How Limits Can Make Your Christmas Happier

Today’s post is a guest post by Karen Trefzger.

Limits Make Christmas Happier This may sound impossible, but putting some limits on Christmas gifts and activities just might make you happier.

Limits help create financial peace of mind, curb consumerism in your children, give you a bit of breathing space amid the bustle and busyness, and force you to choose from among myriad possibilities with thought and care.

As you decide how much time and money you want to spend this Christmas, think about every possible expenditure. This includes gifts, wrapping, cards and stamps, holiday clothes, travel, special events, holiday baking and cooking, eating out, parties, décor, volunteer activities, and charitable giving. Make a list of your typical costs.

Setting Priorities Can Make Christmas Happier

Next, you need to prioritize those items. The reality of working within limits is that you may not choose or be able to afford everything you want. Now is the time to decide what is most important to you. What means the most to you and your family? What brings the most joy and satisfaction? Rewrite your list in order of priority. It might look quite a bit different, with far fewer things and more shared experiences.

Cut the list, or find ways to do things more cheaply and easily, until you’re able to stay within yourbudget.

Limits Are Challenging…

but a lack of limits is a problem too. Do I hear you groaning? You can do this now, or you can face the credit card bills, extra pounds, stress headaches, and dissatisfied kids who tell you they’re bored one week after Christmas.

Is it so hard to be satisfied with less? It’s harder still if you’re used to getting everything you want when you want it, or if you believe you can or must do it all. Figuring out what really adds value to your life, and removing the rest, is one of the best things you and I can learn. And putting those limits on ourselves is really the only way to teach our children.

So ask yourself WHY you are tempted to buy and do so much. There are several possible answers:

1. Because I Love Him/Her

Of course you do. But giving gifts is only one way to show love. Do you want someone to know for sure that you love her? Turn off your computer and your phone and spend uninterrupted time with her.

Use a skill you have to make something or to serve her in some way (if it’s your child, teach her the skill). Ask him about his hopes and dreams, and listen when he tells you. Look him in the eye. Tell him why you love him. Let’s be honest – buying something might be an easy way out.

2. Because I Want To Make Memories

When I rack my brain, I can remember three or four gifts my parents gave me. What I remember far more clearly are the things we did together.

Many of those are happy memories, like walking with my dad to the library, making Christmas ornaments with my mom using felt and sequins and way too much glue, singing in the Christmas pageant at church, watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on TV with my brother and sister. Some are not so happy, such as hours spent trailing my mother as she shopped, and arguments between my parents over money.

Don’t rely on gifts to make memories for your family, and do think carefully about how you spend your time together.

3. Because I Want Him To Like Me

That’s an honest answer. I too love being appreciated. Sometimes we can buy something that accomplishes that for a while, but never forever. Go back and read the “because I love him” section if you need to, because real connection can’t be bought in a store. It takes more effort than that.

4. Because Everyone Else Has It/Does It

Okay, now you’ve admitted it. Peer pressure works on adults too. But who are you if you just follow the crowd? Social awareness is important, but if you try to live your life according to other people’s standards, you’ll never be happy. Decide not to care what everyone else thinks, but to do what’s important for yourself and your family.

5. Because It’s Christmas And I Want It To Be Special

One Christmas when I was about ten, my mom’s three brothers and their families came to our house. My brother, sister, and I willingly got out our board games and Uno cards, Legos, dolls, toy cars, crayons, and coloring books, ready to play and share with our ten cousins.

On Christmas evening, we all went caroling around our neighborhood. Because there were so many of us, we felt confident enough to go to the “mean” man’s door (he had Dobermans we feared). He and his wife liked our singing so much they clapped! And we decided he wasn’t mean after all. It was the most fun Christmas I remember growing up. I have no idea what gifts my parents gave me that year; I do remember the expectation and fun of playing and visiting with everyone.

And that’s how you make Christmas special. You stop thinking about yourself and think about others more. You get out of your comfort zone and broaden your mind. You may stop doing some things you’ve “always done” and try something new.

You give special, thoughtful gifts to your loved ones, and save the extra to give to others who actually have needs. You model for your kids the value of sharing, of delayed gratification, and the reality that we don’t get everything we think we want, but we can still be happy. 

Limits Awaken Our Creativity

Today’s post by: Karen Trefzger.

Karen Trefzger wanted to be a singer when she was 4. She studied piano and violin, and later began singing in church, at school, and in competitions. After college she became a choral director, and performed with several northern California orchestras and opera companies, where her flexible voice allowed her to sing both soprano and mezzo soprano roles.

Along the way Karen also discovered a love of reading and writing, and an interest in early childhood education. Her original intention to home school her children through first grade became an 18-year odyssey that ended with her youngest child going to college in 2007.

Karen’s journey as a minimalist began as a way to help her family thrive on her husband’s salary while she remained a stay-at-home mom. Over the last 20+ years she’s been inspired and instructed by writers and bloggers such as Elaine St. James, Vicki Robin, Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, Courtney Carver, and Dan Erickson. Karen blogs at (that’s maximum gratitude minimal stuff). 

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