The holiday season is over. Happy New Year!!!!!!
The Christmas cheer and Thanksgiving decorations are packed away until next year. Uncle Bill is enjoying the new chain saw you bought him, your daughter or son the latest Xbox 360 games or laptop. Everyone is having a blast. But not you. It’s three a.m. and you find yourself awake worrying about the credit card bills you acquired the past three months. Well, this is one anxiety I can help you alleviate.

One of the things I’ve been blessed with is that I’ve always enjoyed a stress free post holiday season. This wasn’t luck, it was a conscious decision my family made together because of illnesses and other life challenges.  
Below are my four best tips to help you tackle the season with cheer……..

1.      Keep Your Perspective: Most of us want to give our best to those we love. But what is our best? Each year you have to redefine this for yourself. If someone in your family hasn’t worked because of an illness or you lost your job because of layoffs at your company during the year, you probably won’t have a lot of money to splurge on expensive gifts. Schedule a family meeting within the next few days to discuss your situation. You don’t have to paint a picture of gloom and doom for your family, especially the children, but they should all be aware of the situation.

2.      Set a Budget: The most productive way to counter post holiday financial blues is to take purposeful action now. Don’t wait for the axe to drop. During your meeting, plan a holiday budget. Set a dollar amount for each family member and stick to it. Avoid tempting sales--statistics show that we spend twice as much during a sale. Plan menus and include the cost in the budget.

3.      Utilize Your Resources: Remember you’re not in the situation alone. Work with family and close friends to come up with creative ways to get through the season cheaply. Identify your strengths and make a list of them. Then list the strengths of those you rely on. Next take a look at the items on your lists. Maybe someone is good with crafts or loves baking. In this technological era, people feel special when receiving a handmade gift or a dozen cookies straight from the oven.  Save money by making your own decorations. Look online for ideas. One website I discovered this year is www.HomeMadeSimple.com.

4.      Remember Your Joy:  If you’re experiencing lean times it’s difficult to always stay positive. But extensive research shows that people who purposely cultivate positive thoughts deal with stress much better. So each day look for something to be happy about or grateful for in your life…then smile…and hold close to your heart the fact that there is one thing you can know for sure: There is joy in every situation.
Now, it’s your turn. Let’s pool our resources and come up with other tips and ways to have a HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!!!

21 comments

  1. Anju Gattani // November 16, 2011 at 10:53 AM  

    Hi Pamela,
    What a thought provoking post... ideas that can help you save and cut back without hurting feelings. Isn't what the true spirit of all celebrations should be about in the first place?

  2. Nightingale // November 16, 2011 at 11:20 AM  

    Thanks for some good advice. My son just lost his job and I know he'll be feeling the crunch. I'm lucky to have a job though sometimes I fret that it interferes with my writing!

  3. Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn // November 16, 2011 at 11:21 AM  

    Very timely advice, Pamela.

    Happy holidays to you and yours!

  4. Pamela Varnado // November 16, 2011 at 12:09 PM  

    Thanks Anju. I have to constantly remind myself that the holiday season is more than just giving and receiving gifts. It's the time shared together that gives the holiday meaning. At least to me.

  5. Pamela Varnado // November 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM  

    Nightingale, I'm all about helping other people enjoy life. We all know someone who has experienced hard times because of the economy or other circumstances. So any thing I can do to help brings me joy. Tell your son that I'm thinking about him and sending blessings and happiness his way.

  6. Pamela Varnado // November 16, 2011 at 12:15 PM  

    Thanks Carol, and happy holidays to you and yours also. I'm giddy just thinking about the holiday season!!

  7. Mary Marvella // November 16, 2011 at 1:11 PM  

    Hey, Pam! years ago my family decided we would do gifts for the grand kids only. Mama always gave gifts to her kids and their spouses. She shopped sales all year to do that.

    My daughter informed me we don't need to give gifts since she and i are both pinching pennies. My sibs decided to skip gifts because some of us can't afford to shop. (MY sis-in-law always cheats and brings gifts, anyway.

    For us meeting for a meal is out gift. We spend a lot less than letting someone prepare a huge meal.

  8. Mary Marvella // November 16, 2011 at 1:12 PM  

    MY daughter is making covers for my books and I house/dog/sit for her.

  9. Pamela Varnado // November 16, 2011 at 2:39 PM  

    Mary M., trading services as a gift is a great idea. I haven't thought of it and will have to include it in my holiday planning meetings. Thanks!

  10. Anonymous // November 16, 2011 at 3:27 PM  

    Hi Pam,
    With my family's busy schedules, I love the gift of time. Sitting down and playing cards or a board game, watching a DVD together or baking together. Those unguarded moments when bonding magic can happen.
    Wishing you and everyone a stress free and joyous holiday season.

    Sia Huff

  11. Pamela Varnado // November 16, 2011 at 4:26 PM  

    Sia, spending time with loved ones is what makes the holidays special. Sometimes we get lost in the commercialization of the season and lose sight of what's important.

  12. Connie Gillam // November 16, 2011 at 7:18 PM  

    Thanks for the post, Pamela.

    One of the things I've done in the last few years is- if I couldn't pay cash, it didn't get bought.

    Enough said.

  13. Pamela Varnado // November 16, 2011 at 8:33 PM  

    Connie, that's great advice. When I budget it's always with the knowledge that I'm using cash and not credit. If I do have to use my credit card I make sure I pay it off in January.

  14. Judy // November 17, 2011 at 8:32 AM  

    Good advice, Pam!In recent years, we've cut back on extended family Xmas gifts. But later in the year, if I see something appropriate (usually on sale)I may surprise a family member with it. It's a difficult time of year financially because EVERYONE in my family has a birthday in December, January and February...Don't know what it is...

  15. Pamela Varnado // November 17, 2011 at 9:33 AM  

    Judy, my grandson's birthday is in December and he hates it. I always try to do something special for him. Add paying for a party and presents and it makes things tight. I don't buy presents for anyone who isn't in my immediate family or my siblings, except close friends.

  16. Diana // November 17, 2011 at 5:27 PM  

    I love to paint, and my husband is a geat cook & carpenter. We combine our talents and make up baskets with home-made jams, cookies, candies, and small (greeting-card size) paintings. Our gift-list has narrowed down over the years. Only a few receive gifts, most get cards with personal notes.

  17. Pamela Varnado // November 17, 2011 at 6:50 PM  

    Diana, I'd cherish a picture I received from someone I know. It's the special little things that matter most. And while my list of gift recipient is limited to family and close friends, I send tons of cards each year. Just letting others know that I'm remembering them during the holiday season means a lot to me.

  18. Mary Ricksen // November 17, 2011 at 9:42 PM  

    So many people have no jobs, it's so sad. People need to help other people, and that is just exactly what you said!!!

  19. Pamela Varnado // November 18, 2011 at 8:07 AM  

    Mary R., it's sad when people have to endure hard times alone. When I think of all the senior citizens or shut-ins that face each day without speaking to another soul it breaks my heart. But I'm proud to say I'm an American. Most of us have generous hearts. Let's remember that this holiday season.

  20. Josie // November 18, 2011 at 3:38 PM  

    Pamela,
    Interesting post, Pamela, and very timely. My family has cut down on buying things more and more over the years. This year we hope to help out at a soup kitchen on Christmas day.

  21. Beth Trissel // November 18, 2011 at 8:40 PM  

    Excellent post, Pam.