Surviving and thriving during the holidays
Avoiding Financial Stress
Keep the joy in the holidays by doing a bit of planning and getting the family organized. It does not have to all be about spending and gifting, try a few changes this year to lessen the stress for all.
Plan out your holiday spending strategy so that you have some clear expectations on the amount that you can afford to spend on gifts, entertaining, travel, holiday clothes, etc.
Don't overuse credit cards during the holiday such that you have to take the rest of the year to pay off the debt.
Planning for the holiday budget should be spread out over the year by saving a little each month to take the burden off the end of year finances.
Start with a gift list that will focus on the priority of the immediate family and set an amount that is reasonable to allocate for each person.
Make your gifting decisions with a lasting purchase that will be remembered and used beyond the day.
Gifting does not have to be an expensive store bought item, some of the best gifts are the personal and homemade ones such as family photos and baked goods.
Set aside time for a project that brings the family together, such as a group photo under the tree or making cookies or a craft decoration for the home. It does not have to be complicated or expensive, just that you are making a fun connection for the holiday with an inclusive task for each person.
Cookies can be as easy as a batch of sugar cookies with each child’s name spelled out in frosting. If you not have the time to spend in the kitchen making a recipe from scratch, then grab a box mix and use the time to be creative with the decorations. Give each child a role to cut the shapes or stir the frosting.
Or try making a candy gift to share with others. Filling a box of treats for a relative or friend makes a personal statement.
Photos and cards go hand in hand so be creative with family pictures from the past year or funny poses to share. This helps to keep in personal.
Crafts and decorations are a good way to share a memory such as a wire tree stand for collecting holiday cards or making customized stockings or ornaments with each person's name.
Find a charity project that the whole family can participate, such as gift wrapping or collecting food donations or a fund raising event to help the community. There are lots of charity sporting events in November and December, look for "jingle bell" races and put on a silly sweatshirt or winter cap. Use the link above to search for a race in your area. It combines a healthy message with a reason to help others.
Time for celebrations
Slow down and enjoy the time
The holidays are not a test and it does not all have to be perfect, nor should you be trying to impress anyone. From the meal planning to gifting to attending parties, it can all be a busy time but it does not need to be stressful. Enjoy the moments with family and friends, share a laugh and put aside the distractions so that you can celebrate.
One suggestion from a friend, was to skip the shopping ordeal and take the family on an overnight trip to spend the day site seeing or explore a nearby city. The family agreed to only get one gift each and spend the time together instead.
Give yourself a gift of relaxation, take a quiet moment to have a holiday break. Set aside time for a pedicure or hair appointment to treat yourself or make lunch plans with friends.
If you can't join all your family together, start your own holiday traditions.
Have a peaceful holiday.