Calm the Christmas Mayhem

Calm the Christmas MayhemIt’s that time again! The joys and merriment that surrounds the holiday season is, for some, squashed by the added stress of the season. We’re dealing with the three F’s: Finances, Family, and Friends.

Handling Your Finances

Everywhere you look, the advice you’ll get when looking for help in dealing with your finances during Christmas is basically the same: Plan, plan, and plan! Grab a pen and paper and I’ll show you how to manage your Christmas buying quickly and effectively.

Leave a large space at the top of the page, and create four columns on your page. The top of the page is for your budget. Realistically, how much can you afford to spend on gift buying this year? Write it down in big red numbers. In the first column, write down the names of everyone you think you would like to get something for this year. As you look through this list that you just created, move the names of anyone you haven’t personally seen in the past 12 months to the second column. Looking again at your first column, move the names of all co-workers over to the third column; and finally move all service providers to the last column.

The first column should now contain all the names of people that you care about and that you see regularly. You’ll need to assign each of these people a dollar amount that will be your budget for gifts this year and deduct that from your original budget.

The second column will likely be distant friends and family; the third column will contain your co-workers, and the fourth column is people like your babysitter and newspaper delivery person. I know you want to buy something for all of these people, but we’ve got to keep to that budget that’s in big red numbers at the top of your page.

If your budget is at zero after going through your first column, you can merge everyone else onto one list and give cards to each of those people. If you have extra money in the budget, you can determine who is most important to you – column 2, 3, or 4.

Handling Your Family

You’ve got to love your family, right? There are ways to handle stress inducing in-laws, parents and siblings. First, sit down with your significant other and decide on a strategy. You may want to limit the length of visits before hand, talk about topics that will be considered off limits, etc.

If you are concerned that family will be upset that you’ve cut back on Christmas this year, be sure to confront the issue before they all arrive at the house. Explain what you have decided to do and why you’ve done it. This might be the perfect opportunity to talk about drawing names or having a potluck type dinner to help reduce costs.

Handling Your Friends

At this time of year, there are always parties to attend. This can lead to an overloaded schedule, which in turn causes you additional stress. Start the holiday season by getting your calendar in order. Start by adding all your family obligations such as work schedules, children’s obligations, doctor’s appointments, etc. Add in the time you’ll need to prepare for Christmas. You’ll need time to shop, bake, wrap gifts, and decorate the house. Claim one night as your night. Spend this alone, with your spouse, or whatever you’d like to do to keep yourself relaxed! As the party invitations come in, you’ll be able to tell whether or not your schedule will allow you to accept or not!

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