Christmas Shopping Tips
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Purchasing gifts for the holidays can be overwhelming for a healthy person.  Add COPD to the mix, and you have a really big shiny ball of… stress!  So how do you eliminate the stress.  Here are a few tips.

1. Start shopping early. My mom had a skill that I have yet to master.  She would shop for Christmas all year long.  If she found something that was perfect for someone, she would buy it and put it up until it was time to wrap gifts to place under the tree.  Keeping Christmas presents in mind throughout the year allowed her the opportunities to grab things on sale as well.

2. Ask for help. As the years went by and mom’s health became worse, she was not able to keep her strategy working as easily.  It was during those last few years that she began learning to ask me or someone else to help her with the shopping.  Sometimes we would go to a store together, but really in the last year or two, she would give me a list, and I would do the leg work for her.  I know she felt that she was placing a burden on me, but really, I began to understand all that my mom did for my brother and I through the years when she was doing all of the shopping on her own.  How could I not give back to her?

3.  Shop online. This may seem like a “no-brainer” to most right now, but shopping online is still new to people around my mom’s age.  You may need someone’s help to go through the entire process, but “window shopping” online is easy and takes less energy than walking the mall.

4.  Draw names for gifts or play the secret Santa game. This may only work for families with more adults than children, but it can help keep the cost of gift giving down and the focus on family up.

When drawing names, write each person’s name on a small piece of paper.  Fold each individual name so that the name cannot be seen.  Each name should be a separate folded piece of paper at this point.  Place the names in a bowl or a hat.  Shake it up.  Then pass it around the room.  Each person that has a their name in the hat draws one name.  If they draw their own name, they must put it back and draw again.  The name on the selected piece of paper is the person that you will purchase a Christmas gift for.  In order to make this really work well, you need to place a price range on the gift so that some people will not get a $5 gift, while others receive a $50 gift.

Secret Santa games can be loads of fun.  With this game, you can bring a gift within a predetermined price range that can be given to anyone.  You can decide ahead of time the type of gift that should be purchased.  Since there are tons of possibilities, let me give you a few suggestions.  Useful gifts might include clothing, tools, wallets, and gift cards.  “Gag” gifts could include toilet paper with a can of air freshener, silly t-shirts and strange coffee mugs.  Each person that brought a gift can receive a gift.

Drawing names and Secret Santa games only work if everyone sticks to the plan.  If you are the type of person that just has to purchase a gift for everyone anyway, this will not work.  You will end up spending the same amount of money as if you had purchased gifts as usual, and you have the same amount of stress in trying to make sure all of the gifts are purchased and wrapped.  If the family decides on gift giving in this way, stick to the plan.

Celebrating Christmas has become largely commercialized, but there is something to the gift giving process.  It’s knowing that someone cared enough to find the gift, wrap it and deliver it.  It is also about spending time with those that you love.  We cannot lose sight of family during this time.  In the end, when all is said and done, things do not matter, only love.

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