You aren’t powerless. You can choose to ignore the incessant advertising, stay within a reasonable budget, and set a good example for your kids.

I have tried really hard this November to relax, because if I’m not careful I will get swept up in the holiday season hype and wake up in January wondering where the last two months of my life went.

My frustrations with this season start in October, when Christmas decorations appear in stores and holiday commercials begin airing on television. Can I just say kudos to Nordstrom’s, who has a 100+ year tradition of not putting up their Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving? I have reached a point where I can tune out most holiday messaging. I have to; otherwise I get burned out way before December 25.

I realize for others it’s not easy to ignore the onslaught of advertising, telling them to spend, spend, spend, especially when they have children, in-laws, and siblings to think about. I have none of these things, so I feel completely comfortable vowing to boycott the mall until 2008.

There are some things, however, that we can all do to make this season easier on our wallet and our peace of mind. This timely post from has some great tips on how to “Take Your Christmas Back.” My favorite is: decide what is important to you and why. It’s more important for me to spend time with the people I love, than waste time picking out gifts for them that they may or may not like. Most of my holiday budget goes to travel, eating out, and event tickets. To save money, it’s fun to have people over to cook or help you empty out your liquor cabinet. And don’t forget that board games provide hours of cheap entertainment! (yes, I am a nerd)

Another good piece of advice from the post is: If you want to give a gift, make it meaningful.

“Useless gifts that nobody wants are such a waste. How many times have you received a Bounce Gift – one of those gifts that you receive, that only bounce in your life and then are out the door into the trash. Don’t give Bounce gifts. All you are doing is perpetuating the problem. If you give a gift, make it meaningful (this doesn’t necessarily mean expensive). If you can’t think of anything meaningful to give, don’t give anything at all.”

I know this blog doesn’t attract attention from kids age 16 to 24, but the advice above is great to pass on. I recently came across a prediction that this demographic is expected to spend an average of $634 on gifts this year.

My first reaction is, where are 16-year-olds getting $634? My second is, let’s try and get this money into a savings account! I bet most parents do not expect or even desire a present from their children, especially when they are usually the ones paying for it anyway. A good way to get your kids to spend less money this year might be to ask for handmade gifts, or a contribution to a worthy cause, say $25 to a charity of your choice.

It’s hard not to spend a lot of money this time of year, but it’s certainly not impossible. You aren’t powerless. You can choose to ignore the incessant advertising, stay within a reasonable budget, and set a good example for your kids. What other things will you do this year to stay sane and keep the spirit of the holidays in perspective?


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