Keeping the Cheer in Your Holidays!

Think of your childhood memories.

I recall singing songs, eating some traditional foods/desserts, and, of course, opening presents. The joys of the new G.I. Joe or the almost joy at the new socks and scarves. The cookies and dishes that you only really have this time of year. The family or friends we only see around now. Think of all of those memories — how many of those presents do you still have or care about?

I care about the feelings. I forget many of the things but can recall thinking someone was doing something nice for me. I also recall how great it felt to do something nice for someone else … even my big brother.

I recall some holidays when we weren’t doing the best financially. While we didn’t get everything we wanted, we had plenty to be happy about. I don’t know if I was grateful at the time. I am sure I was disappointed with fewer toys or not getting the ones I wanted.

However, I want my parents to know that today, that doesn’t matter to me. I learned to manage expectations, which has helped keep me grounded in life. They spent time with us, which was amazing. My dad worked a lot to support us, and my mom, too, so any time where we were all together — watching movies, laughing, and sharing a snack — was the best. Today, I realize that just sitting with my own kids and not having all of those distractions means as much to me as any gift.

I am not against gift giving; it’s just that the holidays seem to be about the consumption. Eating food, buying presents, traveling, etc. These expenses do contribute to the memories — but I often think that by focusing on the stuff, we forget the real magic of the holidays: spending time with those we care about.

Whether it is over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, getting together with dear friends, or spending time with your significant other or even your fur-babies, that is where we find the magic.

In our “Five Steps to Seasonal Savings,” we highlight getting organized. I agree, and when it comes to personal finances, this is a great way to Avoid the Holiday Shopping Hangover.

As you can see in the video, we can sometimes get caught up in the fun and frenzy of holiday gift giving. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, this is a commonly shared “tradition.” I recall spending one Thanksgiving in Boston to get up at the crack of dawn to head to Filene’s Basement. The lines, the crowds, and the “sales” — I stood in wonder at the frenzy, too timid and too frugal to leap into the fray.

While one can go broke saving money on amazing deals at stores, I wanted to share some basic ideas we can do now to prepare.

Here are five steps from some of our colleagues to promote seasonal savings:

  1. Recognize your seasonal stressors
  2. Develop a holiday spending plan – make a budget
  3. Develop a holiday spending plan – create a list
  4. Find alternatives to pricey present requests
  5. Fine-tune your financials (pay for things strategically)

There are some great details you may want to know, so click to read more on our five steps to seasonal savings.

Finally, lets go back to where we started: holidays are about the memories. We can make the memories and manage the stress by communicating and remembering the reason for the season. Dr. Heidi Radunovich suggested these tips for managing holiday stress:

  1. Plan ahead as a group
  2. Manage expectations
  3. Head off personal conflicts
  4. If conflicts arise, stay calm
  5. Focus on the positives
  6. Take care of yourself

If you want to read more, check out “Managing Stress During the Holidays.

Hoping you enjoy your holiday season planning! Don’t forget to sign up for Dine In Day and share your family meal time so everyone can be reminded that family time is important time! Sign up here!