Five Ways to Prepare for the Holidays

We are in the middle of the busiest season of the entire year. The next few weeks will give us the most opportunities for memories, family, festivities, parties, and stress. Let’s plan now for ways to enjoy the holiday season without adding all the stress to our lives.

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Prepare for the holidays but don’t be Stressed

Plan for the holidays to be different

People change. Situations change. Things change! The only thing we can be guaranteed of is that nothing will ever be the same as it was the time before. We love traditions and we want the same family memories that we’ve had in the past. But it’s never the very same as it was the year before. Children grow up and may no longer have the same squeals of excitement when they see the tree for the first time. Some people may have developed health issues. We may celebrate the holidays with a member of the family missing that was here last year. Maybe there is a family member who is going to college or is away and cannot be home for the holidays. Think about the changes that are coming this holiday season before you get there. Make plans that will allow for these differences.

Prepare Financially

There is nothing worse than getting to the first week of January with loads of debt. Christmas presents don’t have to be all about the money. Start thinking now about ways you can simplify the financial burden of Christmas presents and gift-giving. Can you make cookies or a pie for your neighbor instead of buying them a present? Maybe you can arrange a coupon swap with another family for babysitting or time out with the family.

Find a way to give back

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year for people to do something for others. Whether you choose to do an Angel Tree gift, pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, ring the bell for the Salvation Army, or serve food at a local soup kitchen, find a way that you can do something for others. Not all giving requires money. Help your kids go through their toys that they have outgrown, box them up with the special bow and take them to a family who doesn’t have as much as you do. Have your kids outgrown their winter coat? Check with the school resource center to see if there is someone who needs a new coat.

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Make a priority list

There are some things that are non-negotiable for the holidays. Sitting around the Christmas tree reading the Christmas story is something that is important to me and is something I don’t want to give up. For some people it may be important to go as a family and pick the perfect tree from the tree farm. Is it important for you to have a traditional Christmas meal with all the family? Figure out what is important for you this holiday season and let the other traditional activities take a backseat.

Finish Shopping ASAP

We’ve all heard that there are some things money can’t buy, but everything else can be bought with a credit card. The holiday season can be a source of extreme financial stress if you put off your shopping to the last minute. Start making a list now of the expenses you know are coming. What gifts are you planning to get for your children? Are you planning a big family Christmas party or holiday gathering? Figure out how much things are going to cost and start buying a little at a time. When you start planning ahead you can shop sales, look for discounts online or watch for price drops.

Planning to shop online? Check out these tips for saving money when you shop online!

What are some ways you can prepare for the holidays so you don’t get stressed these next few weeks? I’d love to hear your tips!

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