Here I hope to mix a little of the old ways with some of the newer ideas. After all you shouldn't have to wear track shoes and rob a bank to be able to pull-off a nice Christmas.
The First 10 Rules
Rule 2 - Have fun
Rule 3 - K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) Need I say more?
Rule 4 - Make plans A, B, and C, and if all else fails "drop back 10 yards and punt".
Rule 5 - If it didn't work last year the odds are it won't this year. If have stressed out every other year, think about what caused the stress, do something about it.
Rule 6 - Don't let your mockingbird mouth overload your hummingbird rear. Its too easy to say YES, when the mind, body, and pocketbook say NO.
Rule 7 - The early bird get the job done. Don't wait until the last minute, to locate items needed.
Rule 8 - One project done, is worth two ideas planed. Too many ideas can cause too many problems. See rules 3, 6 and 7.
Rule 9 - Recruit elf assists if needed, after all why should you have all the fun?
Rule 10 - What goes around, comes around, like many things such as fruitcakes, and good deeds.
2. Take a long hard look at the budget, how much can you really afford. Are you planning to pay cash or use the credit cards?
3. How much time will you have? Also what type of segments
are your available times in, such as one hour an a couple of nights a week,
Saturday afternoons, couple of hours every other weekend...
Older kids & teens: Send them to the mall/store with a small note pad. Have them write down the name of the item, store located in, department it can be found, and price.
Adults can be the hardest, if they have a hobby or sport
you have it made. If not, and they are one of those people that say "nothing"
or "I don't want anything" your work is cut out for you. Start watching
them as they watch TV, is there any commercials that perk up their ears.
Take or drag them if need be, to the store to help buy gifts for friends,
see if anything brings a twinkle to their eye. If it is your spouse, and
your in-laws are alive and speaking to you, pick their brain. Is there
something they wanted as a kid and never got? It may not be practicable,
but a special doll for a wife, or that special fire truck for a hubby,
may just fill the bill.
Culling of the list, start by taking off any items that out of the question. Than prioritize the items, first choice, second choice,...
If you have "peekers" in the family, strike up a deal
with a friend or two. Each one will baby site the other ones gifts.
Call stores to see if the have the item in stock and the price, then plan which stores you will need to go to. Remember if you have waited until after Thanksgiving, stores will be packed, parking lots will be full, and tempers run short. It may be well worth paying an extra dollar or two, not to have to go to an extra store.
If you only have a little piece of time here and there,
you may wish to do one store at a time. If you have a large chuck of time,
you may get it done in one trip.
If planning to be out for several hours, toss a snack and thermos your car.
Wear comfortable shoes, and clothing. Christmas shopping is almost a sport of its own.
Clean out your purse of any unnecessary items, like extra credit cards, pictures, make-up, and so on. This will lighten your load, and also if you loose your purse, cut down on the headaches.
Double check that you have your shopping list, checkbook and/or credit card(s) you are planning to use, and driver's license.
Make sure your car's trunk is cleaned out. NEVER leave items in the car.
Take a deep breath and smile and go for it.
Do something nice while you are out, it will make you
feel better and may be a nice surprise for someone else.
Or go for the big one: If you take a coffee/coke break,
and the person in front of you just orders a drink. Tell the cashier to
put it on your ticket, and tell the stranger Merry Christmas.
Kids: Doll clothing, stuffed animals, puppets, a special blanket, wooden toys
Teens: For many elves, all we have to do is go back to our younger days. Candles, oils, and custom altered clothing.
Adults: Baskets with a theme are great, and don't need wrapped. The possibilities are endless: munches, bath items, items for the home....
Something that can be real fun is to get several friends, co-workers, or neighbors together, and swap handcrafted items. You might make the best candy around, while your co-worker's husband is a marvel in the wood shop, and the lady down the street may be a master of the sewing machine.