Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Get the Most Out of Christmas

I know stores already have decorations on display, but for me, Saturday, December 1st will officially begin the start of the 2012 Christmas season. In the next 25 days, we will attempt to cram more into each 24-hour day than is usually desirable. For me, the annual cramming revolves around two specific lists – my December “To Do List” and my December “Present Wish List.”

The “To Do List” for December is very important for me because as a teacher I receive a two-week vacation as school is out of session for Christmas break. (Not really a vacation because I take care of our four kids.) This gives me a greatly needed window of time to catch up on tasks at home. “Yes dear, I am putting that storm door up soon.”

The “Present Wish List” is all about what I would like to receive on Christmas day during our annual gift exchange.

This list is tricky because there are 365 things I want, but only 5-8 that I would feel comfortable asking someone else to purchase for me because of price, style, brand, etc. In reality, this wish list becomes more of a regrettable chore to compile than something I enjoy doing. Anyone else have this experience?

So the question becomes, “How do I get the most out of my Christmas wish list”? How can I maximize my return on Christmas morning?

One simple word – Give.

Uh-oh. Plot twist. You mean Christmas is all about giving?

Don’t get me wrong – I love to receive. But I think different pleasure zones are activated in my brain when I give and when I see people really appreciate it. The pleasure of giving goes deeper than the pleasure of receiving. Seems like it makes me feel better. Seems like the feeling stays with me longer.

Maybe that is because the rewards of giving are greater than the rewards of receiving.


  1. May actually fulfill a specific need. (In which case, I am truly grateful.)
  2. Usually fulfills a want. (A fleeting desire because I always want more.)
  3. Could create feelings of obligation to the giver. (I owe them because this gift was so awesome.)
  4. Pushes you to want more. (I feel deprived because I didn’t get that one thing on my list.)
  5. Nudges me to desire better. (“I really wish I had gotten the 18 volt electric drill, not the 12 volt,” I secretly say to myself as I open the package and smile.)
  6. Creates feelings of disappointment. (see #’s 3, 4 and 5 above)

Giving, in contrast:

  1. Shows others you care about them by being in tune with their needs.
  2. Encourages.
  3. Tells the receiver “I value you.”
  4. Stifles selfishness as the focus is placed on others.
  5. Requires sacrifice.
  6. Brings internal and eternal blessings that can’t be measured.

I believe the above giving principles are true, given just one caveat. Motive. Give for the wrong reasons and I invalidate everything that was just listed in the giving category.

This holiday season, give with proper motivation and as much as your budget can afford to truly maximize your Christmas return.

Do you get frustrated or energized by the Christmas season? How has giving impacted your life?

Next Post: Don’t Go It Alone – Effective Leaders Get Help

Prior Post: The Best Food Budget Ever

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  1. are you really putting up a storm door?

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