Christmas shopping tips from an Ottawa mother of 9

Keep to a budget, don't be afraid of the second-hand store and manage your family's expectations, says Ottawa mother Veronique Bergeron.

If holiday prep is making you miserable, lower your family's expectations, advises Veronique Bergeron

Veronique Bergeron, a mother of 9 in Ottawa, shops for a present for one of her daughters. She says the secret to a stress-free holiday is managing expectations. (CBC News)

With nine children ranging in age from one to 19, Veronique Bergeron knows more than most about the pressures of keeping everyone happy through the holiday season. 

Ottawa Morning's Jessa Runciman tagged along on a weekend shopping trip with Bergeron to get tips for this year's Christmas shopping crunch time.

"I always tell people to manage expectations," she said. "Often we're our own worst enemies." 

Depending on the family, Bergeron said that might mean shortening a lengthy shopping list or having a smaller Christmas dinner. 

"You just have to take that bold step to say, 'We're not going to do this, this year.'"

Keep a budget; check it twice

For those who are still in the planning stage of holiday shopping, Bergeron advised making a list and sticking to it. 

"We have a certain budget for each child," she said.

Veronique Bergeron deals with the pressures of shopping for her nine children during the holidays with the mantra "manage expectations." 2:10

Bergeron says shopping online saved her time and money, but with Christmas only a few days away she advised planning trips in advance to avoid wasting time with a convoluted route. 

The busy mom also suggested adding a few consignment shops to your trip.

"With a large family, nothing's sacred," said Bergeron. "I don't mind buying second hand for Christmas.

"If I can find nice tops on consignment maybe I won't have to stop at a more expensive store."

'Be kind to yourself'

When it comes right down to it, Bergeron said the key to a stress-free holiday is to remember what's important. 

"Have a good look at your traditions. Are they making you happy or are they making you miserable?" she said. 

"If they're making you miserable, stop it!"

Christmas shopping at consignment stores is a great way to save money, says Ottawa's Veronique Bergeron. (CBC News)

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