Christmas is undeniably my favourite time of the year. I love the many festive gatherings, meals shared and happy Christmas Carols that inspire the spirit of the season. In South Africa, the festive season also happily coincides with summer holidays, and who doesn’t love long lazy days on the beach or a braai with friends.

But let’s face it, the silly season really does become a little too much when we focus on the commercial side of things. The shops are overcrowded; lines are long, and people are generally a little less pleasant. Everyone is trying to sell you an amazing deal and there is such great expectation when it comes to purchasing expensive gifts and hosting fabulous Christmas parties.

And let’s talk about the many money challenges that arise for just a moment. We work extremely hard for an entire year to save (or earn a bonus) and then we blow it all in a matter of days. We buy extravagant presents and meals and then… we’re left broke, or worse, in a world of debt that we will sadly take with us into the new year.

This year I want to keep things simple. I want to embrace the joy of Christmas without being swallowed whole by the festive season.

These are just a few of the things we’re implementing this year to help us avoid the chaos of the season.

  1. Celebrate moments. If I think back to the many Christmases in my childhood, I can hardly recall any of the gifts given or received. I do remember the laughs, the times spent with family, the conversations and precious moments shared. This year, the aim is to celebrate moments and not things. This is the lesson I want to teach my own kids.
  2. Keep gifts simple. Instead of expensive presents, we’ve chosen to gift smaller, thoughtful presents this year. We’ve also decided to only purchase one gift each for our children. We hope that they will appreciate one great gift over huge numbers of presents.  
  3. Say no. I know this one sounds like a major party-pooper! But instead of committing to endless festive gatherings and parties, we’ve decided to say no and limit the number of activities we will be attending this festive season. Overscheduling often leads to fatigue and before you know it, the holidays will be over, and we’re more tired than ever!
  4. Staying home. We’ve decided to do things at home this holiday season. Instead of expensive holidays and outings, we’re be spending more time at home with our kids– and hopefully, save a few bucks.
  5. Christmas lunch. In my culture, Christmas lunch is a big deal. You can expect extravagant meats, desserts and every kind of side dish you can imagine. And you’re usually left to eat leftovers for many days after Christmas. This year, we’ve decided to prepare Christmas lunch at home, with just our immediate family.  We’re keeping it simple with less food and hopefully, a more meaningful celebration.
  6. Avoiding debt. We’re saying no to debt this Christmas season, so we’ve budgeted every last cent to ensure that we have enough to get us through to the New Year. We won’t be using credit cards for purchases and we’re relying on our December finances to carry us through to the new year.

It’s a joyous season after all, so let’s stay ahead of the game and ensure that we have a more meaningful celebration with the ones we love.

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