Written by Kelley Holland:  Money messages come fast and furious during the holiday season: you need to have the perfectly decorated home, the sparkling tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped gifts, the glittering menorah, the on-trend but festive holiday outfits, and so on.

But are those the things that really make the holidays special for you? Now, in November, is a great time to step back and do a values check. How do you know when you have had a happy holiday season? What shows up for you when you think about happy holidays past? Is it a cooking smell? A sledding expedition? The music? Whatever surfaces for you are the things to pay attention to. Then, think about ways to bring those things into the coming season.


Gift giving is a prime example. This time of year, blaring ads announce discounts or glittery add-ons if you spend just – this – much – more, but what if your values check helps you notice that you really like knitting new creations for your loved ones? Consider this permission to skip the mall, make a cup of tea, and get those needles clicking.

Food is another case in point. We can all conjure up images of the stereotypical groaning board overflowing with sumptuous food. But what if your favorite holiday food is latkes made from your grandmother’s recipe, or oyster stew on Christmas Eve? What if your celebratory foods look nothing like those glossy images? This is your holiday, and there’s no reason you can’t focus it around whatever special foods resonate with you and your family.

When you focus on the things that resonate with you, you’ll probably find that you are spending less. That’s great! It may feel even better when the January bills come, too.
Even better, you may be getting another benefit: there is research to show that certain activities, like enjoying social relationships, savoring pleasures, and being deeply committed to meaningful goals, can measurably increase your happiness.

Got it? If you step back and focus on what matters to you about the holidays, you may save money and have a happier holiday season. That’s a pretty special gift to give yourself.

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