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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blogcritics Rerun: Christmas Dos and Don'ts

  My first Blogcritics rerun post, How to Become a Web Designer, got a lot of hits.  It's now December, so it's the right time to rerun Christmas Dos and Don'ts, another article I wrote for Blogcritics.  Click on the link to read the original article.  Enjoy!


   It's getting close to that time of year again! The malls have been full of tinsel and bells for almost an entire month. HR departments are handing out days-off preference forms. Children are begging their parents for certain material things, and so are some adults. Christmastime is getting ever closer!

My Halloween Dos and Don'ts feature was rather popular. I can be counted on to have strong opinions about everything, so here are my tips for having a successful Christmas.

Christmas gifts are for wants, not needs.

   If you're considering getting anyone on your list white cotton socks, even if that's to accompany something else for the recipient, this tip is for you.

   Christmas gifts should be fun, they should be things that the recipient will find pleasurable. For children and adults alike, make a point of fulfilling their wants, NOT their needs. Video games often make great Christmas gifts, toothpaste seldom does.

   'But Kim, this person on my list is in poverty! They need toilet paper, because they can't afford it themselves!' If that's the case, still make their gift something they want. Giving them something they need is a very nice idea, but don't make that their Christmas gift. Give them the things they need at some other time, discreetly. Don't gift-wrap it and don't give it to them too close to December 25th.

Christmas gifts should be things the person wants to have, not things you think they ought to have.

   That's another mistake that's made way too often. If I like Hello Kitty merchandise, don't give me a plain wallet because you think it's more "adult" or in better taste. Get me a Hello Kitty wallet instead.

   If my fondness for black clothing is too much for you, Christmas isn't your opportunity to get me colorful clothing.
You're not going to change someone's taste with a Christmas gift. Don't even try, they'll resent you for that.

Get to know the recipient's taste as well as you can.

   Making assumptions about someone because 40-year-old Canadian guys ought to love NHL merchandise is an erroneous way to choose a Christmas gift. People often defy stereotypes and generalizations.

   I remember being an elementary school kid, and every June there would be some sort of craft to make for Father's Day. I remember one year, in kindergarten or Grade One (First Grade, to you Americans) we were given cardboard 'ties' to decorate.

   My father hates wearing ties. Even as a six-year-old, I knew that. Other elementary school years, we were given pencil cases to decorate with Father's Day-themed wallpaper or wrapping paper. The football, fishing, and power tool themed designs were all very inappropriate for my father. But he's a man! He's my dad! He's got to be just like Tim Allen!

   On that same note, if you think a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine is a great idea for me because I'm a young heterosexual woman, I've got news for you.

Avoid Christmas-themed Christmas gifts.

   That's a real pet peeve of mine. I do love Christmas, but only if the Christmas stuff is restricted to December 1st until December 26th. Getting me Santa Claus mugs for Christmas means I'm receiving them close to a time when I want to banish Christmas from my psyche, for the sake of enjoying Christmas next year.

   Christmas gifts should be enjoyable for the days and weeks after receiving them. So, resist the temptation to buy Christmas-themed gifts.

On a similar note, don't put up Christmas decorations too early or take them down too late!

   It's bad enough that retailers think they have to put Christmas displays up as soon as the Halloween stuff is taken down. Don't follow the lead of your local shopping mall.

   My secularized and commercialized experience of Christmas is a sacred thing. It's magical and fun only if it's special for a time-limited occasion.

   If you put your Christmas lights up on November 1st and take them down by the end of March, you have that stuff decorating your house for an entire THIRD of the year. It's not so special anymore, is it?

   My birthday is January 13th. I always tell people, the Christmas gift that the world can give me is to have all Christmas stuff put away no later than my birthday. Ideally, put your decorations and tree up during the first week or two of December, and take them down by December 27th.

With that in mind, be considerate of people who have birthdays close to Christmastime.

   Combined Christmas/birthday gifts are a huge no-no. Even though my birthday is a couple of weeks after Christmas, people are still tempted to do that to me. For people born even closer to Christmas, it's even worse.

   Birthdays, my own and those of others, are a big deal to me because it's the one day you can have made all about you, or all about them. Make sure that people in your life with birthdays close to or on Christmas day receive separate birthday cards and presents, at a separate time. That applies to children AND adults. If the person's birthday is during the week of Christmas, celebrate their birthday during a different week. A lot of Capricorns and late Sagittarians will thank you for that.

Acknowledge the different holidays of others in your life.

   Political correctness shouldn't get in the way of celebrating Christmas, but make sure that other holidays receive similar respect.

   For example, my stepfather is Jewish. Thankfully, Hanukkah is the first week of December this year, instead of being too close to Christmas day.

   I will get him a separate Hanukkah card and gift, and give them to him during one of the eight days. I will NOT get him a generic 'Happy Holidays' card on December 26th, when I visit my mother's side of the family.

   Acknowledge Ramadan for your Muslim friends. Acknowledge Diwali for your Hindu friends. I'd go out of my way to avoid giving anyone any generic anything. It's better to ask questions than make assumptions.

Don't be a perfectionist for Christmas.

   Too many people, women especially, think their Christmas entertaining should live up to Martha Stewart's standards.

   Setting the bar impossibly high will only stress you out. As long as you're able to get friends and family together, give them thoughtful gifts, and have some edible food, you're being a good host.

   You don't have Martha's staff or Martha's budget. As cliched as this might sound, the important thing about Christmas is to spend time with family and try to have fun. You can't have fun if you don't relax!

   If even one person takes my advice this season, I've done what I could to make the world a better place. Thanks for reading!

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