Since we have five people in our family, I divided the budget by six--one part allocated to each family member and the sixth part for everything else. It is my hope that this will pare down all the craziness that traditionally accompanies the holidays, because most of the craziness comes from reaching beyond our little immediate family. If it doesn't fit in the budget, it's not happening.
I'm hoping to experience more peace and quiet joy this year. We're planning on attending a live nativity, and going to see the lights at Temple Square. Everything else will most likely take place within the walls of our own home: baking and decorating gingerbread houses, making cookies to give to some of the girls' friends, (hopefully) building some snowmen, cutting out snowflakes to hang from the ceiling and in the windows, drinking hot cocoa after playing outside on a cold afternoon, learning about Christ's birth and memorizing the words to Christmas carols.
The only problem I'm having with this idea is the potential for centering the holidays solely around our family, without giving thought to anyone else. I want to "do Christmas" for a needy family or something like that; but perhaps that is just something that should be done during a different season of life, like when the girls get into their teenage years
A hard thing for me to give up is the mailing out of the Christmas letter. I enjoy doing it, but postage alone overshoots the entire "everything else" budget we now have in place. (Besides, I've got the blog, it's not like anyone really needs an update!)
Hopefully the new guidelines will help the season be a little more enjoyable and far less stressful for us paying adults. I love that my options somewhat require me to focus more on my girls and celebrating with preschooler enthusiasm. I have high hopes for this Christmas season--and great expectations that there will be no time needed to "recover" from it.