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The Most Wonderful Time

It’s that time of year again! Christmas has always been my absolute favorite; I find myself in a child-like excitement and anticipation as December rears around the corner. There’s just something so special about the Christmas season that creates so much joy and happiness; the classic tunes and carols, the decorations, bright lights, bundling up next to a warm fire, baking yummy treats, wearing cozy sweaters, giving gifts and all the traditions passed down through the years all the meanwhile with family and loved ones. Each year, the nostalgia sets in and all the good memories throughout the years coming flooding back putting me into the Christmas spirit. But this time can also bring about some different feelings. It can be an extremely stressful time trying to squeeze in every single Christmas party or event, figuring out who you will be spending Christmas with, purchasing the perfect gifts for friends and family, spending long hours in the kitchen cooking and baking and so on. I’d like to offer some ways to help keep the stress levels low and the joy levels high this Christmas season.

Unfortunately for most people, Christmas time is all about gifts and presents. It’s difficult to not get wrapped up in It (pun intended). Christmas is perhaps the most heavily marketed holiday and each year companies up the ante making people believe they need to buy the next big, shiny thing leaving people over budget and over spending. I think there definitely needs to be a balance. It’s fun being able to swap gifts and experience of the joy of giving to others but it’s important to have a limit. I personally love the whole gift giving process and love being able to give and bless others. So in the spirit of balance and saving money, I would like to suggest a way to help keep you on budget and prevent over-gifting.

The biggest thing is time management. Don’t leave all the shopping to a few days before Christmas day! Leaving anything to the last minute only increases stress and anxiety. But leaving shopping till the last-minute during Christmas time when the lines are a mile long, parking spaces are limited and the crowds are enormous can be a total nightmare, sucking all the fun and joy out of the process. Not to mention the added pressure we all feel to get the perfect or most expensive gift. Typically, when you are in a rush is where you start to just toss things in the cart left and right, not checking the price tags and not noticing how much is being piled up; thus spending more and more money. Instead, Christmas shopping should be the opposite. I think that this should not only be a fun process, but also very intentional; and that’s where a lot of people go wrong. We get caught up in quantity over quality that gifts become just another thing to the collection and isn’t personal or individualized. Being intentional with the gifts you give to others makes them feel both valued and special; that you went out of your way to get a gift that has significance. When you have time to figure out what you want to give, you are able to look at the overall price and manage your money far better than if you were rushing to shop.

So what does being intentional look like when it comes to Christmas shopping? Knowing your audience is key. For those who you are really close to, you’ll already know some of the things they’re into or have been wanting. For those that you’re not quite sure, sending a text to anyone they are in close contact with such as their sibling, spouse or a close friend and asking what they like can be very helpful in figuring out what to get. Another way would be to take that person on a trip to the mall, paying attention to the things get excited about and either make a mental note of what it is or taking a picture of it so you can purchase it for them later. Or if there was something significant that happened that year, whether it be a graduation, a milestone birthday, a memorable vacation, a new career or an anniversary, it’s always nice to get something related to that event to help celebrate and commemorate it. When it comes time to pass out your presents, your friends and family will be so blown away that you took the time to give them a thoughtful, personalized and intentional gift.

As early as August or September, I do two things. First, I create a list of all the friends and family that I want to give presents to. Having a list helps keep track of all the people who will be receiving gifts. Your list will also help keep you on track for all the people you’re shopping for and make sure you’re not unintentionally adding or leaving people out. Alongside the name, I list the gifts that each person will receive. This helps me keep tabs of the presents that person is getting, which helps me make sure I’m not over-gifting and thus, not over-spending. Second, anything I see throughout the early fall months that I know a friend or family would like, I buy it and just hold on to it till Christmas time. Sure, you have to store it for a little while, but it really helps having a good start on the shopping so that it’s not left to the last minute. As I make my purchases, I add the item to their name on the list and once I am done with their gifts, their name gets a check mark and I know I am done with their gifts.

There are so many different things that make Christmas time the most wonderful time of the year. I believe gift giving is one of them. Not necessarily getting gifts, which of course is always nice, but there’s something special about giving. Just as we were blessed with the most incredible gift so many years ago, we can continue to bless others with gifts today! To avoid over-gifting and over-spending, try keeping a list and keeping an eye out for gifts ahead of time. This will help you give gifts that are not only intentional, but also extremely thoughtful and personalized. Staying ahead of schedule will also help relieve the stress and pressure of shopping, leaving you plenty of time to do all the other fun traditions to get yourself into the Christmas spirit!

And that’s the dirt!

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