Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

So, it’s the holiday season. Are you going crazy yet? Have you shopped till you dropped and still have people left to buy for? I know your pain, my friend, I know your pain.

But here’s the good news: I’ve got some suggestions for you to help lower your holiday stress.

First, remember perspective matters. That is, don’t focus on the fact that you feel obligated to buy for everyone and his brother, sister, and Aunt Frannie. Instead, give with an open heart and mind. When gifts are presented to you, smile and show genuine gratitude. Even if you don’t love the gift, you likely have some positive feelings about the giver. Remember that this person took the time to let you know they care. Loretta Snyder summed it up perfectly in her recent blog entry Accepting Bad Christmas Gifts with Grace.

“Think of the giver as you open the gift. Remember that he or she probably put a great deal of thought into picking that gift for you,” Loretta advises. “Let the love for the giver outweigh the revulsion toward the gift and you will be able to sincerely thank them. Then quickly direct the attention away from yourself.”

The next important thing is to GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! That’s right folks, I said it. Y’all know how I hate Black Friday, right?? Well, here’s my solution to the insanity of holiday shopping.

While you may have special gifts you want to buy for some of the people on your list, there are those who seem to have everything. Or what about Uncle Fred who never likes anything you buy him anyway, or your nephew the techie who has specific wants that leave you flustered.

Here’s a tip: buy a gift card. I know what you’re thinking–gift cards are dangerous. It’s all over the news–don’t buy gift cards from certain retailers because so many are going out of business and won’t accept their own gift cards.

Well, I was concerned about that too, so I did some research. I learned that what the media is spewing is largely untrue. While there may be some companies going out of business, the list is far smaller than the sensationalists claim. In fact, most of the retailers aren’t closing at all, and will certainly accept gift cards. Of course they will–they don’t want to lose their customers.

The other thing is that they let your loved ones shop online safely–offering protection against fraud and also (hello) letting them get what they want. Gift cards are also a great idea for those family members and friends who are super busy, or even those who can’t make it out of their homes easily.

In fact, according to a recent survey, gift cards are the top requested gift for the fifth year in a row. That’s gotta tell you something. Plus another survey says that more than 50 percent of gift recipients would actually prefer a gift card to another type of gift.

So, stop stressing over what to buy the teacher, baker, and candlestick maker. (Or bus driver, mail man, or minister!) Relax and get them a gift card. Imagine the time you’ll save.

Oh, I almost forgot! I found a cool website–GiftCardMall.com, which has just about any kind of gift card you could want. The best part is that you can order online and they deliver to your house. I even got free shipping. Talk about EASY!! I’m loving it.

Okay, okay lol. I’m getting off my soap box now.

I do have one last tip for you though. As I talked about in another post, try to remember the magic of the holidays this year. Think back to when you were a kid and how exciting it all seemed. Remember how you anticipated Christmas morning or Hannaukah or whatever you celebrate, and let yourself FEEL it.

Try to breathe, and if you find yourself stressing too much–try to change your perspective. Or, you could do what I do…walk around humming Yo Gabba Gabba songs.

My favorite goes,”Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts…that’s what you’ve gotta do. Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts…and a smile comes back to you!”

Y’all can thank my five year old for that one. LOL. Have a fabulous day, everyone, and remember to take care of yourselves!

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