Christmas was a big deal at my house growing up.
My parents are not huge spenders, but they are big gift givers, and while we knew that Christmas wasn’t all about the gifts, we literally spent hours and hours opening them up on Christmas morning.
But when my husband and I started our family, we knew we would not be able to give our girls an hours-on-end gift opening event on Christmas morning. Especially by the time we had our second, we were living on a low income, so we had to get creative.
To stay meaningful within our means, we decided to begin the tradition of giving our children just three gifts at Christmas–a want, a need and something to foster their spiritual life.
These gifts do not have to cost a lot, and since we began the three-gift tradition when our children were infants, they know no different.(Plus, they still get a lot of other gifts from grandparents and extended family!)
This allows us to stay within budget while still creating a meaningful tradition.
In addition, giving just three gifts per child means less shopping for me! While other women may love to shop, it stresses me out! Our three-gift tradition takes that stress away from me and helps me enjoy the season more.
You can see what we gave our girls for Christmas last year–then ages 1, 3 and 5–here.
I recently heard from SunTrust Bank, who asked if I would partner with them to challenge my readers to stay meaningful this holiday season–but within your means.
As someone who delights in encouraging you to make your budget stretch–no matter how small–I am excited about this challenge!
The challenge has 3 parts:
No one’s holiday is going to be enjoyable if you are not able to enjoy it yourself. You need to make time for yourself daily/weekly.
This is something I’ve been learning a lot this year!
Some examples of taking care of yourself this season include:
- Skipping the rituals that stress you out: Whether it’s newsletter style holiday cards, baking 50 dozen cookies or creating a giant light display. If it’s giving you heart palpitations, give it a rest this year!
- Letting go of perfectionism! The decorations and menu plan do not have to be perfect for you to enjoy them!
- Creating a holiday budget to go along with your regular budget: Use the holiday planning guide to make sure you have accounted for all those expenses that sneak up through the holiday season. Going to several holiday parties can get expensive! What is the going rate for a sitter these days? Going away? Need to board a dog or get a pet sitter? It all adds up! Download your free holiday budget planning guide from SunTrust here.
- Managing expectations early on. This is one that can have the biggest impact to your budget. Determine how you give among extended family and friends. Will you draw names? Play a white elephant game with gag gifts? Give to everyone? Forgo gifts this year?
It’s important to spend the holidays with family and friends, but it takes intentionality to make it happen.
Some ideas for being more intentional include:
- Do something together as a family every week in December – something FREE. Drive around and look at lights, make hot chocolate and host a holiday movie night, look for community activities to participate in, etc.
- In lieu of gifts, do something together as a group. Potluck at someone’s house, go to a Christmas play together, etc.
There are so many opportunities to give during the holidays. This is also a great time to teach children the importance of giving.
Some ideas for giving include:
- Instead of gifts, make a donation to a charity that is important to you. You can make one large one in honor of all your friends and family or divide up into groups (family, different circles of friends –work, neighborhood, college etc) and make smaller donations to a few groups. One of my favorite charities is Hope for Women, International.
- Ask your church or a church in your community if they know of any families that need a donation this year, and put together a care package–to be delivered anonymously.
How do you seek to stay meaningful within your means during the holidays?
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences.
To get started visit suntrust.com/holiday
Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending. Download here.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.