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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer

Holidays are Coming


Holidays are Coming. I’m not an alarmist, but we are a few short weeks away from the start to the holiday season (read: hectic, overwhelming, time-crunched, stress, guilt…). As a Fair Play Certified Facilitator, the Fair Play Method can be a game-changer when it comes to the holidays. A conversation now – before the holidays start – is key to a more peaceful season.

Conversations can head off misalignment between partners, roommates, family members, friends, and co-workers. We want to curtail the ‘I didn’t realize we were exchanging gifts’ or ‘But we always did it this way in my family’ discomfort.

  1. Expectations. What are our expectations for the season and how do they align with other stakeholders (partner, co-parents, family, childcare staff)? Will we be traveling or will we be in our home? Is this a time to hold new boundaries or honor standing traditions?

  2. Gift giving. What are the shared expectations around gift-giving? If you have welcomed a child this year, share your expectations with your partner, extended family and friends so gifts align with your values (price, quantity, who gets/gives). Oh, and who is going to build the gifts ahead of time or once opened?What is our Minimum Standard of Care (MSC) when it comes to gift-giving. What is our budget or age limit for gifts? Should we set a per gift price, do a white elephant, grab bag, select a single person to buy for in the group, or engage in other creative solutions to stay on budget? Pro Tip: For the smallest kids, store some of the abundance in the closet and ‘regift’ for their birthday.

  3. Gift wrapping. Do we wrap gifts (and who is going to do that) or do gift bags? (Target bags were always acceptable gift wrap for my mother-in-law and have become the family joke).Pro Tip: I have a friend whose family had wrapped boxes of various sizes stored in their basement that they saved year to year. When you wanted to ‘wrap a gift’ you merely picked the pre-wrapped box of the right size, put your gift inside and it was good to go. Genius.

  4. Holiday cards? Maybe; maybe not. Is our tradition better moved to New Year's, Valentine’s Day or summer? If we are going to take pictures, who is responsible for booking the photographer, styling the outfits, getting the haircuts (or not), and what is the expectation around everyone’s attitude for the shoot? After considering all of that, you may opt for no card or a card using a photo you grab off your phone and send electronically. Oh, and don’t forget budget: photographer, printed cards, stamps, etc.; it can be a meaningful expense to discuss.

  5. Holiday travel. Do we or don’t we? Fly or drive? If you haven’t booked a vacation yet, the decision may be made for you or may encourage a different type of holiday experience. Regardless, it is worth a conversation and aligning on expectations.

  6. Elves. If your childcare provider usually tidies up during nap time, could they address holiday cards or wrap gifts for you? What can be ordered and shipped online? Do we have family or neighbors that can assist with décor? Do we need to decorate if we are traveling out of town for the holidays?

  7. Holiday meals. If you want to bake or cook from scratch, then there is shopping and preparation ahead of time. And if you are open to potluck or catering, you want to discuss those norms to assure the rest of your group is in agreement..

  8. Charity. Do we do something charitable as a family or group – volunteer, donate, cook, feed or shop for others during the season? Align on what that looks like and what the expectations are around charitable and end-of-year giving. Can charitable donations be the gift in honor of some recipients?

I didn’t mean to add to the stress. A conversation ahead of time on these points (and others) will hopefully make this season merry and bright for all involved. And if you would like to do a Fair Play session, let me know.


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