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9 Flowcharts to Help You Navigate the Christmas Season

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, and all the other winter holidays are times of tradition, when we continue to celebrate in the manner of years past. But some modern situations call for decisions that tradition doesn’t cover. That’s why we have flowcharts! Here are some that pertain to the unique conundrums that arise this time of year.

1. WHO TO VISIT FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Will you be spending Christmas with your parents or your in-laws? This is a decision you should make with your significant other, but it doesn't have to turn into a tug-of-war. Just produce this flowchart from She Knows to bolster your reasons for visiting the family with the least drama.

2. WHO TO BUY CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR

The holidays would certainly be less stressful if we were to do away with the tradition of buying gifts for adults (other than maybe homemade food or a nice box of candy). But social obligations live on. Still, you don’t have to buy everyone a gift, especially when you're on a limited budget. Read the rest of this flowchart from College Humor, which will help you make your decision.   

3. SHOULD YOU GET A GIFT FOR SOMEONE YOU ARE SEEING?

That may be a simple question, but the answer might be quite complicated. A flowchart from The Date Report can help you to consider how far along the relationship is and whether a Christmas gift would be proper at this time or not.  

4. GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR YOURSELF

When a close family member asks you what you want for Christmas, it’s OK to be honest. Just keep in mind that you're more likely to get your wish fulfilled if you keep it within the giver’s budget. This flowchart from 1500 Days to Freedom illustrates that well. (A second flowchart in the same post explains the recurring nightmare of intergenerational conflict in his/her family—something we're all likely familiar with.)  

5. SHOPPING FOR GIFTS

Major retailers often release flowcharts to help you decide what to give people for Christmas, which all end in gifts they sell. This one, targeted to men, is from the Milwaukee Brewers. The entire chart is huge. The flowchart is complicated, but no matter who you're shopping for, the perfect gift is a Holiday 4-Pack. I would have at least suggested splurging on a whole 6-pack.

6. SIMPLE HOLIDAY SMARTPHONE ETIQUETTE

Most of the time, your phone is attached to your hand—but when you're with the family for holiday togetherness, you're sure to get a few snarky comments from relatives if you're using it all the time. Still, there are some situations that make phone use appropriate, so Shane Snow created a flowchart to help you navigate each possible scenario.  

7. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

You should have your Christmas lights up by now. Why don’t you? Are they not working? Are you putting off the annual testing regimen? Terry Ritter put up an entire website to help you troubleshoot Christmas lights 10 years ago. His flowcharts will take you through the process of testing your lights before you hang them. Or you can simplify things by simply plugging them in and throwing away the strings that don’t work.

8. WHICH CHRISTMAS MOVIE TO WATCH

There are an awful lot of classic Christmas movies—some you may have even forgotten about. There’s one to fit your interests for every situation and every mood. You can determine which movie fits yours with this handy chart from College Humor. See the rest of the chart to select your movie.

9. WHAT TO DO ON CHRISTMAS EVE

Let's wrap up Christmas with a flowchart that’s been around forever, but is still enjoyable. After all, who wants to miss a step that may lead to seeing a jolly old elf, so you can laugh when you see him in spite of yourself? If you have trouble reading it, see a larger version here.

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Hubert Grimmig, Kultur- und Tourismus GmbH Gengenbach
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Inside the German Town Where Advent Is the Main Attraction
Hubert Grimmig, Kultur- und Tourismus GmbH Gengenbach
Hubert Grimmig, Kultur- und Tourismus GmbH Gengenbach

The German town of Gengenbach takes Christmas very seriously. So seriously that it counts down to the holiday with one of the biggest Advent calendars in the world.

Two decades ago, the town of 11,000 people on the edge of the Black Forest set out to bring in more tourists during the holiday season. So to make its holiday market more unique, Gengenbach began turning its town hall into a building-sized Advent calendar.

Now, every night from November 30 to December 23, the windows of Gengenbach’s Baroque city hall light up with artistic creations inspired by a yearly theme. At 6 p.m. each evening, the lights of city hall go up, and a spotlight trains on one window. Then, the window shade pulls up to reveal the new window. By December 23, all the windows are open and on display, and will stay that way until January 6.

Gengenbach's city hall lit up for Christmas
Hubert Grimmig, Kultur- und Tourismus GmbH Gengenbach

Each year, the windows are decorated according to a theme, like children’s books or the work of famous artists like Marc Chagall. For 2017, all the Advent calendar windows are filled with illustrations by Andy Warhol.

According to the Guinness World Records, it’s not the absolute biggest Advent calendar in the world. That record belongs to a roughly 233-foot-high, 75-foot-wide calendar built in London’s St Pancras railway station in 2007. Still, Gengenbach’s may be the biggest Advent calendar that comes back year after year. And as a tourist attraction, it has become a huge success in the last 20 years. The town currently gets upwards of 100,000 visitors every year during the holiday season, according to the local tourist bureau.

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Amazon Is Offering Free Same-Day Shipping to Prime Customers for the Holidays
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The holidays are arriving early for Amazon Prime customers—along with every gift they’ve yet to order through the online shopping behemoth. Amazon has put all of its Prime members on the “Nice” list this year, and is rewarding them with free same-day shipping from now through Christmas Eve. While that may be cutting it a little too close for some shoppers, the limited-time perk has perpetual procrastinators singing “Joy to the World.”

“We are continually investing in Prime, adding more selection and making delivery faster and more convenient,” Greg Greeley, Amazon Prime’s VP, said in a statement. “In fact, in 2016, the last Prime Free Same-Day order from Amazon.com delivered in time for Christmas was ordered at 10:23 a.m. on Christmas Eve. The order included Venum Contender Boxing Gloves, and was delivered to a Prime member in Richmond, Virginia at 2:42 p.m.—the very same day, for free.

(Whoever received those boxing gloves last year: now you know.)

This year’s holiday shipping schedule will allow gift-givers to push that deadline even further. While two-day shipping is always free for Prime customers, if that were the only option, they’d have to be done buying all their gifts by Friday, December 22. This year’s shipping perk means that you can push your shopping all the way to Christmas Eve, as long as you live in one of Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery zones (you just have to order by 9:30 a.m.). Even better: If Prime Now is available in your area, you have until 9:14 p.m. on December 24 to place your order and still have something fabulous to stick under the Christmas tree.

Of course, zero-dollar shipping costs are far from the $99 service’s only perk: unlimited streaming of Prime Video movies and TV shows—including Amazon-produced series like The Man in High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, One Mississippi, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—is there for the bingeing. Free Kindle books, photo storage, and grocery delivery are among Prime’s many other benefits.

Not a Prime member? No problem! “Even if you are not currently a member, holiday shoppers can try Prime for free for 30 days and get two-day, one-day, and same-day shipping for free,” says Greeley.

It’s hard to argue with free.

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