Have you ever gotten to the New Year and said to yourself "where did Christmas go?" We tend to get so swept away in the busyness of the season with events, parties, shopping, and other distractions that we often miss the truly important things.
This year, our theme for the Christmas Season is Spend Less, Give More, Worship Fully and Love All. In order to focus more intently on this theme we've included some ideas below for ways to redirect our gaze in the right direction!
1) Plan Ahead: take time to set a budget and stick to it, plan meal menus to make grocery shopping easier, determine your main priorities. Planning ahead helps to minimize rushing and also saves money as you can make purchases during sales rather than last minute when prices jump.
2) Reserve Space in your Schedule: block off a day or two each week for "Family Time" and make those times non-negotiable. When activities and events come up, make a resolution to say no and demonstrate to your children that they are your first priority. Scheduling downtime gives your family the chance to recuperate from busy schedules and enjoy each other's presence. Plan movie or game nights, go look at Christmas lights, decorate cookies, read the story of the First Christmas and spend time in prayer as a family! These will be valuable memories that your children can look back on for years to come!
3) Cut Down on Gifts: a pile of presents is not necessary to make children happy. In fact, the more stuff they receive, the more they tend to become overstimulated, overwhelmed and dissatisfied. Teach your children the value of gratitude by focusing on giving to others rather than receiving. Work together to create small handmade gifts and personally deliver them to friends and family.
4) Get Crafty: not only does this cut down on the costs of presents, but this allows you to spend quality time with your family! People will greatly appreciate the thought and time it takes to make handmade gifts!
5) Shop Smart: 1 in 3 Americans will go into debt overspending on expensive items during the Christmas Season. Be realistic about what you can afford and where your money will have the greatest impact. Set a budget and stick to it rather than getting swept up in the sales and deals. Remember that retailers are in the business of making a profit so often they mark up the retail price in order to give the appearance of offering a "deal."
6) Volunteer: giving of your time, talents and resources is the best way imaginable to teach your children to look beyond themselves and see the needs of others. This is another great way to spend quality time as a family while reaching out to help those in need. For ideas on how to give or places to volunteer, please reach out to us and we will give you some excellent options!
7) Eliminate the Unessential: we are so good at being "busy" and adding more activities and events to our already hectic schedules. We are not so good at cutting out the things that we don't need to be doing. There is no way to do it all and when we try to, we often make the holidays into a burden rather than a time of blessing . Make a list of your priorities -- that handful of people, values and activities -- that are most important to you, then gracefully bow out of the obligations that don't make the cut.
We hope that these suggestions will help you to spend more time cherishing your family and making memories together rather than suffering from unnecessary stress and frustration. Make celebrating the coming of our Savior, Jesus, the highest priority! We look forward to hearing if these strategies help your family to enjoy the season more thoroughly!