I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and was able to take some time to be with family and friends! Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, and we are properly stuffed full of turkey and pumpkin pie, it also means the race to Christmas is on. Christmas has always been magical to me, but it is also a busy and stressful time of the year for many of us too.
There is so much going on that it is easy to lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas and turn into a Grinch or Scrooge who dims everyone’s holiday cheer. I never want to become that person, so I developed a holiday plan that keeps me organized, sane and able to sincerely wish glad tidings to all during the next few weeks.
How to Stay Sane and Joyful this Christmas
It’s my hope that these steps can help you create a memorable and enjoyable holiday season for you and your family too.
Have a Holiday Budget
First and foremost, you need to have a holiday budget in place. Otherwise, it is very easy to overspend and give yourself the gift of debt, which no one wants. And remember, there is no rule that you have spend a fortune on gifts or even give gifts, especially to other adults.
Break your budget into these six categories:
- Food: Are you hosting holiday parties and family gatherings? Or baking treats for both presents and celebrations? Estimate your food costs (I recommend being generous here) and don’t be afraid to asks guests to pitch-in to help lower food costs and the amount of work you need to do.
- Gifts: Determine how much of your budget you will set aside for gifts, then break it down person-by-person. Remember, gifts mean a lot more to kids, then adults. In lieu of exchanging gifts with friends, you may want to instead plan to get together in January and find a fun way to celebrate your friendship. Don’t forget to include wrapping paper, bows, Christmas cards and stamps into your budget.
- Entertainment: What activities will your family enjoy during the holidays? Plan ahead to block time on your calendar and buy tickets in advance (and possibly cheaper).
- Travel: Will be you traveling for Christmas or is everyone coming to your home? Figure out what your travel costs are, if any. And don’t forget that you may be attending more parties during December, so you may need to increase your gas and babysitting budget. If guests will be staying at your home, you will likely have increased food costs and potentially entertainment costs too.
- Decorations: Being able to buy decorations after Christmas when they are heavily discounted is ideal, but not always possible. Make a list of things you need now and what you can wait to buy until after Christmas.
- Holiday Emergency Fund: It seems like no matter how well you plan, something always comes up. It’s why I suggest setting aside a little extra for an emergency fund specific to the holidays. This way when things happen or opportunities arise, you at least won’t have to stress over paying for it or can say “yes” guilt-free.
Teachable Money Moment: Don’t keep all of this a secret from your kids. Let them know you budget for the holidays (although you may not want to tell them how much you have set aside for their gifts, especially if the big guy still visits) and ask them for input. Perhaps, they can help plan the menu for Christmas and look for ways to lower costs, etc.
Don’t Over-Schedule Yourself
Christmas was busy when it was just Chris and me, now with the girls — it’s even busier. I love the hustle and bustle of Christmas and am honored by every invitation we receive. I also know that I cannot say “yes” to everyone too. This can be hard because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it is more than okay to graciously decline an invitation or two or three. We like to map out our weekends in advance, so we know what events we have scheduled, where we have some open times and when we are not available. It’s also important to me that we schedule some down-time together as a family too.
Accept Help from Others
For women, in particular, there has always been a certain amount of pressure to do everything by yourself. We always wonder, “How does she do it?” Well, the answer is simple. She asks for help. There are some things on my list that I absolutely must do myself, while there are other things, like baking extra holiday treats, cleaning my house and so on, that I can delegate. Yes, there is a cost to having others help me, but there is also a cost to me if I try to do everything too. There are certain things that are a part of our family traditions that I do make with the girls, such as orange marmalade. But I also don’t feel bad for picking up some extra holiday treats at our favorite bakery either.
Focus on Family Holiday Traditions
This is so important to me. I hear a lot of people complain about how Christmas has become so consumer-driven and lost a lot of meaning. I don’t disagree, which is why we make such a point to emphasis our family holiday traditions. As the girls have gotten older, some traditions have evolved and others have stayed exactly the same. What matters to me is that the girls know what Christmas means in our home and how we honor that meaning as a family through our traditions. It’s my hope that one day, when they have families of their own, they will continue many of these traditions with their kids.
To Have Fun
Because we are running here and there and everywhere and have so much on our plates, it’s easy to go into task mode where you’re just checking things off your list. I understand because the holiday to-do list is long. But don’t get so caught up in making everything perfect or getting things done that you forget to have fun and enjoy the holidays too. The girls are growing so fast and I don’t want to miss a moment with them, so I remind myself to slow down and enjoy the moment versus thinking about what we have to do or go next. I am grateful for my family and our holiday celebrations and know one of the best ways to actually celebrate the holiday season, is to enjoy it and have fun.
Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas
Christmas is truly a magical time of the year from both the young and young at heart. Don’t let the busyness of the season rob you of your holiday spirit. These tips can help you stay on top of everything going on while stilling having fun.
How do you stay sane during the busy holiday season? Share your best tips in the comments below.