Marla Smart

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September 19, 2013
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Marla Smart: Start thinking about Christmas | Moms

We are well into September. School has begun. Leaves are starting to think about turning beautiful colors. Football, volleyball and soccer teams are practicing and playing all over again. And now, our thoughts can turn toward...Christmas!

Now, don’t get me wrong: I have no intention of missing out on the fall months with the beautiful decorations and wonderful family recipes that come out of the recipe box to feed our family with long standing traditions at each gathering.

But, it still is a good time to think about what is coming up. I wanted to give you a couple of things to think about as your holiday season is gearing up.

First of all, for many of us, shopping last minute is just not an option. Finances are tight and shopping on a budget has become the norm.

I have friends who begin shopping for next Christmas the day after this Christmas. I’m not that dedicated, but there is something to be said for thinking along those lines.

Have you ever waited until the last minute? I have. It’s not fun.

There is an immense amount of stress involved in waiting. And even after you’re finished with the shopping, you have to wrap everything.

Add to all that, if you are mailing any of your gifts, there are long lines and earlier deadlines to get everything to the proper place in time.

My goal, nowadays, is to get it done as early as I can to avoid the stress and help with the financial strain of it all. Thinking this way gives you a little more peace as the season comes around.

An added bonus is that you end up with a little bit of a time cushion to be able to take care of the little extra things you weren’t expecting as Christmas Day approaches.

I also wanted to give you a (very small) glimpse into how our family handles gifts for our children. We have had many years of abundance in the gift department. Besides the gifts we as parents give, they are receiving gifts from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends. It can easily become more than what is truly necessary.

So, with that in mind, my husband and I came up with a plan. We set a budget amount per person in our home. The kids get three gifts from us: a “need” (usually clothing), a “want” and something special. We also have stockings for each person filled with little, inexpensive, but fun things for each of them.

What we’ve noticed in our home is that in doing this, our kids have become more grateful for everything they receive. They are much more likely to make wise choices when giving us a Christmas wish list as well.

And, added bonus, we are able as a family to take any extra money and give it to a charity. Choosing the year’s charity has become a highlight of the season!

I hope my words here have given you some inspiration to make your Christmas more meaningful and less stressful.

Enjoy your fall holidays as you prepare for this coming Christmas. As my friend in the Philippines taught me the other day, “Malipayong Pasko!” or “Happy Christmas!”

Have you ever waited until the last minute?

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The News-Review Updated Nov 18, 2013 07:21PM Published Oct 2, 2013 08:30AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.