Preparing for the Holidays – Money, Food, & Gifts!

Preparing for the Holidays – Money, Food, & Gifts!

It’s that time of year again – time for family gatherings, Christmas gifts, dinners with those we love, and memorable times. While the Christmas season is such an exciting time it can also be a time that causes extra stress if issues such as money, diet, and time with your own family get pushed out of balance. Here are some tips I’ve come up with to help us ease in and out of this holiday season with minimal regrets. Please email me your own Holiday Planning ideas!

– Start with a budget – this is a guideline of what you want to spend on each and every person you get a gift for, each and every meal/party you plan to host, etc. Set it TODAY if you haven’t and be diligent to stick to that budget through the entire Christmas season. About a week ago, Ryan and I sat down with the list of all family and friends we want to do something for this Christmas. With just 3 paychecks between now and Christmas we are splitting up our purchasing all along, hoping to have most gifts purchased by the beginning of December.

– Think about going homemade – While I’m already seeing time limits on making too many homemade gifts this year with our upcoming move, I have still planned in some. Homemade items are especially nice for those times when you want to get something nice for someone but really can’t spend much money. There are limitless ideas for homemade gifts and I’d love to hear some of your suggestions as well.

– Food Gifts – Loaves of homemade bread, (healthy) cookies, coffee, granola, and trail mix are just a few ideas for healthy food-based gifts to give someone. Perfect hostess gifts can be created with just a few dollars and the hostess will enjoy working your creation into tomorrow’s menu. I’ve found food-based gifts to work great for people who “have everything,” for those you don’t know real well but want to do something for, and for hostess gifts.

– Remember Who this season is all about – I’ve fallen guilty year after year of eating, shopping, and visiting the whole season away. Thanksgiving is a time to thank God for the blessings He has given us. Christmas is a time to thank Him for giving us His Son. Don’t let the cares of the season rob you of one-on-one time with the Lord.

– Exercise – wanna still fit in those jeans come January? Make it a habit to go for a morning walk each day or start up an intense workout program right now! My husband and I are doing the Insanity workout and have decided to restart it to keep us fit through December.

– Choose 1 – dessert, that is! When going to a party, potluck, or dinner, offer to take a healthy option (low-fat dip and veggies, lean meat, healthy appetizer, salad, etc). That way, you know you’ll have something healthy to go to when you get there.

– Make time for your immediate family – Ryan and I need time to ourselves so that our communication and marriage will thrive through the holidays – This means that we must say no to some great events and ideas to spend time with each other. Think about the family living under your roof and plan in times to just be together.

– Give – Remember that we as Americans are generally OVER-blessed. Look around you for people who are hurting (widows, nursing homes, those who are sick, etc) and for those abroad (missions such as Compassion and World Vision offer the opportunity to give to those in desperate need) and give to others this season. You could even consider your entire family donating (through those organizations, you can give chickens, goats, water, etc to needy families) items to needy people instead of swapping gifts.

Please send in your ideas for staying on course through the holidays, low price gift ideas, and healthier party themes.
Homemade & Creative Gift Ideas
Another Christmas is nearing us – another set of gifts to be bought. And sometimes it is very challenging to come up with new and innovative items. Here are some examples of budget-friendly gifts – please email me your own and I’ll feature them!

– Food – Create a gift basket or box full of homemade food items. Remember what ingredients are more expensive – butter, chocolate chips, nuts, etc – and go for recipes with less of these. For example, I can make a few loaves of banana or pumpkin bread for about the same cost as a small making of cookies. Most people these days are pretty health conscious and would just assume the healthier option anyway. (Note: a great way to save $$ with these items is to, for example, grab a big pumpkin and cook down the pumpkin yourself or grab sweet potatoes and cook them yourself instead of buying canned)

– Useful Crafts – Most any of us can use cool household items such as draft dodgers, pillow cases, laundry bags, homemade potpourri (made from pinecones, etc from your yard), potted plants, warming pads (sew 2 scraps of material together like a pillow, fill with rice, oats, beans, etc – microwave for warmth, Christmas decorations, etc. Most of these items cost just a few dollars to make and are wonderful to have around – This is where I would love for you to send in more ideas as well!

– Yearly Tradition Gifts – Consider starting a “tradition” gift, where every year you give something specific to your loved ones. Examples would include ornaments, photo books (of family photos from the past year), music CDs or DVDs, homemade crafts, etc – knowing what you’re getting family or friends helps you to shop all year long, saving time and money!

– “Giving” gifts – Last year Ryan and I donated some money through World Vision and got to “choose” a gift for our donation. Ryan got me a beautiful necklace as the gift. It’s really cool to have a gift donated in my honor. Consider doing this for family and friends – give a donation to the organization and have the “thank you gift” sent to someone you love.

Please send me gift ideas and I’ll feature them!