Christmas via USPS

The holiday season is in full swing, if you’ve been to a store in the last month or two you may have noticed the progressively more aggressive red, white, and Santa themed items appearing. With Christmas comes Christmas gifts. As children we all knew the joy of waking our parents up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa had left us. Now we don’t get to sit back lazily with the innocence of childhood, we have to help Santa out.

I love giving Christmas gifts, finding something that a friend or family member of mine will like and seeing their face when they open it and realize that they’ll actually enjoy/use/like it as opposed to it being a hideous sweater is one of my favorite parts of the gift giving season. The only problem that this poses is that I need to be somewhere near these people in order to actually see the joy on their faces. My husband and I moved to Texas three years ago, and now that we’re here we’re at least three states away from the closest friends and family.

Every year we have to ship half the gifts, and pack the other half in our suitcases. We flip flop who we spend Christmas with each year. This type of Christmas poses it’s own specific types of challenges. Hello, extra luggage and budgeting shipping costs. With these surprisingly limiting factors in mind, here are a few ways we make the holidays work.

Utilize free shipping. When budgeting for Christmas no one things about how the gifts will get where they’re going. Usually because they get loaded up in the car along with the casserole to head to Grandma’s, but when you’re out-of-state you need to think about these things. Hitting the Black Friday sales means nothing if you spend all the money you saved shipping it. Depending on the size of the item shipping costs can get outrageous. We have Amazon Prime, and while initially you might balk at the $99 yearly fee I’ll tell you it is 100% worth it. We’ve bought 37 things from Amazon already this year, (I haven’t even started Christmas shopping) which breaks down to around $2.67 an item for shipping. Considering we’ve bought everything from a shirt to the baby’s crib, $2.67 isn’t bad. Plus, let’s not forget Prime has other benefits like… movie and TV show streaming, and the ability to rent books for your kindle-for free.

Gift cards are your friend. They are your buddy and your pal for long distance gift giving. “But they’re so impersonal!” oh really? You can send the gift card for the exact amount of a particular item, (remember to include tax on the gift card), and in the envelope with the gift card include a picture of the item. “I wanted to get you this lovely set of wine glasses, but I didn’t want you to open a box of broken glass. So please head on down to the store and grab a set that will make it safely home with you. Or pick up something you like even more” Boom. Thoughtful, you didn’t need to ship anything, and bonus if you’re a terrible gift giver and wine glasses don’t suit their fancy they can grab something else that they really want. Like wine.

No glass. Seriously. Pinterest and it’s adorable “mason jar” gifts or “cookie jar gift basket” sets are great and all but when you’re going to put it in a box and it’s going to get tossed in a truck and stacked under things glass, or anything breakable, is not something you’ll want to deal with.
Nothing says Merry Christmas like shards of glass! Right?

Think “true meaning of the season” Instead of gifts to ship, and gifts to pack I try to opt for something easier. A small box of homemade cookies, a thoughtful card on top, and in the card put a note about how you made a donation in the receivers name to a meaningful charity. Budget friendly, and everyone feels good about helping a worthy cause.

Christmas shouldn’t be all about who got what and gave what to who, especially as an adult. Don’t waste twenty bucks on little things people might not want or need. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate the company of (most) of the members of my family. And if not their company, certainly the stories their antics allow me to tell later. The most important thing to remember about the holidays is that it’s time for family (even the batsh*t ones), and being together. Be grateful for the time you get to share with your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Life is too short to worry about spending $25 on every person in your family. To many of them some quality facetimeing will mean way more than whatever you bought them. Buy memories, not things.

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