Here we are at the first of December and the holidays are almost here. Hanukkah begins on the 11th and Christmas on the 25th.

Tips To Help You Make It Through The Season

First set your budget before you get started. How much can you afford to spend? If you’re looking to go all out this year, you might want to have a look on a site like as there are some great gifts here that could make someone close to you’s Christmas a particularly jolly one. Make your list of everything that will cost you money. This will include gifts as well as special entertainment that you might want to do like a movie or dinner party. Shop with cash or your debit card – people buy 18% more when they shop with a credit card. You don’t want to start the New Year off in debt.

Next get a calendar of December and write in every activity and event that you need to attend. If a gift is required make note of it so you will remember to bring one. Planning out activities on the calendar will help you decide if you can do all these events or if it is time to say no to some of them this year. You really don’t want the holidays to be a stressful time that you don’t enjoy. If you added additional gifts make sure you re-visit your budget.

Make a list of where you want to shop and what you need to buy so you will make the best use of your time and gasoline. A little planning on the front end of your day will make it less stressful and you won’t forget a special item. The list will also help you stay on budget.

Wrap gifts as you buy them so it won’t seem like a such a huge chore. If you want to go more “green” or eco friendly – use newspaper ads or the comics section. If that is too weird then go ahead and buy some paper but put it in the recycle bin rather than the trash can.

Get out your decorations and see what you have. Do you need more lights? Consider upgrading to LED lights. They are more energy efficient than standard lights. Use a timer to turn them on and off too.

Trade decorations you don’t like any more with your friends.

Use last year’s holiday cards for this year’s gift tag. Cut out the picture, making sure the back is blank so you can write in your information of “to” and “from”.

Shop with reusable shopping bags. The average American’s trash output goes up 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Volunteer and help someone else. Help your favorite charity with either your time or your money. The angel tree is popular at my church but I have friends that give their time to help prepare and serve food at missions around town.

Unclutter your house. If you must throw it in your closet then call me in January so I can help you unclutter those closets.

Give gifts that can be used. Items like soaps, kitchen towels and food are things that your friends and family can consume. Or give a gift like a membership to the McWane Center or the Birmingham Zoo. This gift can be for the whole family and they can use it for a full year. Give a gift certificate that promises a dinner and a movie with you.

Make gifts like your friends’ favorite cookies or a dinner that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. One of my favorite things to make is a green laundry detergent that I put in a cool reusable jar. I also include the recipe as part of the gift. Holiday ornaments are also another nice gift to make and give.

Here Are Some Cool Products

  • Reusable Shopping Bag – I like to wrap gifts in reusable shopping bags. The recipient gets two gifts – the gift inside and the shopping bag. I feel better because I am not adding to the extra trash and my friend is getting a pretty tote for their groceries.
  • Philips LED Mini Lights – uses less electricity than a standard set of lights. They stay cool to the touch and they last longer than standard light sets.
  • Weekly Agenda – magnets on back make it easy to attach to my file cabinet at work or the refrigerator at home. This list helps me plan my shopping trips by the days of the week. Also has a place for notes and to-do lists.
  • Recycled Paper Coasters – for your own holiday parties or use for gifts. These are made out of paper but there are some other choices like bamboo out there too.
  • Gift Cards – You can get them for products like gasoline and groceries. Or the local movie theaters have gift cards for movies and popcorn. Perfect for the last minute gifts or for the hard to buy for.
  • Soy Candles – another green product. This one can help your indoor air quality plus smell good at the same time.
  • Natural Hand Soaps – made with olive oil and essential oils. They make great gifts paired with pretty hand towels.
  • Ruthann’s Homemade Laundry Detergent

    1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
    1 cup of Arm & Hammer’s Super Washing Soda
    1 bar of Fels Naptha Laundry Soap – grated

    Mix well, pour into glass jar. Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup depending on load size. Does not make suds – so don’t worry if you don’t see the bubbles.

Got questions? Contact Ruthann by clicking here.