Stopping the Christmas countdown meltdown

You know what happens five days before Christmas? We panic, we whip the credit cards out just to be sure everyone has enough gifts to open. The budgets we set go out the window. The stress turns us into crazy, cranky people and by the big day we’re exhausted and not very Christmassy at all. If you’re feeling like you’re circling the drain, take a breath and let me help get you on back on track. There is still time to have a peaceful Christmas. You just need to take a few minutes to make a plan that will save you money, time and your sanity.

Remember to breathe and take time to actually enjoy the Season.

Make a list of all the people you still need to buy gifts for. Set a budget for each gift, if you tend to overspend shop with cash. Buy useful things like bath and beauty products, tools, office or craft supplies, a thoughtful book or a beautiful pen.

Everybody eats and food is always the right size. Give coffee or tea with a pretty mug, chocolate, a basket with ingredients to make a special meal, a muffin tin and muffin mix.

If you buy gift cards, only choose those that can be spent in more than one place like American Express. Etsy gift cards, available online, allows the recipient to choose a one of a kind handmade gift. Grocery gift cards are always appreciated.

Have you finished decorating? Again, keep it simple. You don’t have to drag out every decoration, it’s okay to have an uncomplicated décor. Especially considering you have to put it all away in a few weeks.

Plan for simple meals leading up to Christmas. Brainstorm easy meals like soup and sandwich, rotisserie chicken, casseroles and crock pot meals. Decide what to have for dinner Christmas Eve and breakfast, snacks and dinner for Christmas Day. Remember this is your holiday too, and unless you love spending it in the kitchen, keep it simple. Christmas dinner should be special but that doesn’t have to mean complicated. Roast a turkey or ham with some simple sides.

Are you making cookies or other special goodies? (These make great gifts.) This is no time for heroics so make bar cookies and use ready-made dough. Skip the fancy decorations and just drizzle glaze and throw some sprinkles at them.

Do you have wrapping paper, bows and all that jazz? If you can afford it, go with gift bags and tissue paper and be done with it. If money is tight, pick one pattern of wrap or use plain brown paper dolled up with some raffia or gold ribbon.

Set a day for power shopping after your gift list is made and stick with the list. Try to go to the store at off hours to avoid the crowds.

Prioritize gift wrapping by who you’ll see first and plan an hour each evening for gift wrapping. Marathon wrapping sessions make no one happy.

Don’t have your cards out yet? Buy “Happy New Year” cards and send them in January.

Focus on a few important things and eliminate the rest.

Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas from all of us at Divas On A Dime - Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.