A Good Christmas

Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. And stress. Anxiety. Debt.

Happiness and cheer I'm all for, but I can do without adding more stress, anxiety, and debt to my already overwhelmed plate.

Especially the debt.

It seems like every year I get wrapped up and carried away in the latest and greatest Christmas experience - bigger tree, more (in price and quantity) gifts, custom one-of-a-kind cards. It's all just too much for my sanity and my wallet.

This year, I'm taking a stand. I am not allowing myself to get caught up in the glitz and glam. I do not need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to feel like it's been a good Christmas, or worse, to convince others that it's been a good Christmas.

I've taken a hard look at Christmases past and cuts are being made.

Christmas Cards: I don't even want to begin to add up the money I've spent on custom one-of-a-kind Christmas cards. It started innocently enough when I had Leroy's pictures made at the groomer for a fundraiser and used them for Christmas cards. The next year, I had custom letterpress cards made. Last year, I had custom illustrated cards. As in, I sent in a picture and we were turned into an illustration and printed on a card. Yes, they were cute. But were they worth the ridiculous amount of money I spent on them? No. There are tons of cute cards to be found at places like Hallmark, Target, and Hobby Lobby. No, I won't be the only person who has that exact card, but does that really matter? It shouldn't.

Gifts: We don't draw names in either of our families, which translates to gifts for everyone...with no set spending limit. While I've typically had a general idea of what I wanted to get each person, I've never really adhered to any type of budget for Christmas gift. Gift-giving is one of my love languages. It truly brings me joy to find something I think someone will love, so I've always hated limiting that with a monetary limit. This year that changed. I can't practice fiscal responsibility if I'm not intentionally making good decisions when it comes to the money spent for one day of gift-giving. I set a reasonable amount to spend on our family members and, with the exception of two people, I've been successful. Shopping, while having taken a bit longer this year, has been a lot more fun and a lot less stressful.

Wrapping: I love-adore-cannot-get-enough when it comes to wrapping. It's one of my favorite things about the season. I love the physical act of wrapping almost as much as I love the pretty papers, bows, and tags. One of the things that's been the hardest for me this year is to bypass the wrapping paper and accessories when I'm out and about. I have so much of it already and I'm making it a point to use what I have before buying more...no matter how much I love it, I'm not buying it if I don't need it.

The amount of money I've spent on gifts, cards, and decorations is significantly less this year than it has been in the past. And you know what? Christmas is still happening. Not only is it still happening, it has been the least stressful Christmas I can remember in many years. It has been - and will continue to be - a good Christmas...the Christmas I've spent so much money to achieve in the past.

How are you handling Christmas this year? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on navigating budgets during the Christmas season!