By Debbie Placke, Vice President, Manager, Financial Planning Tools and Marketing

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Halloween has passed, and Christmas is popping up everywhere! It’s easy to get carried away with all of the exhilaration leading up to the holidays, but don’t let the excitement steer you to more anxiety than peace this holiday season.

Do you remember every gift that you have received for the past ten Christmases? How about five? In talking to my adult children, they don’t even remember what I gave them last year. What they do remember is time spent with family playing games, singing and just simply sharing moments. Holiday joy doesn’t have to lead to a New Year’s financial devastation.

Plan ahead. Save yourself from over spending and creating more stress than joy this holiday season. You don’t have to spend a fortune to make lasting memories.

Follow these tips for planning a peaceful and debt free holiday:

  1. Make a holiday plan – Who will you be visiting? Will you be hosting a get together? What will you be cooking? What will you need to bring to other holiday gatherings?
  2. Draft a budget – Now is the time to decide who is getting presents, what you are buying and how much you will be spending. Don’t wait until you hit the store to make these decisions.
  3. Consider gift exchanges instead of buying for everyone – A fun alternative to everyone sitting around opening gifts is to play a game where gifts are passed around or maybe even “stolen”. You could also consider gift exchanges where everyone picks a name of someone to buy for instead of buying something for everyone. The time together will be much more memorable than the trinkets exchanged.
  4. Consider homemade gifts or gifts of your time – Home baked goods or offers for babysitting could be more appreciated than a store-bought gift. There are lots of DIY gift ideas on the internet. Explore and you may find something that touches your heart.
  5. Finally, create traditions – These are the things everyone will remember from year to year.

Enjoy a peaceful holiday season and don’t stress too much!