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Tips for De-STRESSing the Holidays

Frugal Parenting (featured column)
by Rachel Keller

'Tis the season to be jolly, but how jolly are we as we scurry about trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone and rush off to another holiday party where we overstuff ourselves? Are you stressed out by Christmas? Do you wish you could slow everything down? Here are some helpful strategies to help you survive the pressures of the holiday season.

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Shopping Strategies

Shop during the year. If you procrastinate and wait until December, try to get your shopping done early in the month and early in the day, if possible.

Avail yourself of free gift boxes and free or low-cost gift wrapping services. Wrapping presents takes time.

Shop by mail or computer to save time. You may want the company to ship some gifts directly to the recipient.

Choosing a theme can simplify your gift giving (buying everyone on your list a book or a sweater for instance).

Whether you have a large or a small extended family, consider exchanging names so you don't have to buy as many gifts. You may want to buy one gift a whole family can use rather than a gift for each person.

Consider exchanging cards at your office rather than gifts.

Christmas Cards

You can save money on Christmas cards by making your own. If you have children, have them decorate cards. A simpler idea is to cut last year’s Christmas cards and send as postcards which cost less to mail than a card. You can also use decorative scissors to recycle old Christmas cards as gift tags.

Start addressing your cards early Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to start. If you do five a night, starting on November 28, you will have 90 ready to mail on December 15. If you have addresses in your computer, you can save time by printing out address labels.

Instead of Christmas cards, consider sending a newsletter. This past year, we sent out a Thanksgiving newsletter, listing all the blessings of the past year and wishing our friends a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. In previous years, we sent out letters after Christmas because of time pressures and waiting for Christmas pictures to include with our mailings. If you are pressed for time, send your cards in time for the New Year.

Consider sending electronic greeting cards or newsletters to those with email addresses. You’ll save considerable money on cards, stationery and postage. By using email, we keep in better contact and send out more holiday letters than we would if we were using snail mail.

Parties and Entertaining

Are you responsible for a dinner party? You may want to consider a potluck instead, or have each person bring a certain course rather than doing the whole dinner yourself. If you have company, you don't have to cook the most elaborate feast every night.

Serve dips in festive green and red peppers. Cut off the tops. Remove the seeds, and fill with your favorite dips.

You can make bite-size fudge easily. Spray an ice cube tray with non-stick cooking spray. Pour in your fudge. The candy will harden quickly with no cutting needed.

Prioritize your life. You don't have to accept every invitation you receive. Cut back on outside commitments. Instead, take some time from the busyness of the season to spend with family and friends, and remember the real reason for the season.

Controlling Stress

Budget a certain amount for gifts. Make a list of people you need to buy gifts for and allot so much per person. If you are short on cash, make homemade gifts or be creative. A gift does not have to be new.

Simplify your life. You don't have to decorate each room of the house. If you have children, let them help you decorate.

Be more relaxed about housekeeping. Take some extra time off work if possible.

Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, and enjoy some quiet time for yourself.

Do something special for someone else this time of the year. Donate to a worthy cause or help a needy family. This is a great way to teach children compassion.

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Return to Christmas on a Budget

Copyright © 2004 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.

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