It’s the holidays! This is my first year not working retail in four years, so I am excited! I’m bound and determined to have the best holiday season ever, and this is how I’m gonna do it. I love buying and giving presents to my nearest and dearest, but there’s a lot more to the season than just that!
1. Donate your time. I’m not saying you need to go volunteer for hours upon hours, but even something as simple as offering to watch a friend’s child for free or hanging out with an elderly family friend makes a huge difference.
2. Donate your belongings. Maybe you have a giveaway bag taking up space in your closet like I always seem to. Donate it now! Someone might think your old sweater is the perfect gift.
3. Donate food. A lot of people can’t afford the big fancy over-the-top holiday meals. Even a few canned items can make a difference, and at this time of year many grocery stores and businesses collect donations to give to charity.
4. Send out holiday cards to far-away friends. I LOVE getting holiday cards in the mail from my cousins and friends in other states. It’s a simple way to remind someone that you care.
5. Give the gift of “being there” instead of stuff. Give your time, your listening ear, your friendship to the people around you. Be there when your girlfriend gets dumped. Help a friend do yardwork. Take a stressed-out friend for a manicure.
6. Decorate! I just put up my baby pink Christmas trees and my little apartment feels so much more cheerful. You can find tinsel and other decorations for cheap at the thrift store.
7. Make a holiday playlist on Spotify. It doesn’t HAVE to be strictly Christmas-based music, but rather songs that put you in the holiday spirit. Listen to it often. You can look mine up on Spotify, if you need a place to start and like classic country music.
8. Allow yourself to have fun doing silly holiday activities. Go to Ugly Sweater parties (although I think these are cliché and terrible) and wear the ugliest one you can find. Let yourself get swept up in the season. Don’t try to be “cool” and above the holidays. Remember why you loved them as a child.
9. Watch your favorite holiday movies. I like “Muppet Christmas Carol” and for some reason, “Royal Tenenbaums.”
10. Throw a holiday party for your friends. You can do white elephant gifts if you want – but it’s better to each throw $5-10 in a pot and donate the proceeds to a charity of your choice. Make cocktails and hors d’oeurves. No one is judging you if that means Velveeta and Ro-Tel salsa chip dip. I’m actually coming to your party if it is. Play cards, dance and have fun together. I will take any excuse to celebrate and throw a little party!
11. Can’t afford fancy gifts? Who cares! Make cookies. Offer to clean someone’s house, babysit, or promise to take care of them if they get sick. Little kind gestures are the best gift, and you can make cute coupons to give out for them to redeem.
12. Give the perfect present. I like to keep a mental list (sometimes a handwritten one) of things my friends and family have mentioned they’d like, so that when gift-giving time comes around I know exactly what to buy!
13. A helpful tip: Boys love nice grooming products. They may protest when you give them expensive shaving cream and soap, but I promise you, they’ll thank you later. I’ve been giving my brother, dad and best dude friends fancy man products for a few years and they’ve all gotten hooked and ask me where they can get more. SUCCESS.
14. Appreciate people who have helped your career. Even a holiday card for your boss or mentor is a sweet gesture.
15. Don’t forget the people who make a difference in your daily life! This could be your barista, yoga teacher, mailman, stylist … give them a small gift of appreciation if you can’t give them extra cash.
16. Be nice. Just be considerate and kind to others during the holidays. Don’t freak out over little things. Smile at strangers. Be friendly to sales associates and cashiers; they’re stressed out, too. It’s not hard to be a nice person.