1. Try not to hyperventilate if the Santa at the mall has a pierced nose and a tattoo.2. Remember: No adult should have to watch Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or A Smurf Christmas more than once a year. Unless, of course, you really, really want to.3. As a general rule, people who already have everything don’t need more stuff. Give them a hug instead. It’s the kind of gift you’re happy when they exchange. Unless you have the flu. Then give them the gift of staying far, far away.4. When you go to the post office take a funny book and some holiday cookies. The book is to keep you from getting stressed out while waiting. The cookies are for the postal workers to let them know you appreciate how hard they work. And who knows, you bring enough cookies, maybe next time you’ll get to cut to the front of the line.5. Don’t go overboard trying to spruce up when friends and relatives visit. Here’s a simple tip: dim the lights and let guests think the dust is “fake snow.”6. Sign your kids up to be your holiday elves. Invest in some funny hats and then delegate some of your holiday chores. So what if they decorate the tree with iPods? It’s one less job for you!7. Wish everyone “Happy Holidays!” so you don’t stress out worrying whether they celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or Jimmy Buffet’s birthday (Dec. 25).8. Holiday shopping made easy in two words: gift certificates. They’re easy to wrap, inexpensive to mail, and no one will ever open one up and say, “What is it?”9. At family get-togethers, volunteer to sit at the kids’ table. You’ll probably have fun and maybe you’ll even get to play with your food.10. No matter what anyone says, you absolutely do not have to paint your living room red and green for the holidays nor do you have to grow your own fruitcake.
11. You can do most of your holiday shopping on the Internet – you’ll avoid long check-out lines, rude shoppers, and that feeling of being invisible that hits every time you try to find a sales clerk to help you.12. At parties, ask someone with a high metabolism to sample foods and tell you what they taste like. Then eat only the ones that sound really worth the calories.13. Wrap gifts in paper you salvaged from your own presents last year. You’ll save money and the environment. Sure, you’ll have to buy smaller and smaller gifts (because you have to cut off the worn edges of the paper), but remember – good things come in small packages.14. The only way to never have to untangle Christmas lights again is to leave them up all year. If your neighbors ask about it, tell them you have the holiday spirit all year round!15. If you’ve volunteered to be part of the live nativity scene at church, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. And be sure to use the bathroom before you leave the house.16. Never, ever, get your co-workers or your boss a gift certificate to the company cafeteria.
17. To avoid having to prepare beforehand and clean up afterward, hold your holiday parties away from home – a tropical island is nice, but not usually very practical.18. If you’ve ever burnt cornflakes in the microwave, you probably shouldn’t give friends and family stuff you baked yourself.19. Hide your gifts where the kids won’t find them, e.g., next to the vacuum cleaner.20. Never light the holiday candles under the smoke detector.21. If the angel tree ornaments you made last year turned out looking like some kind of experiment gone awry, just say no to craft projects.22. Here’s a list of excuses to get out of parties and get-togethers during the holidays:o While making home-made ornaments, I accidentally hot-glued myself to the table.o Fourteen of my nieces and nephews are visiting. Do you mind if I bring them with me?o I’ve been groundedo I have to go home to feed the reindeer23. If your house was mistaken for the airport runway last year, install fewer holiday lights on the roof this time around.24. Instead of sending out holiday cards, call friends and relatives. Just don’t call them collect.25. Still can’t decide whether to open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Maybe this will help: people who open their gifts Christmas Eve get to sleep in late on Christmas morning.26. If you come home from work to find geese a-laying in the dining room, call the Humane Society.27. Make this holiday the one you try something you’ve always wanted to do, like singing in Handel’s Messiah, tobogganing down the biggest hill in town, or wrapping yourself up and shipping yourself UPS to Hawaii.28. If it’s too warm in your part of the country to make snow angels, make snow-cone angels.29. “Goodwill to all” is a great phrase to remember when doing your holiday shopping. You’d be surprised at the great buys you can find in second-hand and thrift stores. Put your purchases in nice boxes and no one will be the wiser.30. Tell Santa what you really want for the holidays is a nice relaxing massage31. The simplest way to make your home say “holidays” is to keep a pan of water and cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove. Go ahead and dab some behind your ears; maybe you’ll get lucky under the mistletoe.32. So what if your Christmas letter is two years behind? Just think of all the exciting news you’ll have if you wait another year!33. Get together with other parents in your neighborhood and assign one parent to look for each “must have” toy. This will increase your chances of getting that special gift and decrease your chances of being caught in a stampede of desperate parents.
34. Eggnog in a carton is just as good as homemade. Plus, hardly anyone gets food poisoning from the store-bought kind.35. Only buy gifts for people you really like.36. Remember: No one’s family is perfect, even during the holidays. As long as no one attempts to ride the neighbor’s plastic reindeer or ends up on America’s Most Wanted, be happy!37. The best way to set a sumptuous holiday table: take out.38. Let your spouse take more responsibility for holiday activities. And don’t criticize his wreath made of screwdrivers and duct tape.39. Never sing a long with to Alvin the Chipmunks Christmas carols while in line at the post office. You’re just asking for trouble.40. If you don’t do well with crowds, avoid the biggest shopping day of the year, tet your gift buying done during less-crowded times, such as July 4th.41. Just say “No” to parties you’d rather not attend. If you have trouble with the word, remember, it’s actually shorter than “Yes.”42. To avoid possible trouble with young kids and pets, don’t decorate indoors with plants that could endanger their health, such as holly, mistletoe, and Venus flytraps.43. To lower your stress, take plenty of nice long hot baths. Light a few cranberry or cinnamon candles and hang a sign on the bathroom door that says: “Mrs. Claus is on her break.”44. Don’t put on extra holiday pounds: hire a designated eater.45. Wear a funny button while shopping to remind yourself to take things lightly: “Lost: Holiday Spirit, please return to owner” or “Been there, bought that.”
Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant is a humor and stress management expert. Visit her website at web: accidentalcomic .com