How to Have the Best Christmas Ever

Don’t we all dream of the perfect Christmas?  What would your perfect Christmas include?  Reading stories by the Christmas tree, listening to Christmas carols, making treat with our kids, go for a ride to see the lights, etc…  I’m afraid more often than not, our Christmas’s don’t end up being the way we pictured them.  It’s busy, busy, busy…..go, go, go…. then it’s over.  Sometimes I feel it’s as if we missed the holiday.  My Dad reads a poem at Christmas time called “Funny, Funny, Mother.”  It’s funny, but it’s also true a lot of the time.  This year will be different.  The key to making this year better is by starting NOW.  Being prepared and having a plan will help you to achieve your perfect holiday.  Let’s get started.
(picture source)


First – Budgeting
Budgeting seems to work differently for everyone.  Here are my few suggestions.  Don’t use credit cards to finance your Christmas.  Create or plan a realistic budget.  Decide how much money can you set aside for Christmas without relying on credit cards each month.  It is important to have this budget in place before you start dreaming about gifts, new decor, and activities because it’s much easier to make your spending fit within your budget than it is to stretch your budget to fit your spending.
Second – Plan Your Calendar
Money and budgets may be the main source of stress during the holidays, but calendars and schedules are probably a close second!  The key to a simple Christmas is deciding which activities are really important to you and then keeping a detailed calendar.  Don’t forget to schedule the time to take care of buying and wrapping gifts, sending cards, baking, and everything else that it takes to get ready for Christmas.  The goal here is to find a way to manage your schedule so you can do the things you love without getting stressed out.

Third – Gift Giving Plan 
Make a list….Definitely check it twice.  Record everyone on your gift-giving list.  Set recommended amounts and then keep track of spending.  Remember, it really is the thought that counts!  Brainstorm ideas within your budget.  Try a family or group gifts instead of individual gifts.  My siblings and I all pool our money to shop for our parents.   This way, we don’t have to spend a fortune to get them a really nice gift.  We also do a gift exchange so that we don’t have to buy something for every single person.  We do this with us adults and with all the cousins as well.  Set a dollar limit so that everyone can plan accordingly.  
Gift Planning
Thrifty Gift Ideas

Fourth – Stress-Free Shopping
Make a list.  This way you are less likely to get home and realize you forgot the one gift you wanted to get the most and you bought something you already had.  Shop early.  You will avoid the crowds and the pressure of having to find a gift before time runs out.  Shop during off-peak hours.  Do your shopping in the mornings when the stores will be less crowded.  You will be able to find what you need more easily and you’ll be able to get help from a sales associate much easier.  Shop online.  A perfect way to find exactly what you need without having to go to 100 stores to find it.  Be sure to shop early in order to avoid paying rush delivery charges.
Holiday Shopping List

Fifth – Create Family Traditions and Memories
In the midst of a busy holiday season, it’s easy to lose our focus and forget about the things that are most important to us, but a written list of traditions helps us remember what is really important and make the time for those things.
Family Traditions

Sixth – Prepare Your Home
Declutter, deep clean, and maintain.  Cleaning and decluttering are not the most glamoursou aspects of preparing for Christmas, but by getting them out of the way early, you’ll leave plenty of time for the stuff you truely enjoy!  Make room for new toys by cleaning out the toy room.  A toy room that is overloaded and messy is not fun to play in.  Throw away anything broken.  Have your children choose 3 toys to give away.  Give away toys that your children have out grown.  Doing this early will also give you a better idea of what your kids already have and things that they could have fun with, gift ideas.
Cleaning Checklist

Seventh – Giving
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is giving to others.  Every year, including the years we didn’t have as much, we do something or give something to someone else.  Usually someone who needs it more than us.  I love teaching this to my kids.  They are always involved in our giving plan.  They see our family giving to another.  This year, I will ask my children to contribute to our giving plan with some of their own earned money.  Look for opportunities to that involve giving of time and money.  It is important to show children the rewards that come from both so that they don’t get stuck in the rut of just donating money without having to give any of their time.

Helpful Links:
Christmas….Your Way (The best resource of information shared here today.)
Christmas….Your Way Printables

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