The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and this year, more than ever, we should stop and pause before rushing headlong into the shopping mania that so often characterizes this time of year. With the country in financial crisis and many families burdened with credit card debt, now is a great time to focus on the true meaning of the holidays.

The secret to really feeling the holiday spirit is great organization. With a little planning we can all focus on family and celebration—not stress and discord.

Great memories, not more "things" should be the theme this year. A day of baking cookies, a trip to a museum, a concert, theater ticket, restaurant gift certificate or even a donation to a special charity can leave a more lasting impression than another scarf or one more thing that really isn't needed.

If you must give gifts, don't go overboard. Set a limit on the giving. Only buy for the kids or use a family lottery to determine who buys for whom. There are many ways to share the holiday spirit without going into debt in the process.

My advice this holiday season? Focus on shared experiences, not more stuff.

Happy holidays to you and yours!


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