Celebrating Christmas | Being Meaningful Within Your Means


November is here folks and in this house it is now safe to start listening to Christmas music, lighting peppermint candles, and thinking about all of the excitement and opportunity this time of year brings. Unfortunately, all too often along with that excitement sometimes comes the “gift” of being overwhelmed and stressed. Well, I am on a quest to make sure that is NOT the case for anyone that stumbles across these pages. This year we want to help us all have a magical Christmas season that is meaningful within your means.

This year we want Christmas to be about depositing hope, instead of checks…indulging in the currency of kindness and of course giving instead of receiving.

If you think back to your childhood and time spent with family during the Christmas season, I doubt your memories drift to the getting and receiving. Like me, I hope instead you remember the time spent with family. Christmas Eve services and potluck dinners, spreading holiday cheer and making gingerbread houses, maybe your memories include games with your cousins or secret shopping trips with dad to find or create the perfect gift for mom.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is attending the Christmas Eve service at our church in my little hometown. You have to get there early to save the entire row because all of our family including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of course want to sit together. The song choices are the same every year and the reading of the Christmas story under the Christmond tree is a staple. I love seeing all the little children gather around to hear about the birth of Jesus as the high school students dress the part and act out the story. The service always ends with the singing of Silent Night and lighting of candles that represents the greatest gift of all, Jesus’ light to the world. We always go back to my parents or another families member’s house for warm soup and hours of playing games. Our family has grown over the years but this is one of many traditions that has stayed strong. Spending time with family is such a large part of the holiday season to me. Now that Chickadee is here I can’t wait to add new traditions and memories that one day she can look back on and smile.

While I know what is most important during the holiday season, I also easily fall into the trap of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and watching my bank account, time, and excitement drop while trying to keep up with it all. Meaningful Within Your Means is a challenge with SunTrust to try and do something differently this year so you can leave the stress behind and focus on making meaningful and lasting memories. There are 3 parts: YOU, TOGETHER, GIVING to OTHERS.


Your holiday season will not be enjoyable for you or your family if you are stressed.


1. Skip yearly rituals and “cultural have toos” that bring added cost and time. For example, order Christmas cards at a local drugstore instead of through a fancy online website to save money, or even better have your kids make them themselves and then stick in a family picture. Or don’t worry about taking perfectly decorated Christmas cookies to that cookie swap…just roll out some store bought sugar cookie dough, grab some cookie cutters and sprinkles and let your kids go to town. Those will swap just as well! Let go of perfectionism and just enjoy the important rituals with friends and family!

2. Where shopping, entertaining, and traveling is concerned know expectations early on (i.e. who you are buying for & what is your budget, which holiday parties you will need a babysitter for, what are your travel plans). This way you can shop sales/save money early and you won’t be pinching pennies when the holidays finally arrive! SunTrust has created a great Holiday Budget Planning Guide to keep you on track and help us both plan ahead!


As I said before spending quality time with your family and friends is so important during this season.


1. Create family and holiday activities that are FREE! Pin/Save/Print this image or save the pdf here!

2. In place of gifts participate in activities together with friends and family. For example, a holiday potluck dinner, snowman building contest, cookie swap or cookie decorating, a Happy Birthday Jesus celebration, or a Polar Express party. The possibilities are endless and many more memories will be created and remembered through quality time together.


The greatest gift of all was given during Christmas and giving in the same way to others is what the holiday season is truly all about! There are so many giving opportunities during the holiday season, and it is a great time to teach your family about what it means to give. It is a great way to spend time TOGETHER and share the holiday spirit with others. Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Courtney DeFeo speak to a woman’s group at my church. While speaking she shared a few FUN ways to give to your community during the holiday season, and some of her suggestions were the first that came to mind when trying to think of ways to GIVE. She recently released her first book In This House We Will Giggle, and it’s amazing.


1. Remember giving your time can be just as valuable as giving your money.

2. It doesn’t have to be grand to be meaningful.

3. Pin/Save/Print these 30 ways to Spread the Light within your means this holiday season or download the pdf here.

We can do this folks! Let’s try and focus on the YOU, TOGETHER, GIVE challenge this holiday season and be Meaningful with our Means. Make sure and download the Holiday Planning Guide, Free Family Activities During the Holiday Season, & 30 Ways to Spread the Light to help you reach your goals.

Do you have any other tips for me? I’d love to hear of other activities and ways to Spread the Light this holiday season!!


At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences.

To get started visit  suntrust.com/holiday

Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending.  Download here.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

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