Have a Happy HollowThankMas

Starting with Halloween, followed in quick succession by Thanksgiving and Christmas, the holiday season begins and we end up with three months of festivities, hence the term HollowThankMas.


By now, we’ve all seen the Halloween candy, costumes and decorations lining the aisles, with the Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations not far behind. I’m all for festivities and American commercialism, but sometimes the holidays can get a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips on how to keep your sanity as you celebrate this season.


Set Boundaries for Your Budget
Putting a little money aside each week for your holiday shopping is a good way to control expendi-tures. Stores like K-Mart even offer a layaway plan that allows you to pay for your items over several weeks. When Christmas arrives, all your purchases are paid for and you don’t have to worry about a big credit card bill.


Another way to control spending is to put money on a Visa or Mastercard debit card and use only the amount on that card. Having boundaries in place ahead of time is a lot easier than trying to budget on the fly.


Eliminate (or at least minimize) Emotional Stress
Shopping for the holidays can be overwhelming — not just for the budget, but emotionally, as well. The crowds and the overstimulation can overload the senses of parents and children.


One way to avoid this is to shop during the off-peak hours. Shopping during off-peak hours means that there will be a lot less crowds and you’ll be able to get through the lines much quicker. Off-peak hours are usually from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or after 8 p.m. If you like to shop on the weekends, you’ll need to get out early. Most of the large discount stores like Target and Walmart are open by 8 a.m. and there are usually not many people there at that time.
Another alternative is to shop online and eliminate the hassle of going to the stores. The wonderful thing about shopping online is that there are never any lines!


If possible, leave the kids home when you do your holiday shopping. This can you help avoid im-pulse purchases. If you cannot leave them at home establish, ahead of time, what you will and will not purchase. Having clearly defined expectations and goals helps to cut down on all the begging and whining.


Manage the Munchies
Let’s be honest, folks! Three month of eating, drinking and making merry is not good for the waistline. There’s the candy corns and caramels, turkey and dressing, and the chocolate cakes and pies. What’s a body to do?
The answer to that is to plan ahead and use portion control. I almost always eat before I go to a holiday party so that I’m not too hungry. If I eat ahead of time, there’s less of a chance that I’ll overin-dulging. Another trick is to use a small plate and do sample-sized portions. This way, you will get to taste a variety of foods without all of the calories.


With these few tips in mind, you are ready to celebrate. Happy HollowThankMas!!


–Deanna Cauthen

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