The 1st Day of Christmas with Ruth Soukup–Living Well, Spending Less

Welcome to the 7th annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!!!

12 days graphic

12 Days.

12 friends guest posting sharing a Christmas idea, recipe or favorite with you.

12 great giveaways for you to enter along with one GRAND PRIZE for someone who comments to enter all 12 days!!

Let’s get started with Day One! {I’ll be announcing what the grand prize is a little later. You know, to build suspense!}

Please help me welcome the relentlessly savvy – Ruth Soukup!  Ruth believes with all her heart that a life well lived is not so much about what we have, but Ruth-Profile-2013-Rounded-735x1024who we are. Her mission is to empower and inspire women everywhere to seek—and find—the Good Life. Through her popular blog, Living Well Spending Less,, she encourages her readers to follow their dreams and reach their goals, sharing easy-to-implement tips and strategies for saving time and money while focusing on the things that matter most. Her practical advice has been featured in numerous publications, including Women’s Day, Redbook, and ALL YOU, and her new book, Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life will be available in bookstores on December 30th. Connect with Ruth on her blog, Facebook or Pinterest.

Keeping your holiday budget (and stress) in check.

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holidays now in full swing, it can be really easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this busy season.  There is seemingly always one more present to buy, one more ingredient to get, or one more card to send.  While it is easy to put off dealing with the repercussions until later, all those little costs can add up to a lot more stress come January.

Good planning is SO key!  It is so important to decide now what you can afford to spend, and to break it down into categories to get a clear idea of what that means for your family.   And in the spirit of stockpiling, planning your menus, grocery lists, and gift needs ahead of time will also mean giving yourself an opportunity to stock up on the items you need when they are at their lowest possible price.)

While it’s wonderful to give gifts to our loved ones, remember that it’s in celebration of the larger season—and it’s not just about consumerism. Give a gift of yourself, or consider making something special for the people on your list this year. Encourage children to make meaningful items, write letters and cards, or perform an act of service.

For the past few years my husband and I have used a simple holiday planner to help keep our family organized.  Writing out and narrowing down the most important family activities has really helped us cut back on the strain of a jam-packed schedule, and if taking on too much is adding to your stress, you might find that it helps you too.  For example, maybe you’ll discover that everyone in your family LOVES making Christmas cookies together, or family game night, or watching a Christmas movie—these are your must-dos. However, perhaps your husband can’t stand caroling, your daughter doesn’t like to be cold while looking at Christmas lights, and you’ve been invited to nine Christmas pageants. Eliminate the activities that are not “must do” items and stick to the truly meaningful. No one needs to do everything!

Another great way to get focused on the things that matter most is by joining my free Stress Free Christmas Challenge. Each day you’ll receive a short but encouraging five minute video sent straight to your inbox.  Each day focuses on one small practical tip for not only getting things done–everything from setting goals to saving on groceries and getting our house in on order for the holidays–but for keeping our priorities in check along the way too.  The challenge is completely free to join, and when you sign up here, you’ll also get instant access to the 2014 Holiday Planner!



Now for the Giveaway: 

Ruth is generously offering 3 copies of her upcoming book Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, to the winners of today’s drawing.

To enter for a chance to win, simply enter a comment on today’s post sharing how you find ways to spend less at the holidays. {Or why you wish you did!} Or, what do you do to plan ahead.

Don’t forget to come back for all 12 days! {And remember, if you comment on all 12 posts, you might win the Grand Prize!}


  1. Every year I’ve ended up stressed, but this year, I wanted things to be different. I started planning the beginning of November and now that I don’t need to rush from one thing to the next, Jesus is the center of this holiday season this year.

  2. I try to only shop sales when Christmas shopping & I try to do most of it with the black friday sales or cyber monday sales!

  3. This is hard sometimes! It’s so tempting to pick up good deals and they quickly add up. I have been trying to really think of gifts in a different way this year, because I bet my kids don’t remember half of the gifts from last year! I hope to create memories instead–things to do together instead of more stuff.

  4. I have a budget for the holidays and gift-giving. Also, I shop during sales esp. on black Friday, etc. I love making crocheted stuff for my gifts (save a lot this way too).

  5. I have everything budgeted out so I know how much I’m spending and who I’m spending it on. Once the gift is bought, I put a check mark next to the name and how much I spent so I know how close on budget I am.

  6. We make a list of those we want to buy gifts for and then set a budget. It helps to stay on track with our budget by shopping early. Otherwise, we end up spending more when we get down to the wire.

  7. Our kids get 2 presents: one from us and one from “Santa.” I have a set amount per person. Also, I put things in my Amazon cart to watch the price.

  8. I have a goal to only purchase gifts that are on sale or items for which I have a discount code or coupon. It works quite well. I used to spend $50 per person for gifts for my children, sons-in-law and eight grandchildren, but about three years ago, I decided to shave off $20 per person. I’ve been delighted that I’ve still been able to give wonderful gifts by looking for sales, etc.
    I recently made three gifts for friends by attending a fun, girls’ night out at my daughter’s church. It was called a “Pinterest Christmas” and all the supplies for three crafts were included in the ticket cost. It was fun and included desserts and Scripture readings. It was so nice to make the crafts without having to go to 20 stores to get all the needed items. Proceeds are going to the church’s women’s ministry.

  9. We give gifts all year round.
    So for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day each person gets a special, unique gift. It makes the Season more special.

  10. We give gifts throughout the year and only purchase 1 fun gift for Christmas Eve and 1 for Christmas Day. This way these two gifts are special & unique.

  11. I asked my kids to think about the three gifts they would like to receive. And then we try to stay within that gift number and a budget.

  12. For the past few years, I have been recovering from some health difficulties, but our adult children stepped in and made Christmas a wonderful time for the 5 children who are still at home. I feel so blessed to have them in our lives! This year, I have purchased some gifts from my children’s school fundraisers. It sounds expensive, but I like to support them and it kills 2 birds with one stone, so to speak. One thing I bought is handmade beaded star Christmas decorations made by Massai women in Africa. I like supporting artisans in other cultures for gifts, and am glad that the fundraiser catalog had such an option.

  13. We start in the fall, setting aside any “extra” money that comes in & isn’t needed for more immediate needs. That determines what we can spend at Christmas time. We prioritize who we buy gifts for, starting with immediate family & close friends and/or co-workers & spreading out from there. And we limit the amount we spend on each person, proportionate to how much we have to spend.

  14. We set a spending limit & recently started giving 4 gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear & something to read (we still do a Santa gift for the girls & stocking stuffers!)

  15. In order to save during the holidays, I buy turkey on sale. Keep a clear budget, and make home-made gifts.

  16. I try to save money but shopping sales, cutting coupons, buying items on ebay and using the Retail Me Not App on my phone which has so many wonderful coupons and deals for all the stores I shop at.

  17. I’m really trying to find unique gifts that also benefit good causes such as the women in other countries who make scarves, jewelery, etc.; local businesses; animal welfare organizations, etc. So many one-of-a-kind gifts that help make the lives of others (human & animal) better.

  18. Homemade gifts are the best and they keep the budget down. I especially love treats to bless my friends and folks I meet during Christmas.

  19. I love to bake! I’m planning on getting some cookies and treats put together for neighbors and family members. Bonus: Baking is actually relaxing to me. How cool is that!

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