You’ve likely seen or read the Dr. Seuss classic “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”: the tale of a cranky creature who disliked Christmas so much he plots to steal it from his neighbours, the Whos. What the Grinch doesn’t count on is despite his efforts to remove all signs of Christmas – the presents, the trees, and stockings – Christmas came and the Whos in Whoville embraced the day as though nothing had happened.

Though an entertaining story, the message that Christmas goes much deeper than the consumerism it fuels is one that continues to resonate today. But how do we realistically buck the trend and keep our finances on track when we’re tempted at every turn to make this the most epic holiday season ever? Here are 5 ways to keep your financial focus during the holidays, and not feel like you’re the Grinch while doing it.

1. Make Your List… and Check it Twice

Can you imagine if Santa Clause didn’t have a list? The cost over-runs on buying gifts for all the girls and boys around the world would be astronomical! All kidding aside, making a list of who you want to buy gifts for and stick to it! There are plenty of other ways to spread cheer besides buying presents.

2. Embrace DIY

Do-it-yourself gift-making is a wonderful way to show you care without breaking your budget.Baking is always a great idea. If you’re not exactly Martha Stewart in the kitchen, there are plenty of other fun DIY projects you can work on! Check out these fun and easy ideas.

3. Give the Gift of Experience

Do you remember the gifts you received last year or the year before? Likely your recollection of holidays gone by are made up mostly of the moments shared in the kitchen preparing dinner with your family and friends, or the hilarity that ensued while making a snowman with your kids. Though there are some gifts that we remember and still have, the majority of what we carry with us and look fondly back on are the memories.

Gifts of experience may include taking the family on a snowshoe or cross-country ski excursion through a local park followed by a picnic lunch on a snowy bank; volunteering with friends and family to help make the season brighter for others; a family movie night complete with popcorn and pizza; or even cooking dinner for your loved-ones in their home complete with service at the table and clean up at the end of the night. There are many no-cost or low-cost options that will create wonderful memories.

4. Break Tradition

Traditions are a wonderful thing provided that they are not putting unrealistic expectations on you or your family and friends. Though you may have always given presents to everyone in your family, does it still make sense as your family continues to grow? Do the adults really need to be included in a gift-exchange, or maybe a gift of experience makes more sense? Talk to your family and friends about making some changes. Chances are they may be feeling the same way and will be happy you started the conversation.

The key to keeping your financial focus comes down to being open to trying something new. And like the Grinch from the Dr. Seuss classic, you may find yourself enjoying a more meaningful experience.

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more…”

A little food for thought as we gear up for the holiday season.