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| bang for your buck |

by Jim Hornor
It feels like it the holiday season along with its' complimentary frigid temperatures stumbled into my living room like that one dinner guest who didn't bring the wine... I'm not happy about it, but I'm coping!  Along with the holiday season, I'm reminded of the social constructs that we force ourselves into whether it be out of tradition, religion or habit.  It can be an unnecessarily stressful time of year and it really shouldn't be. 

I was reminded of this over the Thanksgiving holiday as I was preparing the meal and side dishes ahead of time trying to anticipate the things I'd need the day of and what the guests would appreciate the most to make the dinner feel special to them. While everything turned out beautifully, I had to laugh...all that time and energy I spent on the meal and the hit of the dinner was a store-bought pie and the stuffing, two things I personally place on the "make it or break it" of the Thanksgiving day meal.  It was a running joke I didn't let the table live down, but moral of the story - don't sweat the small stuff! You can only do the best you can do!

With fashionable parties to attend, and gifts to give, it's a good time to be resourceful and plan the holiday season with a purpose! Here are a few cost-conscious ways that might inspire your holiday shopping this season:
M A K E   A   L I S T 
I know it seems like a no-brainer, but the best thing about lists is that they can be crossed off - and that feels really good. Don't just make a list, but include a budget with that list.  For those of you who haven't heard of Trello, check it out - it's good to manage those pesky family holiday dinners with ALL the food allergies,  as well as project management amongst your colleagues.
W O R T H    I T
We've all received that forgettable gift that we all know was $5 at the Christmas tree shop (or alike). Albeit cute and festive, at the end of the day, corporate america made a dollar and the landfill added yet another "thing" to it's collection. When giving something thoughtful and "worth-it" this season, consider the 4-gift rule, some of you parents might already use for your kids, but is also applicable to friends and dinner parties.

G I F T L E S S   H O L I D A Y
Albeit not as magical or popular as opening gifts on Christmas morning, some people are placing more value on time rather than money. Whether you volunteer with friends or donate your time or clothes at a local community shelter, you are bound to make those who have less, feel so grateful because of your contribution. I used to volunteer at a soup kitchen a couple years back and found it to be both humbling and super fulfilling.
I listen to Spotify on my phone and because I don't pay to have an ad-free experience, so I get to hear who sponsors are every 30 minutes of listening ;) But I noticed that Lululemon just launched a sponsorship with Spotify and as opposed to filling the ad with their campaign, it's rather called "breathing space" - it was weird at first, and now that I've heard it, I'm like, oh yeah, "just Breathe" 

Find time this upcoming month amidst work deadlines, the business of social engagements and crowded stores to breathe and put life into perspective. Enjoy the time you have with your loved ones and above all, be kind, humble and grateful.
If you have a way that you've found helpful to manage the holiday season, please share it with us! I love hearing from you:
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