Arts and Entertainment

Invoking the Sanity Clause

Christmas is a magical time – and one when stress levels can reach record highs. With some forethought, your holiday can run as smoothly as freshly iced cookies. Here are tips to keep you from dipping into the eggnog too early and too often.

‘Christmas exploded in my living room’

So you grew up with a grandmother who called out “Save the paper!” each time a gift was unwrapped. Turns out Grams was “green” before her time.

Gift wrap is easy to reuse. If you want to remove the creases, the paper can be ironed on a low setting on the reverse side. Grams will feel validated and the landfills will be less full. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away about one million extra tons of trash per week.

Make designated piles. One pile for gift wrap you are saving and one for gift wrap you are recycling (many papers without metallics are recyclable). Also, get cardboard boxes ready for recycling by breaking them down.

Have a trash bag ready for items you can’t recycle. Keep a shoebox handy to collect reusable ribbon.

Small items like jewelry and gift cards are easily lost in the Christmas shuffle. Use a bowl to hold the small items until they are moved to their permanent home.

Good Manners Start Young

A heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way when receiving a gift. Teach children the importance of verbal thank-yous as well as written ones.

To prevent uncomfortable moments, talk to children about how to handle receiving a gift they don’t want; role-play the different scenarios. Ask your child: “Pretend you open a gift from Aunt Marge and it’s a package of underwear. What do you say and how do you act?” Set good examples – and practice what you preach when you open up that box of nails from your father-in-law.

The gift that keeps on annoying

Many retailers have changed their return policies, but gift receipts make the return process much easier.

If you don’t have a receipt, be prepared to for store credit.

Or consider donating that unwanted gift. Non-profit organizations throughout Kitsap would be thrilled to receive a new item to stock their shelves.

Re-gifting is perfectly acceptable if you can answer “yes” to these two questions:

• Is it something you would have purchased for the person anyway?

• Are all traces of it being given to you removed?

Check for tags. The last thing you want is for the new receiver to find evidence that you re-gifted.

If it is truly too hideous to regift or donate, stash it away for your next White Elephant gift exchange. Often the best and funniest gifts are previous gifts.

Preventing Toy-Related Headaches

Today’s toys are packaged so securely, opening them is like breaking into Fort Knox.

Proceed with caution! That hard plastic packaging can cut like glass and cause injury. Adults should handle opening the package with a good pair of scissors.

Have both a flathead and Phillips screwdriver on hand. Many toys require a screwdriver to access the battery panel. Which leads to the next sanity-saving tip….

Buy batteries. Before wrapping up the gift, make sure you have the right amount and type of batteries on hand.

Nothing is more disappointing for a child than to have their toy sit useless until a grownup can make a “battery run” to the store.

Before the needles fall off

When it’s time to return your home to its pre-holiday state, many area Boy Scout Troops offer Christmas Tree recycling.

Troop 1506 will pick up Christmas trees in the neighborhoods surrounding their Scout Hall in Tracyton. Trees need to be out on the curbside by the morning of Jan. 8. Attach a donation to your tree. If you don’t live in the neighborhood, you can drop off your tree at the front door of the Scout Hall at 5146 Bunker Street. Please leave a donation in the mail slot.

If you live on Bainbridge Island, Boy Scout Troop 1564 will come pick up your tree from the curb on Jan. 8. Contact them at (206) 780-2722 or to schedule a pick up. A $10 donation is requested.

Local transfer stations also recycle trees, check with the one in your community.

Once life returns to normal, and “Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer” no longer plays on the radio, may you look back on the Christmas of 2010 fondly – and without thera

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