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

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

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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. We have a Christmas budget, and we stick to it! We have learned through the years that it isn’t the stuff that makes Christmas special. . .it is family and time together and the amazing God we serve. We work hard to stay focused on the things that really matter.

  2. I buy gifts throughout the year… on sale, etc… so that it’s not a HUGE deal when the day arrives. Of course, I have to remember where I put them. HA HA! :)

  3. I have a Christmas envelope that I out money in from each time my husband gets paid. Then if I see a gift through he year I use money in the envelope to buy it.

  4. Its a challenge when your husband comes for a BIG gift giving family and you don’t. Finding balance is an ongoing journey.

  5. We have made homemade food baskets…over the past few years financially it has been tight and hard to buy gifts. It would be nice to get more ideas on what we can do when money is an issue.

  6. We try to bake candy and cakes for those we love. It doesn’t cost a lot and they are always so grateful for the ‘yummies’.


  7. My husband & I are in our 60’s now and we have 6 grandchildren so we are beginning a new tradition of just getting something for the grandchildren for Christmas, just one thing, and giving our whole family a delicious homemade breakfast in our kitchen. Everyone seems so relaxed and happy Christmas day and we enjoy watching the children happily play with their gift. The day is really to celebrate Jesus’ birth!

  8. We try to focus more on the experiences and traditions of the entire season rather than the getting and giving. Yes, we do gifts, but not as many as we used to and nobody knows the difference.

  9. I am getting into making homemade and picture gifts. We also do a family drawing for our extended family with a $25 cap so that really helps!

  10. Buying poinsettas for $1 on black friday sales(only purchase i make–avoid the rest of the day- last year- reserved them online and picked up much later than the 5 am opening) has been my game plan for the past several years for the teachers, church seniors/grandparents, hostess etc type gifts–A lot of seniors/adults cannot have the sweets from baked goods–lasts longer than flowers-but they dont feel guilty having to keep something “alive” past the season – i just have to keep them alive the 3-4 weeks while i’m gifting them to others

  11. I try to menu plan to help make sure I have a plan so we don’t eat out too much. I also am trying to plan ahead with my gifts an get them on sale.

  12. I am always working to keep us on budget! I have found myself spending a but more on activities this year than I usually do, as my parents are 79 and 80 and I am concerned that next year might bring health issues (or worse). However because these are activities, that my children get to experience with their parents and at least one set of grandparents, I know we are making memories and sharing our love for each other. It is my prayer that these memories will sustain us all in years of separation to come, until we’ll all be together again in heaven. I’d spend every dime again, it has been a special season so far!

  13. Honestly, we have a very small family. I have 2 children and am an only child. Sadly my mother in law passed this year, so there are very few people that we spend on. Being a military family we don’t get to travel over the holidays which, on the bright side, saves us money! We have a budget we stick to for spending on our boys, so honestly, we don’t spend too much at Christmas.

  14. I have a lot of tactics: shopping at thrift stores, taking surveys for gift cards, watching for sales. I love finding good discounts!

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