By Crystal Paine
Author of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget
December can be a busy, frantic season full of hectic shopping, parties, baking, gift-wrapping, recitals, and get-togethers. Here are three ways to streamline so you can savor these moments instead of rushing through them at breakneck speed.
1. Pare Down Your Gift-Giving
Evaluate your gift list: Do you really need to give a gift to your uncle’s neighbor’s dog? I’m pretty sure Fido will survive just fine without another fancy chew toy, so save your money and use it to buy gifts for those you really care about or want to bless.
Creating limits for how many gifts you buy helps to simplify things. MoneySavingMom.com reader Ashley says, “We give each of our children three, and only three, Christmas gifts. One gift is always something useful like pajamas; one gift is money for their savings; and one gift is something they want or a fun gift. By limiting the number of fun gifts to just one per child, we are able to say no when we see something they would love, but not love enough to be their fun gift.”
If you want to have a stress-free and simple season, you aren’t going to be able to do everything. Take 15 minutes sometime in the next few days to sit down and write out what the important things are for you and your family this December.
Each person’s list is going to look different—and that’s perfectly okay. Maybe you love to make homemade gifts but you really couldn’t care less about sending out cards. Perhaps you want to give a lot of your time to bless those less fortunate but you really don’t have any desire to attend a lot of parties with people don’t know very well. Or, you really want to do fun and meaningful activities with your children but you really don’t enjoy baking at all.
Know what you want to invest your time and effort into this holiday season, then say no to opportunities and invitations that aren’t in line with your priorities.
3. Plan Ahead
After you’ve decided upon your priorities for this holiday season, it’s time to make a game plan. Look at your calendar and commitments for the next four weeks and think of everything you can do to prepare ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Make sugar cookie dough ahead of time and freeze it so it’s ready for that cookie-decorating party. Buy or make hostess gifts to have on hand for last-minute party invitations. Check your closet to make sure you have outfits for the holiday parties you’ll be attending. Finish your shopping early and avoid the mad rush of crowds and traffic the final few days before Christmas.
The more you pare down, prioritize, and plan ahead, the more you’ll be able to relax and soak in all the memories and moments of the holidays. And truly, it’s those memories and moments that last long after the elaborate decorations, fancy parties, and expensive gifts are forgotten.