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Happy holidays on 10% plan

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Preparing for the holidays is a lot of work.

It takes time, energy and mostly making some very difficult decisions right away.

Because I am sure you want to have an easier, nicer Christmas, cheer up and prepare for a merrier holiday season. It really is very easy.

Resolve upon three strategies: Plan to spend just 10 percent less (than last year), decide to do just 10 percent less (than your usual holiday routine); and, resolve to eat just 10 percent less (than you would like).

Now, I didn't say don't spend, don't do and don't eat. The holidays are not a "fast," but most of us could use to have a little more "diet" in our December. This can come quite naturally if you take the "lower calorie" approach.

You might conclude, "I will spend money, but only this much and in this way.

I will be involved with some activities, parties and social obligations, but I will remember that saying no is not the end of the world.

I will enjoy some eggnog and some cheesecake and even an extra chocolate or two.

But I will not eat as much as I am offered just because I am offered it, nor will I keep all the chocolates out and about to torment me. Some yes; all no!"

So, look at this year's holiday calendar.

What can you do to be more creative and less indulgent as you plan your gifts and thus save 10 percent?

How can you be social enough and yet save 10 percent of your time?

Which of your many treasured treats will you taste and what 10 percent will you defer to another, thinner time in your life?

It is deciding beforehand that makes for a more orderly holiday season.

When will you put up the tree and what 10 percent of the house will you leave undecorated?

And how about gift wrapping? How can you satisfy with 10 percent less?

And what will you decline in favor of keeping your belt notched at the same place during the next eight weeks?

Remember, if you can shift gears downward just 10 percent, you will set the stage for others to be able to relax and enjoy the holidays more, too.

So spend less, do less and eat less.

Decide upon your 10 percent "diet" plan now and hold steady. Some, but not too much. A few but not too many. A taste but not the whole piece, thank you very much.

Marie C. Ricks is a motivational speaker and the author of the House of Order Handbook and other home management materials. To order her products, offer comments, suggestions, or questions, go to www.houseoforder.com. © Marie Calder Ricks/House of Order