5 Holiday’s Do’s that Put You on the Nice List

How to Get On the Nice List this Holiday Season | www.TheHeavyPurse.comStarting around September, when the stores begin setting up their Christmas displays, many parents use the threat of landing on the naughty list to keep their kids in line. No one wants a lump of coal in their stocking, after all! The ironic reality is that we, as parents, often display behavior that is more naughty than nice as evidenced in the 5 Holiday Don’ts I shared on Monday.

The good news is a little awareness can help you course correct and get your name removed from the dreaded Naughty List. And to help you earn a coveted spot on the Nice List, I put together 5 Holiday Do’s.

Santa Approved Holiday Do’s

Santa will certainly be jolly if you follow these holiday do’s this Christmas.

1. Honor Family Cultural Traditions

I’m a big fan of creating and honoring family traditions year-round, but Christmas offers us another opportunity to create traditions around our family history and cultural background. I love the melting pot we live in today, but if we don’t make an effort to celebrate our heritage, we lose it over time too.

Are there certain traditional dishes or holiday treats served at Christmas? If you don’t have a living relative who can help answer your questions, then go online with your kids and do a little research. Pick a recipe to try and serve at Christmas. I always make some traditional German recipes and talk to the girls about their Grandfather who they only know from my stories.

Make sure your older relatives, in particular, share some of their stories from growing up. They may not mean much to your kids right now, but you’ll be glad to hear them and be able to keep them alive for when your kids are ready to listen.

2. Manage Expectations Around Presents

This is a big one and it’s one that many of us overlook. Until kids reach a certain age, much of their attention is focused on those presents under the tree. They like to shake them and guess what lies underneath that colorful wrapping paper. It is so exciting to them and sometimes their imaginations get carried away.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but it has to be grounded in reality too. You do your children no favors by letting them believe Santa will bring them a pony or an expensive toy if that is not in the budget or practical.

Gifts Should Fall within a Price Range

It’s why the one parameter I give the girls when they create their wish list is price range. You have a pretty good idea on what people spend on your kids from previous years, so make sure your kids are choosing gifts that fit their budget. If your child really wants a pony, be honest about why that is not practical, then see if there are any gifts that fit their price range that involves ponies, such as going horseback riding, visiting a petting zoo where there are pony rides, a movie or book on ponies, etc.

Gifts Don’t Equal Love

This is also a great time to talk to kids about why people give gifts at Christmas. And why the cost or number of gifts don’t signify greater or lesser love, but simply is a personal choice. To be so grateful for every gift received.

3. Focus on the True Meaning of Christmas

Christmas means different things to everyone. And that’s okay. Just know what means to you and your family. In our home, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He gets top billing during Christmas and the girls know it. We also believe Christmas is a time to give back and to be with loved ones. We make sure how we spend our time and money reflect those values too.

This is not something Chris and I keep to ourselves, but we openly talk to the girls about our values and beliefs and how we honor them through the choices we make. Santa Claus and gift-giving are part of the fun, but we try to give the girls perspective the best we can.

One thing we also recognize is that for very young kids nothing trumps Santa Claus. And that’s okay. We still focused on our traditions and values, even when they meant more to us than they did to the girls. But as they have grown older, his importance has begun to diminish. Now I hear more often, “Mom, when are we going to decorate the tree?” or “Mom, when are going to make our gingerbread homes?” or “Mom, have we adopted our family for the holidays yet?”. And that is music to this Mom’s ears.

4. Acknowledge Blessings and Give Back

There is so much amazing stuff happening right now, and there is also lots of horrible things going on too. And in our own personal lives, it can be easy to focus on what’s not working, where it’s big or small. We get stuck and feel lost, forgetting how blessed we truly are. Giving and gratitude is the best way to break out of that cycle.

There are endless opportunities to give back during Christmas from food drives, Toys for Tots, Angel Trees, adopting a family for Christmas, volunteer opportunities and of course, giving money to organizations you support. Even if you don’t have the financial wherewithal to give money, you can still volunteer or organize a food drive or toy collection at your workplace or place of worship. Much like presents, it’s not the size or cost that matters, giving just needs to come from the heart.

5. Give Yourself Permission to Have Fun

One thing I hear regularly is how stressful the holidays have become and it makes people feel very grinch-like. I understand. From all the running around and over-stuffing of activities, it can get overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be that way. It is okay to say “no” so that you actually have the time to enjoy the festivities and have fun with loved ones.

Don’t stress yourself out over making Christmas perfect. Who cares if the presents aren’t wrapped perfectly or if all your Christmas ornaments are on the bottom third of your Christmas tree because your kids couldn’t reach any higher. Maybe your Christmas cookies look like a 5 year-old decorated them instead of a master baker, but then again, a five year old did decorate them! These are actually the moments that make Christmas magical.

Laugh when best laid plans go awry, agree to read a second holiday book when the kids beg for one more story and enjoy being surrounded by loved ones. If you can do those things, it will truly be the most wonderful time of the year.

What does Christmas mean to you and your family? What is your favorite holiday do?


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December 10, 2014  •  21 Comments  •  Christmas

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  1. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    In our tradition, we prepare a certain cultural dishes every Christmas, that's what our family is looking for. Last year, our food were mainly Japanese food, though there were still pasta dishes, cakes, and others. This year, we're having German dishes. Basically, we have to do some rigorous research to pull it off. Having this tradition gives us fun when preparing and lets us have something to look forward to.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      Love that, Jayson! What a great idea and definitely fun for everyone to do together too. :)
  2. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    I like keeping the real meaning of Christmas in mind (number 3) during the holiday season because the rest falls into place by doing this (gift expectations and giving for example).
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      It is so important to keep the true meaning of Christmas front and center. It really helps you from getting swept up in all the hype.
  3. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    Giving yourself permission to have fun and enjoy the season is HUGE. So many people (and I've been guilty of this as well), just try to "make it through" the stresses of the holidays. Enjoy them!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      Me too, Travis. Sometimes it feels as though you just need to "make it through" then you realize that you actually have control of what you do and do not do. Being stressed out means we miss out on so many of the special holiday moments too and our kids enjoy it less too because they feel our stress..
  4. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    Great list Shannon! I could not agree more with many of these, especially #3. We make it a point to do that in our home and is important for us to do that with how commercialized Christmas can get. We've also started helping our oldest realize there is a budget that comes into play and pick things that will fall in that. The nice thing is we take the extra we have budgeted and don't spend and put it in their college funds - double win! :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      Love that you take any extra money and put it towards their college education. They will thank you for that some day!
  5. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    We have a number of traditions we have done with our son like buying him an ornament every year so that when he moves out on his own, he can decorate his own tree, and he looks forward to these every year. He has a small fake tree in his room, and when we decorate it with his ornaments, he loves to talk about each one and why they are on his tree. It costs us about $7 a year for each ornament, but the returns add up very fast!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      We buy the girls an ornament every year too. It's a great tradition and the girls love hanging up their ornaments too. It will have (hopefully) a huge sentimental value when they leave home and I hope a tradition they will carry on with their kids someday.
  6. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    The holidays really should be more about spending quality time with your family and have good food rather than what you're receiving for gift. Great list!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      Thanks, Tawcan! I agree, family first!
  7. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    I'm Ukrainian, so we celebrate Ukrainian Christmas on January 6th and 7th with a meal full of delicious borscht, pierogis, and other traditional dishes. I'm not religious, but I enjoy practicing our family traditions.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      Sounds delicious, Stefanie. And a real celebration of your heritage!
  8. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    We've started a few of our own traditions. Like Shannon and her son, we buy a new ornament every year and we always play board games on Christmas Day. I tried to adopt a child from the Angel Tree, but the names are all already gone. I take that as a good sign that there are less needy children or more generous people this year.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      The buying an ornament for your children seems like a popular tradition. We do it too. It's fun and they really look forward to hanging up all their ornaments. And I hope there were less needy children and lots of generous people. :)
  9. Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    It's amazing how difficult this is around the Holiday season -> "Give Yourself Permission to Have Fun." I know my parents both get really stressed out around the holiday season, as they typically host, and it seems difficult to have fun when you are worried about so many details being perfect. I also have trouble having fun when I'm going from one thing to the next - all I really want is a nap! Haha.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
      It's is crazy how difficult it can be to just let go and give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays - regardless of whatever happens. And yes, when you're going from place to place, it gets exhausting fast!
  10. Thursday, December 11th, 2014
    Great tips...I think the price range is a good idea. Keeping expectations realistic is also don't want them to be disappointed. When the little one gets older, I'd love to start a tradition of giving back to show him what true Christmas spirit really is. Right now I'm dealing with co-workers constantly asking (though with good intentions I guess) what I'm getting my 17 month old. I'd love to just enjoy this age where he doesn't ask for anything and is content to play with a box, plastic containers, keys, etc. There will be plenty of time for when he's older and asking for things...and fortunately I will be prepared after reading your tips!
  11. Thursday, December 11th, 2014
    Yes, sometimes gift-giving can get a bit hairy when people feel that they "should" spend a certain amount. Money doesn't equal love. Period. :)
  12. Sunday, December 14th, 2014
    I think these things define Christmas for my family. We do our best to stick to the true meaning and not get caught up in the commercialized version that's all about buying presents and spending money. I also think giving back is so important. We need to remember those who don't have anyone to buy for them and also those who don't even have anyone to buy for. Great post, Shannon. :)
  • Meet Shannon

    "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