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Kimberly In The Media

The “Wow Factor” and The Holiday

Ease Holiday StressThis is the time of year when expectations run high, and it’s easy to fall victim to the thinking that if we don’t do something perfectly, we’ve ruined Christmas. That’s why this is the perfect time to employ the Wow Factor. I didn’t invent this principle – I first heard about it in the book The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn – but I think it’s particularly applicable around the holidays.

What this principle does is allow you to recognize the value in your time (or money, for that matter), and whether or not spending it on a certain activity is worth the amount of “wow” you’ll receive in return for your efforts.

Let’s consider gift wrapping. There is a certain Wow Factor in seeing all those pretty parcels decorating the bottom of the tree. Let’s say your enjoyment of those wrapped gifts rates a 5 out of a possible 10. You may feel as though you need to up the ante by not just wrapping each gift in paper, but by wrapping them a la Martha Stewart. But the amount of effort it will take is significantly increased. Shopping for ribbons and coordinating paper, assembling all the scissors and tape you’ll need to create those fabulous bows, and the work to actually wrap and tie every individual package is also part of the Wow Factor. Is the enjoyment you will receive from perfectly wrapped gifts going to raise the Wow Factor from a 5 enough to justify the time and effort it will take?

If you’re going to spend an additional six hours prepping and wrapping gifts but the Wow Factor is only going to go up to a 5.5 on the scale, is that really worth it? Or could your family do without those extra trimmings and be perfectly content with a 5 out of 10? In fact, will they even notice and appreciate the extra work you’ve put in? Because if they won’t, you’ve misspent energy that could have been put to better use on something else.

The Wow Factor can be used in so many situations – it really is a handy tool. (In fact, I even used it to help me pick my wedding dress!) When shopping for gifts, it’s easy to go overboard. But let’s face it: after the first few gifts, the Wow Factor drops off sharply. Those first two or three gifts are as good as gold to a child, but after that the enjoyment per gift really does decrease. So maybe it’s not worth it to spend your time and money shopping for a dozen perfect gifts when your children will be just as happy with only three or four.

Your time and money are valuable. Don’t waste them on things that don’t really bring you enough satisfaction to justify spending them.

Find some time to savour this holiday season. It goes by so quickly, really, as does the childhood of your children, so resolve not to let another holiday pass with a stressed out and cranky parent. You deserve to recapture some of that childhood enchantment of the holidays, too, so make the effort to slow down, just a bit, and remember why your 10 year old self loves this holiday so much.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers
Andrea Ramsay Speers

About Andrea Ramsay Speers

Andrea Ramsay Speers, M.A. is a Psychotherapist practicing in Oakville. Her entire practice is built around one purpose: helping people enjoy their families more, whether that means coaching parents in learning new parenting tools, increasing connection and harmony between couples, improving relationships with teenagers, or helping individuals overcome their feelings of depression, stress, or anxiety and start enjoying their lives again. She can be found online at www.OakvilleFamilyInstitute.com.


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