Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chri$tmas Care Tip$

Is the stress of preparing for Christmas robbing you of your JOY this holiday season?
Here are a few tips to help you through the holidays.

1) Take control of your schedule and eliminate those events which stress you out. It might be the office cookie exchange party (let them know you'll be bringing store bought this year) or Secret Santa, party or dinner out (you'd love to but...just can't fit it in...sorry!) Take a good hard look at where you spend your time and trim out all of the events that don't bring you or your family JOY. (OK, you might have to go to Aunt Mildred's again this and every year...for the sake of family harmony)

2) Take control of your budget. Know how much you can spend and be brutal sticking to it. The presents ARE NOT the main reason for this celebration...

3) Practice saying NO. Repeat. See #s 1 and 2

4) SLOW down. Take a moment each day to organize your tasks. Eliminate all but the top 3 things. Pray, meditate or take a brisk walk to regain your perspective. Savor the walk from your car into the mall (it's exercise). Practice clearing your mind.

5) Keep things simple and uncomplicated: presents can be placed in gift bags, meals can be catered or use a frozen dinner for a quick bite during the weeks leading up to the big day. FOCUS on the relationships...not your to do list.

6) Rest one day a week. If it's good enough for the creator of the's good enough for you.

7) Count your blessings by being of Service others-whether it is just by letting the mom with the crying toddler go in front of you in the checkout line, offering a word of encouragement to the harried clerk or ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, serving breakfast at the local homeless shelter or visiting an elderly resident in a nursing home.

8) Allow others to help. Employ the "It's good enough Strategy". This works for things like decorating, cleaning, baking and wrapping. Even the youngest family member can help if given the right project!

9) Breathe...take a warm bath, light a scented candle. Hug your mate and children (repeat), sing carols (LOUDLY), appreciated the beauty, sights, sounds and smells of the holiday! Be purposeful about it and you'll feel your stress melting away.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Chri$tmas...

Christmas is NOT a frugal time of the year and you don't need this BLOG to tell you that...but it can be done in moderation.

10 ways to keep the season under control

1) Exchange ornaments ONLY with adult members of your family (we give kids who have graduated from college on up a special ornament to commemorate some "event" that occurred during the year.
for example:
in 2001 to commemorate 9-11 we gave Fireman ornaments, USA Flag and eagle ornaments
For graduations, weddings and births we give commemorative dated ornaments
This is fun and spreads the expense out across the year as we purchase from where we vacation, visit or travel through

2) Create a budget and stick to it!

3) Limit stocking stuffers to items you purchase at the dollar store (this really works and can be done all year long)

4) Stockpile you gifts in one location so you don't lose it and have to replace it on Christmas ever.

5) Keep a spreadsheet of gifts: I include the recipients name, the gift (or gift idea) and the cost.
The spreadsheet tallys the sum of all the money spent and is easily printed when shopping must be done to assure I don't purchase another gift for Aunt Betty when when is already stored under the bed.

6) Be creative and give a hand crafted gift. Do you knit, sew, bake, garden? Put your talents to use and create a one of a kind gift!

7) Cut down your list (WARNING--This needs to be done early in the year so feeling are not hurt) If your finances dictate you need to cut back, gently explain to your family and friends. They will understand, trust me! They want you to be financially healthy and are delighted to be a partner with you in this. They have probably wanted to do the same thing and have not had an idea of how to proceed--so you are doing them a favor too!

8) Save a small stipend each pay day of the year. I put aside $25 each payday in an envelope. That way I always have CASH to spend throughout the year when I find the perfect gift. $25 saved each of my 26 pay periods results in $650 for Christmas!

9) Give gifts that require your time not your money (rake the yard, clean the gutters, wash windows, read to an elderly aunt, prepare a meal once a month and eat with the recipient, take walks together...etc)

10) Write a letter to those that mean the most you you. A heartfelt letter will be their most treasured gift! Try it and see for yourself!

Consider only giving gifts to the BIRTHDAY BOY, Jesus...Give to the charity of your choice, in service hours. After all, Christmas is the ONLY Birthday party where EVERYONE but the Birthday boy gets a gift! Remember the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas and enjoy it more!