Surviving the holiday craziness

craziness holiday madness
What are you guys up to now that the holiday shopping craziness is in full swing? Although I should have known better, I made the mistake of going out to a busy shopping area (to our new Aldi’s) Friday after lunch. A 30-minute trip turned into an hour-plus adventure, including seeing drivers at their worst and sitting through four rotations of traffic lights. Yikes!

I’ve done online shopping mostly over the years, but always try to buy gifts over the course of the year and stick them back. However, that did backfire for me one year: I forgot where I put some of the gifts and had to to scramble to get new, different stuff. Then a year later, as I’m digging around, I find the items. Whew — thank goodness nothing was perishable!

Anyhoo, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost my appetite for facing the holiday crowds, but occasionally I’ve ventured into the big city early on a Sunday morning to get a few things and then hightailed it out of there before traffic got too hairy. Or I might go early on a weekday, after school has started and folks are already at work.

But forget doing any shopping at night. Especially after dark, I’m quite happy to curl up on the couch in our formal living room with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and read, or just sit and enjoy the beautiful lights outside and on the tree.

Speaking of Christmas trees, we’ve always gotten live ones — love that smell! — but are toying with the idea of an artificial one one of these years, especially once my son is off to college. Any thoughts or suggestions?

What about you? How’s your holiday season going so far? How are you handling the holiday craziness?

  • Ingeborg says:

    I actually like to go shopping for Christmas presents. Our shopping centres aren’t enormous and apart from the last week or two before Christmas the crowds are tolerable. Better to see the goods and be able to touch it before buying than ending up having to return something bought online. Also, picking up parcels at the local post office (yes, we still have one) is somewhat of a nightmare, but having parcels delivered on my doorstep would cost a lot extra.

    No room for a real tree in my small flat, it would block the door to the balcony I tried a tiny potted tree some years ago and ended up with flies inside in the middle of winter, so I have seriously looked at some of the designer trees made from twigs, but how to store the thing from January to December? So some ornaments on the mantlepiece, on a small table and on top of the bookshelf will have to do. I do love using some old ornaments, I don’t really buy into trends when it comes to this particular holiday.

  • Musette says:

    Our house is so tiny – and the dog is SO big – that the idea of a tree just gives me hives. Any tree. Plus I get real sick of Christmas real fast. For real. So we (I) just decorate the parson’s table in the ersatz dining room. Takes about 10 minutes and I’m done. Cute little ornaments, whatever I find still hanging around upstairs (we’re starting reno so who knows where all the ‘real’ stuff is). That’s pretty much it. It’s too cold to consider doing more than just walking the dog around the park – and even she thinks that’s a stupid idea. We walk FAST these days. FAST!

    Happy Hollerdays! xoxoxo

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, darling! I don’t blame you one bit; in your situation, what you’re doing sounds very, very sane. And as cold as it is for you guys, the less time outside, the better for all concerned. Sending you warm hugs …

  • solanace says:

    We decorate a tropical plant cut in the shape of a pine tree. Quite cheesy, I know. But we like the 70s and camp culture. 😉
    Being such a ludite, I cook homemade gifts every year (poor friends). This year it will be sweet & sour spicy nuts (at least they’re good) in a cute Japanese style handmade ceramic bowl. Hubby is getting a nice old edition of Marcus Aurelius Meditations. I always give him books I want him to read- awful, awful wife, yeah, I know that too…

    Happy hollidays!!

    • Ann says:

      I love that tropical “tree,” Solanace — so fun!! And I think it’s great that you make your own gifts — I always love homemade goodies. If I ever quit work and retire, I’d love to spend a week in the kitchen making holiday treats. Happy holidays to you, too!

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    Ann, I have also bought gifts–way ahead of time–and stashed them, only to forget where and what the are! I’m not buying so many presents nowadays; my nieces and nephews are all grown and no little ones around. Everyone in my family is saying “we don’t need more stuff!”, especially me. Husband is depressed, so I can’t get him interested in a tree and he says he doesn’t want anything. I plan to get us some tickets to concerts, theater, etc., maybe go out to dinner a few times (we don’t eat out too often). Maybe I can find some balsam spray, that would be nice.

    Wearing L’Artisan Tea for Two (original) this morning.

    Lots of love and warm wishes to all of you for a healthy, happy holiday season!


    • Ann says:

      Oh Queen Cupcake, you’ve made my day — so glad to know I’m not the only one who does that! Go get some pine/fir spray, get your tickets and restaurant cards and go have a ball this holiday. You’ve inspired me to go get my Tea for Two on tonight, too! Sending hugs and good wishes right back to you, dear!

  • AnnieA says:

    Fake tree and Frasier Fir candle work well. If you miss the scent you can buy a couple of boughs and put in a big vase.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, AnnieA! I do love me some Frasier Fir goodies, too, and I like the idea of the vase. That would be perfect. Thanks!

  • jenbat says:

    I guess my hubby is more of a sentimentalist than me, cuz this year I was all about ditching the tree for less work, but he cried “Noooo!” and so we have a real tree, although just one of these years I would like one of those flashy iridescent white plastic ones with pink lights! I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to shop this year, so I got my loved ones one good gift early instead of a dozen little things. I hate the mall on the best of days, so when it’s busy? Forget it!

    • Ann says:

      I hear you, Jenbat — some years I’m so tired that I’m kinda half-hearted about it, but the holiday bug always bites the DH hard, so I go along and it’s all good. You would totally rock that white and pink tree (if you do get one, pleeease post a photo here and share)! And smart of you to gift early; that way they can enjoy their goodies for much longer.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    I just finished my Christmas shopping today. I did all of it online and didn’t have to face the Mongol hoard this year. I wasn’t up for going with a friend this year and his dad’s controlling behavior (said friend is autistic). So all that is left for me to do is wrap the gifts and I can call it a day.

    • Ann says:

      Good for you! That’s pretty sweet that all you have left is the wrapping. Enjoy your time off for the holiday and spritz something wonderful!

  • HeidiC says:

    We have a real tree this year, for the first time in YEARS, which was heaven for about 5 days and now is projectile shedding needles with still a week to go until Christmas! Seriously, if you touch a branch, it explodes in a clatter of needles. Waaaahhh! I still love real trees, so I think next year I’ll just try not to jump the gun so far ahead.

    The last couple of days, the windchill has been colder in Minneapolis THAN ON MARS. We have not left the house in 2 days, which has been pretty lovely, even if my preschooler was kind of climbing the walls today. But anyways, not going out, much less going Christmas shopping. I think we’re done, though — I’m trying to stick to a plan of 4 gifts for each of us: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

    • Ann says:

      Poor baby! I feel for you guys having to deal with the mega-cold weather. But it sure feels like Christmas. I like your four gift criteria; might have to try that next year. Thanks, dear, and merry Christmas! I know it will be a fun time with your little one.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Ann,
    No worries about the shopping, all done. Everyone is getting posh candles and natural hand wash except for three notable exceptions who are also all bought for.
    As to the tree. The real ones smell nice but are way too much trouble and I feel bad chopping a beautiful tree down when it will only be thrown out in 3 weeks. I feel the same about flowers, so we try to buy plants instead. We have had our tree for years and we use the same decorations every year, the only thing we had to replace a couple of Christmases ago was the string of lights which I’d had since we were kids.. I know, ultra predictable but it looks nice to me and goes away in about an hour.
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, dear! Sounds like you’ve got the perfect set-up there. And you have done very well to have those lights last so long — it seems like ours only last a season or two, then it’s replacement time.

  • Koyel says:

    We are Indian, so my parents have had an artificial tree all my life 🙂 They are very nice trees, more lush and symmetrical and tall and green than real ones, and (more importantly for my other) free of insects or other bits of nature. I think the one that is currently blinking away beside me is 8′ tall. It came laced with Christmas lights, which was a good idea, because they really managed to get the lights all the way inside the branches. However, this makes finding the ends of the strings to plug in a challenge each year. Also, each section is massively heavy, and difficult for me to haul up the stairs from the basement each year. All in all, though, there is nothing at all wrong with an artificial tree! If you miss the tree scent, you can compensate with a nice diffuser/candle/room perfume.

    • Ann says:

      Koyel, thanks so much for that info. Real or artificial — they both have their pros and cons. But it is nice that you don’t have a big ol’ mess to deal with after the holidays.

  • bevfred says:

    How to deal with the holidays. First, the hot chocolate should have some Cointreau in it. Need I say more?

  • tiffanie says:

    I visited the shopping center on Friday afternoon. It was a bit of a zoo. I sniffed fragrances at Sephora and Nordstrom then walked from one end of the indoor mall to the other, dodging strollers and crowds of people carrying their purchases.

    We have had an artificial tree for four Christmas seasons. I am very happy with it — no needles or sap on the floor, no water in the stand, no pollen and dust to aggravate my son’s allergies. The tree is from Target. It was not expensive, looks quite nice, has held up very well, and goes back into the box after the holidays. I scent the air with balsam fir essential oil or buy a fresh wreath to hang in the house.

    • Ann says:

      Tiffanie, you are spot-on — it really is like an obstacle course this time of year! Thanks for the heads-up about the tree; didn’t know Target carried them. Will go check it out.

  • Tara C says:

    I avoid shopping malls like the plague from Thanksgiving to New Year’s – online shopping only. I buy early, usually start in October, to avoid last minute stress and difficulty finding what I want. It’s been cold this week so there has been a lot of cuddling up with the dogs under a blanket and reading. We don’t celebrate christmas but I do like the scent of pine – got myself a rollerball of Demeter Siberian Pine to sniff. 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Ooh, Tara, cuddling up with the pups sounds so nice. As does that Siberian Pine — yum! Enjoy! And yes, starting early is the key.

  • Claudia S says:

    I feel the same way about malls-timing is everything. Regarding the tree, I’ve done both. Pros and cons for each, of course but one thing to remember about a sizable artificial tree. They’re heavy, and putting the bottom section into the stand is a project! Anyways, Merry Christmas Ann!

    • Ann says:

      Amen, Claudia, amen! I agree with you that putting the artificial tree together could be a bit of a chore, esp. if you were having to do it alone — yikes! Merry Christmas to you, too, dear!

  • rickyrebarco says:

    I went out and braved the crowds 2 days last week to buy clothes for a family my office adopted for Christmas. The family didn’t have any funds for clothes or Christmas so we all bought stuff for them and I had a great time buying clothes for 2 girls, 9 and 10 years old. BUT I didn’t realize how crazy it was going to get at Old Navy. Wow. I just barely escaped a 40 minute long wait at the cash register Wednesday night. This is why I always shop for myself online!!

    No tree for us this year, but it’s all good. I am getting in the spirit by giving to my local animal shelter, too. My family is totally impossible to buy for so I just give my son $. I bought hubby some really nice boots in November so he’s taken care of. And I bought myself some wonderful perfumes (of course!) Ginger biscuit new big bottle from the Jo Malone store in London. I do a happy dance every time I spray it on. That’s my Christmas scent this year!!

    Happy Holidays to all!

    • Ann says:

      Yay! That is so nice of you! Our church’s youth group did that with a family; instead of exchanging names and buying wacky gifts, each teen bought something from the family’s wish list for them. And I know the animal shelter really appreciates it as well. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I hear you on the narrow escape at Old Navy — whew! 🙂 And enjoy that Jo Malone — sounds scrumptious! Happy holidays, dear!