Minimizing Holiday Stress

bigstock-Christmas-Seamless-Pattern-Wit-24446030Shopping for the holidays puts many people under additional stress: from spending money they don’t have, to long wish lists from kids or family members, to the time it takes to fulfill these desires-turned-demands.

My first suggestion is to trim your gift-giving list. In our family, we went from buying presents for 15 people to just the kids, which was initially 4, and grew to be 6, but is still much more reasonable. Also, my husband and I don’t exchange gifts as we take a trip for our anniversary the next month, and his birthday is right around Christmas, so he gets a birthday gift, which is usually an experience (comedy club, weekend trip, performing arts event).

To trim things even further, use The Rule of 4. I didn’t make this up, but I sure love it. Here’s how it works: Every person that you intend to buy gifts for gets only 4 things:

Something you need.

Something you want.

Something to read.

Something to wear.

For a 12 year old child, this could mean: a graphing calculator for school, a video game, a biography about their favorite sports star, and a nice shirt.

For a 4 year old child: finger paints and paper, a special toy, a book about their favorite animal, and new pajamas.

For a teenager: a piece of luggage with a special slot for their laptop, a new laptop (hidden inside the luggage?), a book by their favorite author – or one that you loved at that age, and a leather jacket.

You’re not limited by amount spent in this way, but it will cause you to be a more creative giver and your recipients will have less “filler” or “junk” items that will eventually get broken and tossed out. You’ll save yourself countless dollars in the impulse-buy section of the checkout lane on things that are “so cute and just $5”, and your gifts will be more thoughtful. Win, win!


Thoughtful Gift Giving

I am one of the best gift givers most of my friends and family members know. I pay attention to the little details and give small, generally inexpensive, thoughtful gifts. I also give very few gifts, often a single item. This reduces waste and clutter, often re-purposing something from a thrift store or sale store into something unique and new, and leaves the recipient with no obligations to me or to display or use the gift. A gift, once given, is for the recipient to do with as they choose.

This holiday season, and going forward, I encourage you to use the Rule of 4 when giving to those that you would usually give abundantly. A child loves a pile of presents, but only plays with a few and it feels like a waste of time, money, energy, and storage to have such overkill. Give thoughtfully, and consider:

Money Saving Sisters

Something he/she Wants


Something he/she Needs

Something to Wear

Something to Read

It’s good for the pocketbook, the environment, teaching people to value what they have, and keeping the place tidy.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.