Halloween, the holiday season’s official soft launch, is over. Time to move beyond the pumpkin and sweater fueled haze of fall’s happy, early months, and face the tough reality: the 2014 holiday season is here. Soon, the novelty of a good pumpkin treat will wear off as you force your third slice of Thanksgiving pie down your throat and that sweater and cute winter coat will be your only defense against hypothermia as you walk through snow-covered streets. And that bank account that had started to fill up again in the absence of all your summer trips? Presents, food, and Thanksgiving bus, train, and plane pricing will take care of that. But never fear! Sarah Robucks, sister of extreme couponer Mary, and holiday lover extraordinaire, has the ultimate guide to surviving the holiday season.
Hey there, folks! Welcome to the 2014 holiday season! You probably should have started preparing months ago, around January 15th, but hey, Netflix isn’t going to watch itself, am I right? I mean, sure, all those hours of watching Breaking Bad won’t get you a closet full of perfectly wrapped presents, a gourmet Christmas dinner, or even a token holiday boyfriend to show off to your judgey aunt, but isn’t that Walter White just a hoot? All that meth dealing to make money when my sister Mary could have shown him how to feed his family of four on just $5 a week!
But don’t you fret. I have all the holiday wisdom you need to make it through this year and straight on into 2015. And of course, now that you know better, you should start prepping for next Christmas as soon as you get through this one. Here are my tips for a holly, jolly Christmas. They’ll help you through economic insecurity, your family’s judgmental questions, and even your racist great-uncle’s glowering stare at your new Italian boyfriend!
1. I shouldn’t even need to say this, but the only way to fund a full a holiday meal is extreme couponing. Now I’m no pro like my sister, so I’ll leave the teaching to her, but there’s no need to pay more than 25 cents for any one food item. Ever. You’d be amazed at what a delicious holiday meal you can make with expired meat, dented, canned tomato sauce, and the Goldfish that are on special this week. And any whiners will be reassured with a tasty dessert: 2 for 1 yogurt that also has a half off coupon!
2. Extreme couponing is also a great way to save on gifts. Sure, your 15-year-old daughter may be upset that all she got this year was a 25 pack of Charmin, but she’ll need to wipe up all those tears with something, won’t she?
3. If you do plan on buying “real” gifts, make sure to take advantage of shopping holidays. Not just Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, but other national holidays, too. You’ve already missed Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, and Columbus Day, but what about Veteran’s Day? All of those soldiers didn’t fight and possibly die just so you could miss out Macy’s One Day Only Veteran’s Day Sale and the chance to save 30% off when you spend $150 or more on your Macy’s credit card. God bless America, indeed!
4. Now that we’ve gone over how to save some dough this holiday season, let’s move on to something more important: making your terrible life seem enviable to all of your former high school classmates and distant family members. First off, you’re going to have to work on improving yourself RIGHT NOW. Thanksgiving is just three weeks away. That gives you three weeks to get yourself ready to make Billy the quarterback rue the day he decided not to ask you to prom when he runs into you at your hometown supermarket or, better yet, the local dive bar. It’s best if you start dieting and hitting the gym really hard. I know “body positivity” is all the rage right now, but flat abs never hurt anyone, now did they? And while you’re on the elliptical, why not practice making your job sound way more important than it is? Here are some businessey acronyms to get you started: B2B, KPI, IPO. I also recommend replacing “assistant” with “associate” and “waitress” with “customer service representative.”
5. If you’re single, NOW is the time to start looking. If you’re still single on Thanksgiving, you’re practically guaranteed to spend New Year’s Eve alone, clutching a bottle of cheap champagne and softly crying in a corner while all your friends proclaim their love with a midnight kiss. So download no fewer than five dating apps on to your phone, but don’t stop there. Join singles social sports leagues, singles Meetup groups, and go speed dating at least once a week.
6. If you’ve followed my tips so far, you should be ready for a great holiday season. But don’t forget that while you’ve embarked on a path of money saving and self-aggrandizement, your family hasn’t changed. So when your grandmother asks why you didn’t bother to comb your hair, or your mother asks you where the bottom half of your mini skirt went, or your great uncle tells your new boyfriend that he looks “terroristy,” don’t forget the number one way to get through the holiday season with grace and poise: booze!
7. Most importantly of all, enjoy yourself! After New Year’s passes it’s just months of bleak weather leading into tax season. And the start of next year’s holiday preparation, of course!