the stress we feel at this time of the year, can part of our Christmas anxiety be attributed to the demands we put on ourselves?
Everyone wants to give the ‘perfect’ gift, have the perfect tree, prepare a perfect Christmas feast, have the best decorated house, be the best host, have the perfect holiday outfit, and get along perfectly with our perfect family and friends. How can reality measure up to all of this?
The solution: relax and enjoy the company of family and friends, and remember that the world won’t end if everything is not absolutely perfect during the holidays. Shouldn’t Christmas be a happy, joyful time, rather than a chore?  
Instead of having one family member host the entire Christmas dinner, why not divide and conquer? Have each family member responsible for a certain dish: someone can be responsible for bringing and preparing the macaroni salad, another the stuffing, another the dessert, etc. And take turns cleaning up after meals. Working together toward a common goal can be very rewarding, and involves everyone in the process without placing the burden on one person.
If the financial demands of Christmas seem heavy, consider drawing names and buying for a single person. Instead of spreading your budget across a lot of small items, each person        presents one memorable gift. Not only will it cut down on expenses, it will also eliminate the stress of finding a gift for several people. Less can          definitely be more!
What is the perfect gift? Perfection is not always the most expensive – it is any gift that makes the receiver happy. Why not have your children create tree ornaments for aunts and uncles? Knit or crochet hats, socks, mittens, etc? or give out ready to prepare cookie or muffin mixes in nicely decorated jars, with directions? How about a lovely box of homemade cookies? The options are limitless! Gifts made by tiny hands always seem closest to perfection, at least to Grandparents!
Not only does giving handmade gifts save money, it’s a great way to involve children in gift giving, and it demonstrates that time and effort were put into the gift, beyond swiping a credit card.

Allyson Beauregard, Editor