I have made my share of Christmas mistakes and witnessed many more.
Christmastime should be filled with happiness, abundance, cheer and good feelings. Not anxiety, jealousy, fear, despair, exhaustion and frustration.
The last 14 years I have been having great Christmas's. Better than as a child. Much better than as a married man. Even better than as a young man.
I used to hate December and sometimes still have nightmares about the hard times of my marriage.
But those bad days are firmly behind me now. I consciously desire to have very nice holidays and structure how I do things to make my Christmas seasons as rewarding as I can.
I have observed what seems to help the most and what seems to hurt people the most around Christmastime.
The Christmas tree placement kind of makes or breaks your holiday spirit.
The biggest mistake is to place the tree in a part of the house that isn't used that much.
It should be right in the room you are in the most, so you can see it and enjoy it and soak in the holiday spirit.
Many people put the tree in the unused part of the house. This is a huge mistake if you want to get into the holiday spirit.
If you have a family room where you spend most of your time, put the tree right there. Take something out of the family room to make room if you need to.
Growing up we had a family room and living room. The family room had the TV, the comfortable couch and chairs, it was right next to the dining room and kitchen, with an open concept. You could be preparing a meal in the kitchen and see the TV. It even had a big wood burning stove. When we were inside and not sleeping, that's where we were.
But we also had this gigantic living room on the other side of the house. It was quite nice, but never used.
So, that's where we set up the tree. Right in front of the big picture window. So it looked great at night from the road. And it was always nice.
But, we didn't really go out into the living room that much.
We gathered around it Christmas Eve night to exchange some family gifts. We spent Christmas morning there if there were some Santa gifts.
But in the weeks leading up to Christmas we rarely went out there. Maybe to place a wrapped gift under the tree. But then we'd hustle back to the family room to relax and watch TV.
Later in the day on Christmas Day, it would almost be like Christmas was over.
So not being around the tree for many weeks and hours each day did not make it seem like a long Christmastime.
It's best to start decorating at Thanksgiving time and then keep everything up as far into January as you can.
An artificial tree helps with this as you can avoid all the work involved with tending a real tree.
I don't like to work really hard for hours on end on extra things like Christmas decorating. I prefer to work on the tree and decorations little by little over time.
My Usual Time Frame
What should be a pleasant, joyful experience of picking out well-thought out gifts for your most special people in a relaxed, unhurried pace, often is not.
First, you should only give gifts to your most special people. How can you expect to have any kind of a thoughtful gift to someone you barely know?
So I don't.
Also, even if your most special people may not require a gift. My best friends and I do not exchange gifts. We all have children and family to give to.
If I am forced to give to other people outside of my special circle, I give food or drink gifts that the person can use up or easily re-gift.
I focus my gift buying on my 2 precious children. And even though they are adults now, I love to buy them a number of gifts for Christmas.
I have a few more family members I give to. But on a much smaller scale than my kids.
The key to good gift giving is knowing about the person, observing what they have and don't have. Knowing what they like and don't like. Providing some guidance and recommendation to them in the form of gifts. Listening to them and their desires.
And most importantly doing this all the time.
Don't just start thinking abut what to give in mid December. Think about this year around and make notes in your Planner Book. Then it's just a matter of opening your Planner Book and getting things they would like effortlessly and going shopping.
If your children are young, take them shopping with a small pad of paper and pen and take note of what they are drawn to. Between your observations, written notes and some quickly snapped phone pictures of the items, you can capture all kinds of good information about what they truly want.
You would also be doing some internet research on hot items, wholesome and educational items to round out a nice Christmas selection.
One of the best parts of being a dad is seeing the absolute joy and gratitude of your small children when they receive wonderful gifts of what they truly want. It's special, especially when you see your kids happily playing with their gifts for hours and hours.
When people ask what you want for Christmas, tell them.
Don't say...surprise me.
Don't say...oh, don't get me anything.
Tell them. Develop a little list of things you would be getting for yourself anyway at some point. And just hold off on getting those things until after Christmas. Give people the joy of giving you something that you truly want and can use.
You may need to develop multiple lists for the multiple people who usually buy for you so they don't double up.
The opposite of this is receiving some worthless gifts you have to pretend to enjoy receiving and then agonize on how long you need to keep it until you throw it away.
Christmas costs. So, set aside plenty of money. It comes every year, it should not be a surprise. At a minimum, get ahead on your normal bills and have some credit available to take you through the season with the goal of paying this off as rapidly as possible.
I keep a section in my Planner Book dedicated to Christmas. This is where I store a page dedicated to ideas for next Christmas and where I track what I give to everyone on my list as well as how much I spent on each person. This is critical to keep your spending under control as well as giving in a fair manner. If you have 3 kids, you shouldn't give one much more than the others for example.
One of the best parts of Christmas is that most people tend to try to treat others a little better, be of good cheer and generally in a good mood.
Most people, but not all people. We've seen the horrible videos of people actually fighting in stores while Christmas shopping.
Sometimes you get caught up in bad situations that make your Christmastime life very unpleasant.
A few years ago in the gap between the job I'm in now (my favorite job) and another very good job, I had a work deadline in early January. Instead of taking off for a week and a half as I had planned over the holidays, I ended up working almost the whole time, spoiling my entire holiday and not making the deadline anyway and suffering all the repercussions of a work failure.
Many people get very anxious over the holidays and feel enormous pressure to be everything to everyone and do too much.
As I describe in my book - Leave Your Wife & Become a Happier Man With the 3 Step System, my wife felt this way and increased her verbal abuse assault on me during the weeks leading up to Christmas so I hated December and Christmas for nearly two decades.
Personally, feeling so happy around Christmastime now after suffering for so long is very sweet,
What you want is to get the feeling of Christmas...peaceful, beautiful, content, relaxed and happy.
If this is not your experience, you know your life is in serious need of fixing.
You need to make a serious study of your life and fix your Christmas mistakes.
The only way I could become the happier man I am today was by leaving my wife. You might be in the same situation I was in. I suggest you take a look at my book - Leave Your Wife & Become a Happier Man with the 3 Step System.
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