Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it can be stressful as well. Sometimes, people have expectations so high that they could never be met. Other times, it’s the little things that can pile up and just wear a person down. Here are some of those little things you probably want to avoid this year.
One too many trips to the punch bowl at the office party
Alcohol at office parties is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but there are still of few businesses out there who allow it. Small companies tend to have a feeling of close knit camaraderie that can amplify the decreased inhibition brought on by alcohol, and lead you to saying things you would otherwise not consider. Drinking at office parties is best done in moderation – your career will thank you.
Being too honest when opening a gift you really don’t want
You and I know that socks are a lame gift, but some people out there don’t. When you find yourself in the recipient seat of a lame-o Christmas gift, it’s best to just grin and bear it. A polite, “thank you so much” followed by a prompt re-gifting is probably best. Chances are, the gift giver is so socially tone deaf they won’t even notice that your “thank you” was delivered through gritted teeth.
Giving the gift of a fruitcake
I think Stan Lee said it best when he said, “’nuff said.”
Forgetting to say thank you
This is simply inexcusable. Modern society has become more coarse, and less well mannered with every passing year. Be a leader in putting a stop to it. If you have small children, reinforce the ideal of polite manners at least during the holidays, if not every day.
Not paying close enough attention to your purchases
Sometimes, we find ourselves distracted by other factors during the holiday season. This can lead to mistakes that may cause us to overlook the basics when buying an item. For example, I have this friend who recently took his family to cut down a Christmas tree. This friend was distracted with some silly, work type annoyances and didn’t realize that the 8 ft tree he was cutting down was really a 5 ft. tree right next to a skinny, 8 ft trunk that only had pine needles on the top 3 feet. The result was a very beautiful, very short white pine.
To add insult to injury, when I… I mean my friend… got the tree home and cut the bottom branch off so it would fit in the tree stand, he noticed there wasn’t another branch for the next 2 feet up the trunk. He was left with a 5 foot tree that only had branches on the top 3 feet!
All of this happened because… my friend was not really paying attention to what he was doing. The result was an impromptu outing to a nearby box store the next morning for another tree. Save yourself the headache of buying two Christmas trees, when you only need one – be focused on the task at hand.
Getting carried away with the spirit of giving
That old adage that it is better to give than to receive is so true – especially when giving to children. But getting carried away with the gift giving, and ending up paying for Christmas in installments stinks. Don’t get carried away and end up in debt. It’s simply not worth it.
Getting the gift you think someone should want, instead of the one they asked for
I love my sister in law, but she has this habit of “knowing what’s best” for someone. This extends to the gift giving arena, and often leads her to getting gifts for people that they didn’t really want. She believes that it’s the thought that counts, and putting the extra thought into a gift is more meaningful than a gift card. I get that, but not if it’s something the person doesn’t really want.
Using more vacation time than you need to
I love to take a week or two of vacation around Christmas and New Year’s. Spending time with my family, especially my two young children, is what make the holidays special to me. I know a lot of people who feel the same way. But before you block off those days on your calendar, make sure you aren’t using too many. For many full time employees, any unused vacation days are bought back from them upon their termination of employment. This can make a big difference if you get laid off from your job. It can mean another paycheck or two, depending on your circumstances. Of course, if you happen to work at a company with the “use it or lose” mindset, then be sure you use it.
Buying something just because it’s on sale
I am awestruck every time I hear someone brag about how much they “saved” on some sale item they didn’t need or want to begin with! Saving 70% on that new pair of shoes when you didn’t need them means you spent 30% more than you had to. Repeat after me: It’s only a sale if I need it!
Leaving nothing for tomorrow
It’s easy to blow through your budget before you know what happened, but don’t forget to save a little something for those after Christmas sales.
I personally think an office party, secret Santa type of gift is OK to re-gift. If it’s a close relative or friend, you should probably either let them know they screwed up, or grin and bear it.
Thinking it’s all about you
It’s not. It’s much larger than you. Christmas is about family and friends. It’s about the people in your community. I’ll leave the religious points for another post, but at the very least we should open our hearts and remember to face life with humility and a humble and thankful spirit.