5 Holiday Mistakes that Put You on the Naughty List

Holiday Mistakes that put YOu on the naughty list | www.TheHeavyPurse.comLife can be a bit of a minefield at times, especially at Christmas. We get distracted and do or say things we normally wouldn’t. Or we toss aside our normal mindful spending habits and give into the holiday hype of buy, buy, buy. We shop until we drop, eat whatever we want and do whatever we please. After we bid farewell to the Holidays, we are left cleaning up the mess — financially, emotionally and physically. I say bah humbug to that!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I absolutely want to enjoy the holiday season and keep my sanity, which can seem impossible at times. So today I’m going to share five common mistakes that many parents make during the holiday season. And on Wednesday, I’ll share 5 Holiday’s Do’s.

5 Holiday’s Don’ts That Put the Bah Humbug in Christmas

Santa is checking his list and if he finds you guilty of these don’ts, you may wind up on the naughty list this year. The good news is there is plenty of time to course correct.

1. Confuse Love with Gifts

There is nothing I love more than giving gifts to my loved ones, especially Lauren and Taylor. Watching their eyes light up on Christmas morning and hearing their cries of joy as they open their gifts warms my heart. I know many people feel the same way, which is why we need to be extra mindful during the holidays of how we spend our money and honor our budget. Sometimes our love and generosity extends further than our pocketbooks allow. We need to be mindful of what we can spend without creating debt.

This is incredibly difficult for some people and we justify breaking our budget because we are spending on others, not ourselves. I understand, but when you create unnecessary debt, you put your family’s financial security at risk. Presents are not worth it. I don’t want anyone going into debt to buy me a gift and I bet you feel the same way. Keep that in mind when you find yourself tempted to spend a little bit more than you had budgeted.

Tip: Honor your gift-giving budget. Buy your loved ones the best gift you CAN afford. Give it to them with your love and it well be received with love too.

2. Turn Gift-Giving into a Competition

Sadly, I see this one happening more and more frequently. Christmas has become a competition, where we constantly compare notes with one another. Many feel compelled to outspend others or give more gifts to their kids. In other words, Christmas has turned into a game of “Keep Up”. And it’s a game you can never win.

There will always be people who spend less than you and more than you. And you shouldn’t really care what others are spending anyway (besides a general hope that they are not overspending!). Doing so can drive yourself crazy because there will always be someone doing “more”.

Most importantly, Christmas was never intended to be a competition, regardless of your beliefs. It is intended to be a time of love, giving and community. When you find yourself comparing how much you spend at Christmas with others, stop and remind yourself what Christmas truly means to you.

3. Overstuff the Holidays

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year and it is equally the busiest time of the year. It seems like we are constantly running from one thing to another and it is exhausting, not to mention stressful.

There are obviously some festivities that we don’t want to miss, but we don’t have to accept every party invitation or run ourselves ragged either. It is okay to decline an invitation. It is okay if we realize that we don’t have the time or energy to bake five different kinds of holiday treats so we buy some instead. Christmas is a special time of the year, but it loses its power when we don’t give ourselves time to enjoy it.

Tip: Review the calendar and set aside enough quiet time where the family can relax together. Those are great nights to watch holiday movies or read a holiday book.

4. Be a Grinch and Steal Christmas Cheer

There is no doubt Christmas has become highly commercialized and consumerism runs rampant during the holiday season. I don’t disagree, but it also makes me sad when I see people constantly harp on it too. To the point where you almost feel ashamed that you enjoy Christmas and buy gifts for loved ones.

You cannot control the world, but you can create change within your home. And complaining isn’t the way to do it. We combat consumerism in our home with a heavy focus on giving to others and family traditions. Gifts certainly have a place in our celebration but they are not the end all, be all. And that is our intention.

Don’t be the person who sucks the Christmas Cheer out of the room or a celebration. Instead, if you find yourself frustrated by commercialization of Christmas, then stop and ask yourself what you want Christmas to mean in your home and start implementing those changes.

5. Overlook Teachable Moments

The holidays offer many great teachable moments about family, traditions, giving and fellowship. Kids typically focus on receiving gifts, so we need to do our part to make sure they understand Christmas means more than Santa Claus. Too often, I see parents fuel their focus on receiving gifts. There is nothing wrong with gifts, but Christmas means so much more. Make sure your kids know that and holiday teachable moments are the best way for them to show them the magic beyond presents.

What Holiday Don’t have you been guilty of in the past? What Holiday Don’t do you commonly see among your friends and family?


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December 8, 2014  •  33 Comments  •  Christmas

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  1. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    I hate when the gift giving becomes a competition. For years it was like that on my husband's side of the family and we never got too caught up in it, but I would watch his family spend WAY more than they should and it only seemed like it was to impress other members of the family. A few years ago we made the gifts about the kids only and I think that everyone appreciates that route. It certainly takes the competition out of it.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      Me too, Shannon and it has unfortunately become pretty common place. It really defeats the whole purpose of Christmas in my mind! I'm glad your family found a way to remove the competition and focus on the kids instead - that is always more fun in my opinion!
  2. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    I love number one, Shannon! In my experience, single moms have a really tough time with this one. Because they feel unwarranted guilt, they really give everything to their kids, even when it's at a cost to them. I don't have kids yet, but I know that learning this now and seeing close friends and family go through it will undoubtedly help and prepare me for when the time comes. Like you said, you need to keep your budget in mind and separate gift giving from love. (P.s. I really love your holiday-themed posts this month!)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      Very true, Natalie. Mom guilt or even regular parent guilt can cause people to overspend to assuage those feelings of guilt (that sometimes only exist in their mind). We continue to confuse being a good parent as being able to buy our kids everything they want, which doesn't necessarily make you a "good" parent anyway! You really do have to separate how many gifts/cost of presents from love, otherwise you set yourself up to blow your budget. And I'm so glad you're enjoying the holiday themed posts, more to come! ;)
  3. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    Love the title of this post - cute!!! We are tempted at times to spend more at Christmas just because our general "fun" spending is so limited throughout the year right now, however, we always keep at the forefront of our minds that we are giving our kids a MUCH better gift by becoming debt free.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      I have to give credit to Tanya for the title. :) Yes, you and Rick are giving your children a much better gift by becoming debt-free and building a strong financial foundation for your family. But I understand how tempting it can be to splurge a bit too, so I'm glad that you and Rick have been able to stay focused on your top priority.
  4. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    Great article, Shannon! I think people stress way too much about the holidays.

    This year my family and my wife's family have all decided that nobody is going to stress out over anything. Like you mentioned about confusing love with gifts, that gets so many people. They think if they don't buy the perfect gift, it's like a sign that they don't care about the person.

    During the holidays, I just want to spend time with my family. That's what matters to me. :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      Love it, Kalen! I wish everyone would agree to a stress-free holiday! It really turns the holidays into a downer when you can't enjoy it because too stressed out finding perfect gifts, putting on the perfect party, etc. I just want to spend time with my family too! And maybe enjoy a piece of dark chocolate. :)
  5. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    This is a great list Shannon! I love all of them, but #1 is huge in my opinion. I think far too often, myself included, we equate the amount we spend with meaning how much we love said person we're buying for. That shouldn't be the case, which is why the thought that counts mentality being so important to remember...and staying within your budget of course. :) The one I'm guilty of most often is #3 with the holidays. It has just forced us to be more purposeful about scheduling time just for us to do things as a family.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      Thanks, John. I think everyone has been guilty of #1 at one time or another. We do have a tendency to equate how much we spend to how much we love the recipient. Of course, advertisers know this and do a good job of convincing us that it is true, even though it's not. #3 is definitely one I'm guilty of as well. There is so much great stuff going on that it can be hard to say "no" but I've gotten better at being more purposeful too. My sanity thanks me! :)
  6. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    I love this list and also hate when gift giving turns into a competition. I really don't like when people try to out-do each other by giving the most gifts. I also don't like the commercialization of Christmas but I keep it to myself because I don't want to be "that guy."
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      I don't like when people compete or try to outdo each other too. It's one thing to feel good about the gift you have boughten someone but it's another thing when it's done to create jealousy in others. That sort of defeats the purpose of giving!
  7. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    I must admit I'm fairly grinchy. :) But it's only because for ME Christmas doesn't have a lot of meaning based on past experience, however I would never want to take that joy from someone else. :) One thing I make sure I do is not accept too many party invitations. It's a great way to wear yourself down and experience burnout.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      I don't think you are grinch at all, Tonya. You are honest that Christmas is not your favorite holiday, but I've never heard you say anything to put down others for enjoying the holiday season. Whereas I've seen people get so negative about the holidays that you can see the holiday magic just die in their kids' eyes and that makes me incredibly sad. There are so many Christmas/End of Year parties that it is easy to experience burnout. I try to be mindful of what we can realistically do too.
  8. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    Oh man, I have tried to keep up with my sister in gift giving to my parents. I remember one year when our daughter walked over a new family picture of our family and some new pictures of their granddaughter that my parents could put up in their house. Every grandparent loves pictures and we were feeling pretty good. Then my sister and her husband go out to their car and walk in a 42" flat screen...and me and my wife just looked at each other. Last year they gave my parents iPads...which have become giant paperweights since my parents don't care about it. Luckily my wife keeps me under control and reminds me that is just what my sister does...but it just gets old year after year.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      It is really tough when you have sibling that always wants to outdo everyone. It's really the best to not compete, which isn't always easy to do, because you never win and will drive yourself crazy. And end up broke. It's honestly sad and hopefully some day your sister will realize your parents love no matter how much or little she spends on them. And yes, grandparents can never have enough pictures of their grandchildren! Those gifts are always huge hits.
  9. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    I have been guilty of all of these. I am so happy to say that I have turned a new leaf.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Monday, December 8th, 2014
      Good for you, Michelle! That's what matters most! :)
  10. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    This one by FAR is the biggest issue in my family -> "Turn Gift-Giving into a Competition." My sister and I really competed for a while as our income went from zero to minimum wage to slightly above minimum wage. It's not as bad now but there is still a little bit of that in our family. It's really easy to get caught up in that or dwell on the fact that you spent $30 on someone's gift and they spent $10.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
      I think this is a common problem among siblings. We do tend to compete with one another, even when it's just for fun. And lots of people do keep score when it comes to the cost of presents.
  11. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    Hi Shannon,

    It is sad the Christmas is so commercialized. We're forgetting the reason we celebrate it in the first place. That's one thing I make sure my kids and now grandkids know.

    As usual you've shared some great tips here. I've seen the competition among gifts too when it's really the thought that counts.

    Gladly passing this along! Have a great new week!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
      It is sad how commercialized Christmas has become, which is why it's so important we take a special effort to make sure why we actually celebrate Christmas. I'm glad you're making sure your kids and grandkids know it's true purpose. Hope you're having a great week too, Corina!
  12. Monday, December 8th, 2014
    One of the best things I did years ago was give up on trying to compete. My family is all about quantity of gifts, and Jim and I decided it wasn't worth sacrificing our debt repayment at the time to play the game. They still think we are kind of scroogey, but we only buy for the kids on my side of the family and give the grown up pictures. I'm hoping someday they adopt our way.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
      I'm glad you did what was right for you and stopped trying to compete. It's a shame that so many people get caught up in the quantity of gifts or value expensive gifts more. Hopefully some day your family will have a change of heart.
  13. Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
    Great advice! Its so important to remember that Christmas is about love and spending time with the people you love. Its not about having this year's "must-have" toy which will be forgotten about by January.

    I saw a horrible statistic on an infographic last week which shows how millions of people took out payday loans last year at Christmas to pay for presents. That is just madness, and shows that society has completely forgotten about the meaning of Christmas. One very big win for the retail giants!! :(
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
      That is so sad. I understand wanting to give your family a nice Christmas but a payday loan shouldn't be the answer. I recognize for many people money is tight, but there are other alternatives that can help make sure your kids have a few gifts without you needing to take out a loan to pay for them.
  14. Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
    I'm all for frugally enjoying Christmas! Fortunately our families don't go overboard on gifts and we're able to keep our spending pretty low. I just need to stay away from all of the Christmas cakes and treats!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
      LOL! Me too, Mrs. Frugalwoods. All those tempting treats are what I need to watch too. :)
  15. Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
    My family used to do #2. Everyone had to buy for each other and I swear it felt like a competition. Once we all had kids, I finally convinced my siblings that it was time to stop buying for each other.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
      Yeah, it's crazy how gift-giving can turn into a competition. It's really not a surprise so many people actually dislike giving gifts because of this. It really does take the joy out of it. I'm glad you finally got your family onboard so you could enjoy the holiday, rather than compete!
  16. Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
    The one on your list that really hits me is over-stuffing the holidays. One time before we had kids my wife and drove from Atlanta to Ohio (to see my family). From Ohio we drove to New Jersey to see Kim's mom. From there we drove to Fort Myers, FL to see her dad and grandmother. Then back to Atlanta from Fort Myers. All this in two weeks. That was an insane two weeks. There is no way I could do that now with four kids. Yes the holidays can be for travel and for being with family. But you have to find rest in their somewhere.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
      Wow! I would have been exhausted too, Brian. But it's so true, we stuff so much into the holidays already and add on visiting all the relatives - it can be insane. December is a busy month for us, but we actually manage to keep Christmas Day pretty low-key, which is really nice.
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    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan