Let’s face it, men. The holiday season is tough. We’re supposed to be happier about spending more money on stuff we don’t need for people we are not sure we even like. The Christmas lights are always tangled. It’s always -34 degrees when you finally decide to put the lights up. Add to that the Christmas parties, concerts, recitals, and all the Christmas cards you get in the mail from people your wife says you know but you honestly have never seen them.
I know how you feel. I’m here to help. I’m even going to make this easy for you. So pay attention.
Let’s start with presents. Gifts. Loot. We don’t buy for just anybody. However, if you find yourself in a position to HAVING to get a gift for someone other than family – here are a couple of suggestions that you can’t go wrong with.
1. Gift Cards – Amazon.com, iTunes, Starbucks.
2. iPad – this is not for you to buy one for your friends but mainly for your rich friends so that they will buy one for you.
For the wife:
No appliances of any kind. Do not under any circumstance buy her anything from Victoria or her secret. Jewelry is safe (but expensive). A night out without kids is relatively inexpensive and shows much forethought and care.
Depending on how long you’ve been married, you can try to do the whole — “I bought this for you but really for me” kind of gift. Stuff like a BluRay player, flatscreen TV, iPad or pretty much anything electronic but they see through this pretty quick. Fortunately for us, they love us anyway. You can get away with this a couple of times so choose wisely when to do this. It can’t be your go-to gift every year.
Girl — anything pink and/or a doll/figurine of some sort. This seems to work for every age except the ages of 16-21. Researchers are still baffled as to what works during these ages.
Boys — sports, electronics, jerseys, tickets to sporting events…basically, if you like it, he will. Regardless of age.
It’s a fact of life…you are going to have to attend a couple this year. So make the most of it.
First,know exactly where the host puts your coat. Do NOT miss this information. Nothing will drag out your escape longer than having to track down your coat. Do NOT do anything else at the party until you lock down where your coat will be stashed.
Second, head for the food. All the good snacks get sucked up first and you don’t want to miss out on them. Plus there will be other guys that don’t really want to be there and you might find a new friend.
Third, wear a team sweater or golf shirt so that you’ll have something to talk about other than work. And don’t be that guy that shows up to a party and then talks about work for 45 minutes. If you find that guy, find a bathroom. It’s about the only place he won’t follow you into. Then come out and scream in a Jim Carrey voice – “Do NOT go in there.” That will pretty much end the party night for you.
We all want more of it until we get it then we wish we had less of it. Couple of activities that will make this not only bearable but enjoyable.
Light Hunting. With a little internet search and investigation, you can find the cool houses with lights and music in your area. Put the kids in PJ’s and a thermos of hot chocolate and go light looking. This is good for about an hour.
We have two movies we always watch – Elf and White Christmas. Kids can barely make it through White Christmas but we make them. Elf is awesome. Awkward/Embarrassing Christmas Moment: A couple of years ago I grabbed all the kids and watched A Christmas Story as a family. 1. The TV version is edited, the DVD is not. 2. After the shock of a few words that I had forgotten, came to the painful realization that kids don’t like voiceover movies. A Christmas Story is not an English family tradition.
We also do a Christmas “real” movie together. With a family of 5, we don’t go to the theater often. Scratch that – we make it once, maybe twice a year. Much cheaper for us to wait till BluRay or DVD and watch it at home. But this has become a cool tradition for us – take an afternoon matinee movie the whole family can enjoy.
This year it looks like we will divide and conquer – Tron Legacy for everyone except Cayden. Cayden will have a special Nana and Cayden date with Tangled. It works out for us all.
Christmas Eve Service
We will be having ours at 6pm at Western Hills. It will be awesome, funny, kid-friendly. Not all services are this way. Some are very serious. However, fun or serious — you have to do this. Even a bad Christmas Eve service is better than no Christmas Eve service.
Awkward/Embarrassing Christmas Moment: Cooper dumped a whole tray of communion juice at a certain Christmas Eve Service. He was 4 or 5. It was awful in the moment but awesome now looking back at it. There isn’t enough money in the world to buy that kind of memory. So find a service, show up and really enjoy it.
They take forever to set up and prepare then 20 minutes to be done with. This is the best advice I can give you on this one — just enjoy the process and make sure somebody brought a pie. Enjoy a glass of wine or sparkling grape soda as you prep. We make the kids clean up while we enjoy conversation and dessert.
I hope this guide helps you over the next week. I welcome any comments, corrections, and additions below.