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On your mark, get set… holidays!

Right about now the frenzy begins. It’s like a starter’s pistol is fired at the beginning of December and us moms start racing towards the holidays. For me, that race includes directing a nativity play, singing in a choir, mingling at a work cocktail party, attending a company dinner and watching my teenaged daughters dance Nutcracker selections in the shop windows in our neighbourhood. There’s a lot going on!

Our family crosses the finish line Christmas Eve when we collapse into our jammies with one of our favourite movies. Christmas Day is spent at home. Some extended family will be there, and sure, we’ll have a turkey, but the tone will be decidedly low-key. It’s a much-needed break for all of us. I relish my afternoon nap, which sometimes seems like the best gift under the tree.

Every family has their own traditions and over time, learns how to make them work. Here are a few tips I’ve learned to help manage this month:

  • Use cash to shop for gifts. It prevents credit card pain in January and it is especially useful for teaching children about budgeting. Give them an envelope of bills and let them know when they’ve spent that, they’re done shopping.
  • Set a budget with your partner for gift giving and try to stick to it.
  • Try to make a plan for holiday shopping so that you’re not buying aimlessly and overspending.
  • If you’re hosting a holiday dinner, ask for potluck contributions.
  • Involve your children in setting the table and decorating your home. You’ll establish a wonderful holiday tradition and keep them busy, too. Try doing customized place cards with drawings or photos of your guests.
  • Looking for a good teacher gift? You can’t go wrong with fresh-baked cookies or squares. Let’s face it, who needs another mug?
  • Talk to your kids now about whether they want to exchange gifts with their friends, and what that budget will be. Encourage them to make gifts.
  • Don’t forget to include charitable giving or volunteering in your holiday planning and involve your children in your decision making process.
  • Set aside some time to be home, together.

Janice Biehn

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