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With family, church, work and school activities during the holidays, demands on time can create stress. Your calendar quickly becomes packed with projects, performances and parties – leaving no time to enjoy what is meant to be a time of peace. Planning ahead can help get rid of the holiday stress and turn this time into a time of joy.

1. Make a list of everyone to whom you normally give gifts. Families grow over time, so your gift list needs to be reasonable and affordable.

2. Look for creative ways to celebrate without gift giving if you’re a part of a large family. Have everyone bring copies of favorite holiday recipes to share at a planned dinner time instead of giving gifts.

3. Set a budget. Decide what you can afford for each person, including your kids. Tell children ahead of time what they can ask for. If something is out of the ballpark, gently let them know.

4. Buy gifts in bulk for teachers, pastors and co-workers, making it personal with an accompanying card.

5. Limit holiday activities. Everyone has an event at the holidays – concerts, parties and charity events can completely consume your calendar. Be selective and choose only those activities that are essential and meaningful to your family. It’s okay to say no.

Follow these steps and you just might have the best holiday season you’ve ever had.

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