It’s right around now, in the final 10 days before Christmas, that the holiday gift-giving panic sets in. If you’re like me, you meant to shop earlier, but life got in the way. Now, you find yourself with a half-formed list of ideas for your loved ones and zero time to track the items down. Don’t worry: There’s still time to reboot your strategy. A self-imposed set of rules can make your shopping a lot less stressful, and if you suspect your family members may be settling into an equivalent panic, you might be able to band together to dodge the madness this year.
Over the years, my own family has experimented with different ways to restrain the holiday excess. Motivated by frugality, earth-consciousness, and a war on clutter, our first attempt at breaking the gift-giving tradition was to limit each family member to just one gift (of course, everyone cheated in little ways, tucking small gifts into boxes with the “one” gift or buying a set of things as “one” item). We’ve experimented with other ways of curbing the tide of stuff — some more successful than others — and along the way, I’ve learned that communicating with your family is key. While it may be too late for your clan this year, you can certainly raise the idea now for next, and you can set rules for yourself as practice.
Ahead, eight creative ways to keep Christmas craziness in check.