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Stress Free Holiday Family Traditions: How to Celebrate without Breaking Your Family Budget

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday during the winter months, there is no time like the present to change so that your celebration enriches your family life without impoverishing you. Consider the following ideas, many developed by the Parenting for Peace and Justice Network, as you develop new family traditions.

Presents or Presence?

This is a time of year when families naturally tend to spend more time at home and indoors. Take advantage of the weather and the season by instituting a family fun night. Favorite board games, a classic video with popcorn, or an impromptu game of charades can all form the basis of a weekly family night.

Ground rules for the evening should be agreed by all and perhaps posted on the wall. This is not a time to talk about why your teen broke curfew your tween’s bad report card. Keep the food and fun simple, take off your shoes and spend some quality time together.

Another way to spend time together is by volunteering as a family. Sit down and come up with creative ideas of ways you can help others. Maybe there is an elderly neighbor who could use your help with simple tasks like shoveling the walkway or maybe he or she needs someone to talk to now and then. On the other hand, your children may be interested in collecting donations for an international project or they just might want to feed the squirrels in your yard! Whatever you do, make sure your family has a passion for it and involve all family members in some way.

Food for the Soul

Many holiday celebrations revolve around food. Cook with your kids and let them help create the menus. Rotate responsibility for selecting and preparing the snacks served on family night. Select some favorite traditional foods and make them together, either using the recipe your mother used or developing an updated recipe with your kids. Or do both, side by side, and see which version tastes better!

Making cookies together is one way to involve children in holiday preparations. Let them select at least one type of cookie that you will make as a family and get them involved in mixing, cutting out shapes and frosting. Even the littlest of Santa’s helpers can help with a little planning on your part. Go to discount stores and find inexpensive cookie tins or boxes, line with colored tissue paper and fill with your cookies. Add a few pieces of candy and you have a low cost, home made gift.

Deck the Halls

Start an heirloom collection by asking family members and friends to give you an ornament this year that has some meaning to them, whether a new ornament or one from their collection. As you decorate your home for the holidays, start with this group of precious items and spend some time talking about how much you appreciate that person as you place the item on tree, mantel, or other prominent location. In the future, as some of your family members grow old and pass on, you will find that these ornaments are indeed the most precious ones you have.

As the holiday season comes to a close, make sure to spend some time talking to your family about what things worked well, and for those things that they did not like as well, can they be improved in the future. You will find that your holidays are filled with cheer and love and the only thing missing will be the stacks of credit card bills in January.