My sisters call me the Christmas Nazi.
Probably not the most politically correct term, but it fits, considering I follow a strict list of Christmas rules that must be followed at all costs. My Christmas rules may sound harsh, but like any good discipline, they always pay off on Christmas morning.
Tis the season for sharing...Here’s Ten rules to follow to get the most out of your Christmas:
1. Fill a stocking.
I don’t care how old you are, everyone needs a stocking. To get a stocking, you need to make a stocking for someone else. Even if you are across the country. I’m shipping gifts to my sisters, and labeling specific presents as “stocking stuffers”. A stocking stuffer shouldn’t cost more than ten bucks, and there should always be candy involved. If you don’t have a spouse, children, or younger sisters, make one for a friend. Trust me. It’s fun and they will love it.
2. Do NOT purchase anything for yourself between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Breaking this rule sends the Christmas Nazi into a fit of rage. This is a time for others to buy for you. Don’t take away their joy of seeing you opening their hard fought for gift, by buying it for yourself.
3. Make a list. Collect a list.
This keeps you from the temptation of buying for yourself. If you think this is awkward because you’re 36, ask a fellow 36-year old for their list first. Gift giving sucks when you’re dropping $40 on something they’ll never use. It doesn’t suck when you find the $40 thing they really wanted marked down to $19.99.
4. Never open gifts early.
I don’t care if you’ve been convinced Christmas Eve is the preview to Christmas morning. Unless there’s a plan for matching PJ’s, Christmas Eve is for eggnog and looking at lights, not for sneak peeks under the tree. Let the suspense build.
5. Don’t buy a car. (Or jewelry with a comma in the price tag for that matter.)
It may look amazing on the commercials to see a Lexus with a big red bow in the driveway, but unless you’re in the millionaire tax bracket, a purchase that size should be discussed first - otherwise you run the risk of stressing out the person you’re giving it to. If you’re buying it for your kid, that’s not a Christmas gift! A car should be a lesson in responsibility. Kids earn cars, they don’t get them as gifts, even if parents are paying for them.
6. Sales are AWESOME. Take Advantage of them.
Crowds are no longer an excuse to avoid the deal, since you can easily get them online. I just bought a gift for a friend that’s going to arrive with some “freebies” in the mail. So not only did I get the gift the person wanted, but thanks to paying attention to sales, I’m getting that person a little something extra they won’t expect. Free of charge to me!
7. Never allowing shaking of gifts.
What is the point of spending all of that time shopping and wrapping to have some 15-year old walk up, shake it, and blurt out to everyone exactly what it is? The goal is to surprise people. To give them a moment of awe. Sometimes it’s the one moment of the year their surprise in life will actually be good. No one is EVER allowed to shake their gifts. I’m so big on this, I once hid a cell phone for Jessica in a large box and filled it with paper and weights, so she’d think it was a new coat. You should’ve seen the look on her face when she opened it! That’s a memory I hold dear to my heart.
8. Suck it up and fly home.
Home is where the people who love you are. Sometimes this means you’re going to put a grand on your credit card to get there. You can’t do this every year, but do it when you can. Even if you can only fly out Christmas Day and have to come right back. The people who love you, want to be with you. Make efforts to be with each other. Take turns. Don’t complain. My sisters spent one Christmas in an airport all day, but they made it to me before midnight. We ate cold turkey and they have a great story to tell future children.
9. Embrace “Friend Christmas”.
Sometimes the people who love you most aren’t related to you. And sometimes you just can’t get to family. That’s okay. Friend Christmases are some of the best. We aren’t our grandparents. Our jobs take us across the country and around the world. There’s thousands out there just like you with nowhere to go for the holidays. Open your home, have friends bring side dishes, desserts, and booze. It’s better to enjoy the people who are with you, than be sad over the people who aren’t. (*Playing a gift exchange game adds even more fun to this!)
10. Remember the point of Christmas.
A God became a baby because of love. Christmas is all about love. Giving is about love. Being vulnerable enough to receive is about love. Feasting is about love. Making room, time, and space to be with people you love, but may not like...is about love. Even if you don’t feel it...know it. You are loved. You were put here to love others.