Growing up, the holidays were a time food, family, friends and gift giving. While it’s one of my favorite times of year, it can be stressful. The older I get, the more I try to approach this time of year like my mother.
My mom is as practical as anyone can be. She’s never been over the top with her gifts and doesn’t believe that one needs to break the bank to show they care. Her greatest gifts couldn’t be unwrapped or bought in any store.
My mom loved cooking big traditional Puerto Rican meals and having family over. There was music, arroz con gandules, pernil, pasteles and coquito. We’d sit around the table for hours after the food was served, laughing and talking. Bringing us all together, that was her gift to us.
And then at some point, we’d exchange gifts. Store bought gifts from my mother were always thoughtful, practical and something we always needed. I will never forget the year she bought all the grownups a 10-pack of subway tokens. She wrapped them in small jewelry boxes and said, “Just a token of my appreciation.” It wasn’t more than a $10 gift but everyone who received a token of my mother’s affection was grateful. Because it made their life, their commute to work a little bit easier.
Now I’m the one who cooks and invites them over for holiday dinner. As a busy working mom, this time of year can get hectic. So I need to think ahead and prepare for holidays con familia.
We don’t usually decorate until the second week of December. I just don’t have the time. But I prepare for the holiday season in other ways. The other evening we drove to BJs to stock up on some essentials like Scott toilet paper and Kleenex tissues.
Tip 1: Tissues Everywhere
Living in New York City, this time of year is the beginning of the sniffle season. Everyone is always coughing, sneezing or has a runny nose so I keep boxes of tissues throughout the apartment. When I’m sick I hate having to go from room to room looking for the tissue box. So this season, I’m keeping them within arms reach: on the bookcase in the living room, the entry way landing space, the bedrooms and the bathroom.
On days when Norrin has a cold or runny nose, a box of tissues by the door comes in handy.
My son, Norrin, has autism and attends a special needs school. In his class of six kids, there’s one teacher and two assistants. He also has a speech, occupational and physical therapist. There’s also the bus driver and matron. That’s a lot of gifts to give. But I don’t mind, they are the people who do so much for my kid.
I especially appreciate Norrin’s teacher. Since it’s sniffle season I’m sending his teacher a few boxes of Kleenex tissues as a classroom gift. It’s something thoughtful, practical and I know it will be put to use.
Tip 2: Keep the Toilet Paper Out
Holidays mean company – planned and unexpected. Company means the bathroom sees a lot of traffic. There’s nothing worse than using the bathroom (especially in someone else’s house) and using that last square of toilet paper. I never want to put anyone in that awkward position. So I leave a few extra rolls of Scott toilet paper visible to my guests.
Tip 3: Stock Up on Huggies Wipes
Norrin is no longer a baby but we still stock up on wipes. And I like knowing that if someone stops by with a little mover, I at least have something they can use.
I was lucky enough to have two baby showers. And at both showers, I received boxes of wipes and diapers. At Christmas whenever people asked what Norrin needed, I always said diapers and wipes, especially as he got older.
Having a kid with autism, potty training took us years. And Huggies is the brand I always suggest to autism moms potty training their kids. Buying pull-ups gets expensive. Especially when you have to keep a supply at home and at school.
If you know an autism mom potty training their child – give them a box (or 2) of Huggies Pull-ups, diapers or wipes. Trust me, I know they will appreciate it. (Heck, I know I would because at 9 years old, Norrin still wears a diaper at night.)
Being able to stock up on our favorite Kimberly Clark products at BJs makes it easier for me to spend more time with family and less time shopping for what I need to prepare for the Holidays.
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As a hostess, I want my family to feel welcome and loved. When it comes to gift giving, I try to keep it simple and thoughtful. It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about what you give. Those are the gifts I appreciate the most. And I learned that from my mother.