As we get ready to turn the calendar page and officially jump into the holiday season (because, yes, I consider November and December—Thanksgiving and Christmas—one season!), I’m honestly feeling a bit overwhelmed!
I love pretty much everything about the holiday season, but between now and early December, we have so much going on: knee surgery for my husband, a 3-week trip to North Carolina, Southern Florida and Disney, house projects to finish before our holiday guests arrive, outdoor projects to finish before the cold weather settles, and so on.
I hate going into the holiday season feeling stressed because I know all too well how easy it is to make the wrong decisions and prioritize the wrong things when I’m feeling that way!
There are really two common traps that we all fall into at the holidays:
1. Trying to “do it all.” Our family has a ton of fun traditions that we enjoy for Christmas—the outdoor nativity our church hosts, baking cookies for our doctor’s office, pastor and other community servants, ringing the Salvation Army bell, doing the Truth in the Tinsel devotional, Christmas Eve service at church, family get togethers, cookie exchanges, etc.
There have been years when we could do everything on the list (like the year Jackson was born and I took off work through December!), and there have been years when we could barely do any of it.
But what I’ve learned is that it’s better to stick with just one or two special things and not end up a stressed out, uptight, grumpy mom than it is to try to do everything by the skin of my teeth. And sometimes that means disappointing other people and sticking with the things that are most meaningful for our family, like sleeping under the Christmas tree and drinking homemade hot chocolate while we watch Polar Express.
2. The temptation to shower other people with gifts. The other trap we can fall into is over-giving. Generosity is a good thing; blowing your budget or going into debt over Christmas gifts is not! Believe me, I get it. I love to give gifts, and I love to pick out things that I just know the other person will love, regardless of cost. But gifts add up quickly, and you don’t want to be left with credit card bills and regret next year!
That means making a budget ahead of time and sticking to it! But it also means taking the time to think through all of the expenses ahead of time so that you don’t have surprises popping up throughout the season. (One of my favorite ways to stretch our Christmas budget is to pick up a stocking stuffers or baking supplies or small gifts each week out of my grocery budget.)
And, truly, the best gifts don’t have to cost a lot at all. There are meaningful handmade gifts like this handprint calendar or this no-sew pocket scarf, or there are opportunities to choose time spent together and creating memories over gifts that might just get forgotten or tossed aside.
As part of their onUp movement, SunTrust is committed to helping consumers celebrate without regret, and you’ll find a ton of great resources, budgeting tools, and tips in their holiday planning guide.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.
The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.
Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.