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Talk Now, Buy Later
"A lot of anxiety comes from not knowing how much to spend or whom to shop for," says Walsh. Rather than overshopping (and bemoaning the bill), Walsh suggests setting ground rules with family and friends. "Bring it up at Thanksgiving: 'What are we doing for gifts this year?'" Maybe it's Secret Santa or presents only for the kids or inexpensive gag gifts. "Talk with your friends about giving each other favorite novels, or having a cookie swap," Walsh says. "Being up-front strips away second-guessing and frees people to be more creative." The biggest guffaws at Walsh's last Christmas celebration came from a $5 mustache kit. "My 89-year-old mother with a cowboy hat and a mustache? Priceless."