Dec 1, 2011

Holiday Season Priorities

There is so much going on right now that it's no surprise I've come down with a cold amidst all the busyness of the season. It's got me thinking about what's really important right now:

Sticking to our financial priorities - With all of the hot deals available at this time of year, it's all too easy to overspend. But my husband and I are both pretty good at keeping our impulse purchases in check by keeping our eyes focused on the prize. Still, in a season of wants, it takes extra discipline to maintain that focus.

Building memories - My boys are lucky in that they get lots of time and attention from both of their parents, but I find that at this time of year, it becomes especially important to give them experiences they'll associate with the holidays. When they're grown, I want them to remember decorating the house, baking cookies, Christmas music, and sweet potato latkes. It becomes a little harder every year to keep their focus off presents, but it helps that my husband and I don't make a big deal out of what to get them (in fact, we hardly buy them anything since they get so much from their grandparents and other relatives). In spite of all the great gifts I received over the years, my own favorite memories center around decorating the tree every year, so I figure the gifts are pretty irrelevant in the (very) long run.

Fulfilling obligations - Much as I'd like to be able to focus just on what I want to do and enjoy doing, there's no getting around certain obligations. Most of them are thank you gifts, and that list is pretty long - teachers, secretaries, etc. To a certain degree, I do enjoy putting these gifts together, but they do add to my long to-do list.

Fun gifts - These would be the gifts I derive a lot of pleasure in getting and giving, for those closest to me. Unfortunately, they're also the hardest to come up with!

Gratitude - Despite all of the stress this season can bring, I'm constantly reminded of how lucky I am. My children are happy and healthy, and I have the world's greatest husband. I'm so grateful to be able to work at home, and to not be in an office doing a job I'd come to find very stressful. I love helping you create financial security for yourself and your family, and sharing tips to make your life easier and happier. I love the city I live in, and all of the opportunities it provides, and the tremendous freedom we're blessed with in the United States. I couldn't be luckier, and that's what I'll be thinking about as I prepare to send out our holiday cards now.

How do you stay focused on what's important during this super-busy season?


Aviva said...

My daughter's in first grade this year and turns 7 in a few weeks. We decided to do homemade holidays this year, at least for everyone we gift outside of the three of us. :) So she and I have been making fleece scarves as her project for gifting teachers (there are just SO many of them!!) and extended family members. (For teachers, we'll pair the scarves with a Starbucks gift card and "warm wishes" for the holiday season.)

While she's starting to understand money better, she still doesn't really understand it so putting her time and energy into the gifts seems to be working as a way to teach that everything has a price -- it may be time and creativity rather than money, but it's important to show people closest to us that we value them.

The only downside is I seriously underestimated how much time I'd need to put into her scarves as prep work to get them to where she can finish them, which is impacting my own holiday craft projects timewise. But it's all worth it, and I'm excited to hear what our extended family members will think when they get the gifts. (The other thing I learned is that supplies to make gifts can really add up moneywise more than I predicted. But still within our budgets.)

Chief Family Officer said...

What a fabulous project! And it will be a nice memory for your daughter too. I hear you about underestimating prep time though - that's the kind of thing I would do, LOL!