Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Dear Smart Money People,

In 8 months Christmas will be here.  Ah, Christmas! What did you think I meant? 

As a person that works in Corporate America, my life is divided into quarters. Q 1 flew by. We are just about to begin month 2 of Q 2. Also flying by.

That gave me pause.

What have I accomplished so far and what do I want to accomplish for the rest of the year? Because today matters. You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Christmas Karen?

It will be here before you know it. 😳 And what you do today, matters.

In preparation for the upcoming holiday season, I want to share some tips and tricks to get ready for when they actually get here. The more you can think, plan and prepare, the more you will be able to enjoy the time with friends and family instead of the hustle and bustle of the time of year.

3 Tips to make the holidays more peaceful & enjoyable

  1. Start looking into travel plans now

Many people travel for the holidays. Thanksgiving break has been well known to be the most highly traveled time of the year. According to this CNN article, in 2018 30.6 million people traveled on US airlines during Thanksgiving week. According to AAA, in the same article, an estimated 48.5 million people drove to their Thanksgiving destination in 2018. WOW, WOW, WOW. That is a lot of people moving about the country.


  • Know your budget first. Save for it and stick to it.
  • Check several travel sites well in advance. You will know when you get a good price because you will be familiar as you have been watching the prices.
  • Check out Airbnb if you are not staying with family or friends. Maybe someone is heading out of the town your heading into and renting the space- win win!
  • Plan out your trip. Dates, travel time, packing lists, presents, snacks (never forget the snacks).

  2. Consider Holiday meal planning options

I typically host Thanksgiving for my family. That could include up to 21 people depending on who is traveling this year. I love it, but it is a lot of work. I manage it by setting a menu that meets everyone’s must have favorite food, and then ask people to sign up to bring a dish or two. That way the work is divided amongst all people and far easier for me. I also will watch out for sale items, paper product, between now and the holiday season. I don’t need a Hollytree on my plates, napkins or cups. I just need them not to break the bank 😉


  • Begin in a month in advance of the holiday with a list of all the things you will need for the holiday festivities.
  • Write out the events of the day. For example: If your family starts with breakfast, then you head to cousin Sally’s for an early dinner. What are all the things you will need prepared and have a list. When I make breakfast on Christmas morning I have a list. When I head to my sister in laws for dinner, I have a list. Lists are awesome. My husband would disagree that they are awesome. But I love them.

   3. Make your gift list NOW

Last year I considered what gift giving meant. What was the purpose of giving gifts? Sometimes I felt like it was out of obligation and ritual. That’s just what we do. One of my BFF’s once gave me a gift, a necklace, out of the blue. It wasn’t my birthday, or Christmas or Arbor day, clearly as she didn’t get me a tree. She said, “When I see something I like for someone I like I buy it.” Hmm. Smart.

I’m not saying don’t buy gifts. I am saying don’t buy gifts because you feel like you have too. My kids have all the things. All of them. Most of the kids in my extended family do as well. Last year I had a chat with my sister in law’s and said “Happy to do this if it means something to you and there is a deeply desired gift for the kids, but if not, maybe we donate the money to charity?


  • Think about and talk about what giving means to you
  • Talk to your family about what giving means to them
  • Consider if you are giving out of obligation, joy, habit, desire and go with that emotion
  • Make a list of those you will buy for
  • Make a budget
  • Start thinking about what a meaningful present looks like
  • Start asking loved ones for what they might want (and you can start keeping an eye out for those things!)

My wish for you is that the holidays don’t take you by surprise, they don’t steal your joy and they don’t break your bank.

Let me know if this was helpful!

Wishing you love and peace. You’ve got this!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Santa Claus: Light Skin Tone on Apple iOS 12.2


Karen and Bill

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