For many folks, December is a month in which they think deeply about peace, goodwill, and family togetherness. Whether your family celebrates primarily from a secular or a religious point of view, I imagine that you strive to nurture feelings of joy, togetherness, and harmony. One of the best ways to accomplish that goal is to focus on relationships instead of on stuff. How will you create a memorable holiday that doesn’t break you or your budget?

Be sure to balance your efforts to make your holiday special with an awareness of the realities of time, energy, and financial constraints. Avoid the temptation to overspend in any of these categories!  Instead, choose to spend time together as a family. Long after kids have forgotten their must-have gift of a specific year, they will still remember any moments of deep connection, silly antics, or fun activities shared together as a family.

When you unpack whatever decorations you’ve accumulated over the years, take the time to savor the good memories they evoke. For example, items that my children created during their elementary years have pride of place along with fancy, store-bought ornaments. They call to mind the childhood versions of themselves and a time when I was actively engaged in parenting. Since I live in a smaller house, some of my treasured ornaments now live in my children’s homes and I enjoy reminiscing with them about the memories they call to mind for them and me.

When I was a child, I delighted in grabbing a handful of tinsel and throwing it onto the tree. This horrified my sister who loved arranging things on the tree with precision. As adults, we laughed uproariously over that. As children, it was an issue we took seriously. My mother helped us broker a solution. We each were responsible for half of the tree. This difference in temperament and decorating style continued to show up even when we became adults with families of our own, You probably won’t be surprised to learn that her tree won her neighborhood award more than once. Needless to say, mine never did. However, we both enjoyed our personal version of “how things should look.”

Perhaps in your own family, you also have similar divergent approaches to decorating your tree, your house, and your yard. How might you forge a compromise that satisfies everyone? Why not use our GROW Model to help you?

Of course, when you try to create a memorable holiday, it is about much more than sparkling decorations, candles flickering in the dark, and tables heavy with special foods. The most important aspect of this holiday season is strengthening our connections to family, friends, and community. Good things happen when our Core Values guide us—and our families—as we strive to accomplish connectivity, belonging, generosity and neighborliness. Be intentional about what and how you will build your version of a wonderful holiday. How do you want it to look and feel? How will you determine if you can afford something? Budget your energy, time, and money. In mid-January when you look back, what will you hold as the highlights?

Now imagine it is the end of January. How well did you accomplish your goal to create a memorable holiday? What did you do well? Where did you err? If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently?

Now return to today. Using the answers to the previous three questions as a guide, adjust your plan accordingly. Whatever holiday you celebrate may it be joy-filled and memorable for all of the best reasons.


Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We’ve faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online. We do not place children for adoption nor do we facilitate adoptions. Contact us: 1-800-653-9445. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation.

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