By: Tana Gildea
The holidays can be stressful for any number of reasons, not least of which is the expense of special meals, gifts, and parties. To help reduce the stress and the financial drain, here are a few ideas:
- Start setting aside money now to save up – tucking away $10 here and $5 there can add up. Make it a game to forego something small today so you can stash the cash. Think of how great it will feel to pay for your holiday purchases with cash this year and avoid the “holiday hangover” of a credit card bill!
- Set your budget for what you can spend and allocate before you get to the store. If “making a list and checking it twice” is good for Santa, it’s good for us, too. Rather than facing that “Rats! I forgot about _____” moment, think through your friends, neighbors, work buddies, and family members to identify who should be on the gift list and who it is important for you to connect with this holiday season. Stick to your price-guidelines – spend “thought time” rather than money as you carefully choose the right gift at the right price.
- If you are sending cards, remember to add in the cost of postage to your budget – it all adds up!
- Plan ahead and consider each person individually so that you can select something meaningful rather than grabbing a gift.
- Think about your talents and how you may be able to create unique gifts at a low cost – those typically require more time than money so planning ahead is key.
- Focus on creating great moments rather than buying a lot of gifts. Dan & Chip Heath’s book, The Power of Moments, talks about this beautifully. Their website, https://heathbrothers.com/the-power-of-moments/, has some great resources. (I’m a fan, not an agent!)
- Make plans to have everyone contribute to big meals so that all of the expense (and work!) is not on one person or family.
- Exchange names with friends and family and work colleagues so that everyone is not buying for everyone or consider foregoing gifts and pooling money for a favorite charity.
- Talk with kids about getting one or two special gifts rather than feeling that more is better. Most religious traditions have gift stories that can guide us.
The holidays should be about connection and joyous giving, not stress and over-spending. I hope this is the year I can slow down and make conscious choices that honor the people I love and bring me closer to those I care about. May your holidays be bright, meaningful, and bring you love and laughter.