How to save your sanity (and your wallet) this Christmas

Rachel Nafziger

For many people, Christmas can teeter between being the happiest and most stressful time of year. From decorations and parties to finding the perfect gifts, the demands of the season can be overwhelming and sometimes overshadow the joy of Christmas.

Perhaps the best thing we can do this season is learn to say “no” to unrealistic demands that distract us from the true meaning of Christmas.

Three Areas Where We Need Help Saying “No” During the Holidays

1. Presents for everyone!

You are not Oprah. You do not have to buy gifts for everyone you know. And let’s be honest, do people really need more holiday-scented hand soaps?

When it comes to giving gifts, do for one (or a few) what you wish you could do for all. Jesus modeled this principle when He chose 12 disciples (Mark 3:13-19). It doesn’t seem fair that some were chosen and others weren’t, but Jesus understood He had limited time and could not effectively disciple everyone.

In the same way, we need to have realistic expectations when it comes to giving presents. Focus on the people closest to you or those who are most in need. Do for them what you wish you could do for everyone. If you feel pressured because of family or workplace traditions, suggest exchanging names.

Also, remember that thoughtful gifts don’t have to be expensive. A framed picture, homemade cookies, or offering to babysit are often more valuable than a designer candle.

2. Christmas parties and events

We don’t have to go to every Christmas party or event we are invited to. Even Jesus had to say “no” to the requests of others in certain situations. He knew His mission and didn’t let others’ requests distract Him from it (Mark 1:35-38).

Using Jesus’ example, ask yourself if attending a specific event will interfere with what God has called you to focus on this Christmas season. If you have a family, decide together which events are worth attending. Skip the rest.

Acknowledge your limitations and focus your time and money on things that really matter.

3. Giving to charities

Not only do we not have to give to every charity that asks for help during the Christmas season, but we also don’t have to feel guilty about saying “no.” Unless you are Bill Gates, you understand why giving to every charity is not realistic. But we may still struggle with feeling guilty or inadequate in the face of great needs locally and around the world.

This year, ask God to direct your giving. Pray about how you can best use the time and money you have to bless others and share Jesus’ love. Listen to God and do what He says. All He desires is our cheerful obedience (1 Samuel 15:22 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). You should never feel guilty or inadequate if you are doing what God has asked you to do. Remember that God used five loaves and two fish to feed thousands of people (Matthew 14:15-21). When you obey God, He can do more with your gift than you could have done on your own.

Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Savior. It is a time to be thankful for what we have and hopeful for the day when God will restore what has been broken or lost. Maintaining sanity this Christmas is possible with the proper perspective.

How would Christmas change if we acknowledged our limitations and focused our time and money on things that really matter?

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