Surfing Trips Can Be Challenging – Travel Tips for Protecting and Shipping a Wooden Surfboard

Traveling with a surfboard can be a hassle and expensive but most surfers want to surf those exotic waves on their own surfboard. Before you start your journey you will want to take time to make sure you know the extra costs and have all the logistics in place well in advance of your surfing mecca.

Some surfers choose to ship their surfboard in advance using a major shipper such a UPS or FedEx but this generally only works if the destination is a major surfing resort. The UPS Store will probably be more helpful than the UPS shipping office as far as packing the surfboard and shipping it for you. You should research whether or not to insure your surfboard and also make sure that surfboards are insurable since some specialty items are not covered by standard shipping insurance.

The other method for traveling with your surfboard is to take it as carry-on-luggage on the aircraft. With baggage fees going up higher and higher by the day you can expect to pay extra for checking a surfboard. United’s Airline’s Surfboard Shipping Policy. You should probably still have a backup plan even when checking your wooden surfboard at the airport as luggage because the airline could accidentally damage your surfboard or your surfboard could get lost on the way to your surfing destination. Airlines usually leave larger luggage behind if they have issues with space or weight on the airplane so your chances of having a lost surfboard are higher than having a lost bag even though you paid more to ship it. When you get to your destination you will still need to travel with you surfboard in a cab or rental car so be prepared an pack some bungy chords or twine and plan ahead.

If you ship your surfboard or take it on the airline you will need to obtain a good surfboard travel bag. More than a board sock is needed to properly protect your surfboard while traveling. A high quality bag can be obtained for a little over $100 and will save you time and money when considering the investment you have made into your surfboard and your surf trip.

Hawaii Travel Tips and Secrets

Check out these Hawaii travel tips and see if you get excited like we did.

Are you a little adventurous? Do you enjoy a bargain when it comes to travel?

This is how we travel and it has always worked out great for us. Try it at your own risk, but if you love travel bargains, you’ll love the way this works.

We like to travel in the off season and see Hawaii when it isn’t so crowded. Off season travel has its benefits and drawbacks.

The weather isn’t always the most ideal, yet, it can be every bit as good as the peak season.

We’ve gone in peak season and had crummy weather and we’ve traveled in the off season and had great weather, it’s always a crap shoot any way so we take the chance.

Normally, we get awesome air travel rates in the off season to start of the trip.

We usually only book the first night or maybe the second and then we hit the streets and the hotel lobbies searching for the booklets, newspapers and coupon guide books.

Last time we did this, it was in January, right after the new year and everything was dead.

Hawaii was like a ghost town and we were able to find some of the most incredible deals you could imagine.

We got a flight to Oahu, with a three night stay in a luxury hotel complete with a rental car for just a little more than the normal price of the inter-island flight.

Another time, while on the island of Maui, we called a hotel on Oahu and asked for the price of a suite we had stayed in on a previous trip.

For the price of a normal room, we got a 2 bedroom penthouse suite overlooking Waikiki Beach and facing Diamond Head. This was a corner room with four 10 foot sliding glass doors so it was like having glass walls and you could see everything. It had every amenity and our kids almost went nuts using Jacuzzi tubs, making meals in the kitchen and sitting on the two verandas overlooking the beach. There was a special elevator that only went from the lobby level to the tenth floor.

These are just some of the Hawaii travel tips that we’ve accumulated. We think you might like traveling by the seat of your pants as much as we do. It gives us braging rights with the relatives also.

Next time you visit Hawaii, throw caution to the wind and give it a try. I’ll bet it will be the most exciting and value packed vacation you’ve ever experienced.

Asperger’s and the Holidays

In my private practice I’ve noticed a trend. Around November, old, current and new clients call wanting to schedule sessions to talk about one topic: the holidays. The trend is not surprising: most therapists find themselves busy at this time of year, when expectations and realities can clash, and even the most mature find themselves stuck in teenager roles and feelings long since discarded.

But for a therapist who counsels adults with Asperger’s the increase in client need may be surprising to some. Aren’t Aspies supposed to be unconcerned with the judgments of others, even family members? Don’t Aspies face holiday family time with few, if any, expectations for intimacy or fun? Don’t Aspies who find themselves alone during the holidays consider their solitude a “Get Free Out of Jail” card, rather than a reason for loneliness or depression? After all, Aspies don’t really seek out relationships, right? If any of these assumptions sound familiar to you, beware of the Aspie Stereotype, which pervades media (think “Rainman”), research teams (think “Yale”), pop culture (think SNL’s “Nick Burns: The computer Guy”) and even some therapist circles (not me!).

Contrary to popular notions regarding Asperger’s, many clinicians, those who work in the trenches with adults struggling with the challenges of Asperger’s, find their Aspie clients confused and overwhelmed by the holidays. Most of us harbor conscious or unconscious expectations about the holidays – how they should feel, who they should be spent with, how tall the tree should be, who should host dinner…the list can go on. A lack of awareness of one’s own “rules” regarding the holidays can set the stage for confusion, disappointment, impulse coping skills and depression. If you have Asperger’s, you may be surprised at your own “automatic” answers to questions such as:

Should holidays be spent with friends or family? Should loved ones exchange gifts, or not? Who should travel where for the holiday celebration? Tinsel, or lights? While these questions may seem trivial, they’re not – and often they shed light on our automatic thoughts that go unchallenged and cause problems. For instance, if your “rule” is that Christmas or Hanukkah is a commercialized money-making holiday to benefit department stores, you may refuse to participate, and thus miss genuine opportunities to connect with loved ones. If you automatically decree that holidays should be spent with family or friends, you may miss the comfort that solitude can bring you.

Please don’t fall into the trap of trying to live up to what you think “normal holidays” (an oxymoron) should be like. Holidays for Aspies are often riddled with “shoulds”, which trigger resentment and resistance. Adults with Asperger’s who give themselves permission to meet their own unique needs for togetherness and solitude, fun and rest, engagement and disengagement, often find themselves less pressured, less anxious and more accepting of themselves and others. This balanced approach can prevent total shutdown mode, which is a natural response to over stimulation and helplessness.

Here are some tips Aspies may find helpful:

Plan for taking breaks during visits. Examples are taking a walk outside, taking a nap with a book, taking some quiet time for deep breathing, taking a quick ride or offering to run an errand in the car, playing a video game with someone or alone, or announcing a time-out and removing yourself from the group.

Schedule realistically. Over scheduling during the holidays can lead to burnout when being around people is gratifying, but stressful (or just plain difficult). While it’s great to push yourself to socialize, the holidays are a time to be reasonable – don’t expect yourself to go from no parties to three or four in a month. Beware of the lure of substance use. Many of us rely on the cocktail or two to help ease party anxiety. While there may not be too much harm in this, most clinicians see a surge in substance use during the holidays, which can lead to hangovers, a shaken sense of self, embarrassment, or worse. Remember that as long as you’re using substances to quell the anxiety, you’re not truly growing in your ability to handle social situations.

Be extra kind to yourself. This sounds corny, and it is. But think about it: we spend so much time during the holidays thinking about giving to others (or avoiding it!), but how much do we think about truly giving to ourselves? This is the time to use kind words and actions to take care of yourself. Ideas include buying or checking out a new book, going to the movies alone, eating a favorite meal, spending quiet time petting the cat. Seek help if you need to. Holiday therapy can be a temporary bridge to January 2! Here’s to your success in creating a holiday this year that you can anticipate with groundedness and optimism.

Travel Packing Tips

Love to travel but hate to pack? Was that a resounding YES? Of course it was. Here are a few quick tips to make the packing process a little less daunting.

Plan ahead. Research the weather at your vacation destination for the dates of your travel. Ask your travel companion, if you have one, what they’re packing. Make a list of essential items.

Check please. You’ll feel very accomplished if you check off the items on your list as you get them out and place them on your bed. Be sure you’ve included clothing, toiletries, emergency sewing kit, medications, travel documents and other necessary travel accessories.

Paper or plastic? Keep your clothes from getting soiled by putting your shoes in plastic grocery bags. Traveling by air? Put toiletries in freezer bags and sandwich baggies. Cabin pressure can make shampoo explosive…yuck!

Look before you leap. Take a thoughtful look at your bed full of clothes and ask yourself a few questions. Do you really need all those outfits or could you do a little more mixing and matching? Will anyone care if you wear the same pajamas for a week? Are there free convenience items at your hotel?

Rock and roll. You will fit more in your suitcase and have fewer wrinkles if you roll your clothes instead of folding them (except for formal wear which you’ll want to put in a garment bag).

One layer at a time. Time to load up the suitcase. Put shoes in first. Fill in any gaps with underwear and socks. Add layers of rolled clothing so that you can fit as much as possible in one suitcase. Put bags of toiletries and other items between the layers. Pack tight. Books can be packed in the outer compartments to create a shell-like protection.

Be safe and savvy. Check with your airline carrier prior to packing for updates on carryon items. Do not, I repeat, do not put any valuables in your checked luggage. Pack as if King Kong will be tossing your luggage off the Empire State Building and then kicking it all the way to your destination.

Get it when you get there. If there are any items you’ve forgotten, you most likely can purchase them when you get there or maybe do without for the week.

Vacation Packages – Tips on Getting the Best All-Inclusive Deals

The best solution to your budget constraints when it comes to going on a vacation is getting special deals like all-inclusive packages. All-inclusive may mean differently based on the kind of destination or lodging you choose. Some resorts may pertain to the rent, transportation, food and drinks. Cruises might include on-ship entertainment, and other necessities. Hotels may also interpret all-inclusive in a different way. They might include the rent, tours and meals but won’t include the transportation in going there. Before booking or making any reservations, you should always check out the necessary details of your prospective packages.

Here are tips on how to get the best deals:

1. Checking out last-minute offers. There are many websites that concentrate exclusively in this kind of package. Search online, you can type in ‘last-minute vacations,’ on the search engine and press enter. Then you will see a large list of sites where you can find such holiday trips. Always remember that reserving on the last-minute for cruises are not applicable. Generally, cruise vacations are reserved two weeks before the said departure. As for hotels and resorts, they can let you book on the day of your departure.

2. Various websites offer all-inclusive vacation packages. Look for tempting offers like 2 plus 1 deal, stay for 2 nights and get one night free. Another appealing offer that you might find is getting free spa treatments or unlimited beverage.

3. Getting a break during the off-season is also much affordable. Air companies and hotels have less number of customers after summer (July to November). You will definitely get very interesting all-inclusive rates at low-cost prices. However, travelling on July and November can only mean more rain is coming. It might be affordable but you also have to be patient with the weather. You might not enjoy it as much as you could have when its summer.

4. Always make sure you get to book a package deal. There are various travel sites online that allows you to book them altogether from renting a car, tickets and lodging like Hawaii hotels you will receive much bigger discounts than booking them separately.

5. Join reward programs. Lots of resorts offer perks for regular guests, like reduced rates for numerous stay and some even offer free nights. There are also some hotels which give out free dining packages, which can be redeemed per travel points. You might as well check out your favorite hotel and see if they have loyalty programs available and what they offer.

Disneyland Vacations – 4 Steps To Booking Your Trip

Some people say “80% of your vacation is the anticipation!” Let’s get started with tese tips on booking a trip to the ‘House of the Mouse?’. If you have a particular interest in Disneyland Vacations, then this informative article will help, even before you strap on your mouse ears…

Disneyland park at Anaheim, CA in the USA is in fact one of the best theme parks in the world and booking a trip to Disneyland can itself get you into a good mood. However, like any vacation, you need to make sure that you’ve got your Trip to Disneyland planned out. Good planning will not only add to your enjoyment but will also help you in saving some money.

Here are some tips that will help you plan your Disneyland trip:

Before you book: You must make sure that Disneyland is open on all the days that you plan to visit Disneyland on. Though Disneyland is usually open on all days throughout the year, there might be times when it is closed e.g. Did you know that Disneyland was closed for one day in 2005 in preparation for their 50th anniversary celebrations?

Timing is everything: If you plan a trip to Disneyland during off-peak days, you not only get great deals on travel and accommodations, but also on the entry tickets for parks. Moreover, the rush in Disneyland is a lot less on off-peak days so you might be able to reduce the wait time for the attractions. However, some attractions and events might not be open during off-peak times. Also, the opening hours might be limited during off peak period of the year. So, check the calendar at Disneyland website and decide on the dates you want to visit Disneyland on.

Book in advance: The general rule of booking travel / vacation applies to Disneyland too. Booking your hotel and flight in advance is especially important if you are planning to travel to Disneyland from a far off location. It can really save you a lot of money.

Booking a complete package all at once: The website of Disneyland offers many ways of booking vacation packages in one shot. You can book ‘hotel + Air + tickets’ or just ‘hotel + tickets’ or just the hotel through their website http://disneyland.disney.go.com This can save a lot amount of time and hassle. However, if you want, you can book your trip through a variety of travel agents too.

There’s a lot to understand about Disneyland in California. In knowing the facts above, your trip to Disneyland will be a much more enjoyable experience, but there is still plenty more you’ll learn about in subsequent articles.

The Holiday Rep Presentation

The majority of tour operators will ask you to prepare a 2-3 minute presentation for you to deliver to the rest of the group at some point during the assessment day. If you have not been asked to prepare a presentation then do not panic. This may form part of your assessment day where you are actually given time on the day to put together a presentation.

The presentation is another opportunity for you to show the recruitment staff that you possess the qualities they are looking for. You need to show that you are confident standing up in front of a group of people and that you can communicate in an effective manner. This will be vital for your role as a holiday rep when holding welcome meetings and selling excursions.

As a result of this you must ensure that allow yourself enough time before the assessment day to prepare and practice your presentation. By putting time and effort into developing your presentation you will demonstrate to the recruitment staff your imagination and commitment to becoming a holiday rep.

Your presentation provides an important opportunity for you to tell your audience about your chosen topic. The tips outlined below are intended to help you in planning your presentation.

The key to a good presentation is preparation. Try to get a relative or a friend to listen to your presentation and ask them to provide feedback. Try to practice the presentation more than once. The more times your practice the more confident you will become about delivering it on the day.

I know that this maybe difficult as some tour operators do not ask you to prepare a presentation and tell you that time will be given on the day to prepare. Try not to read straight from your notes. Although you may be nervous, this has a negative effect as it shows you are not confident and this is one of the attributes the recruitment team are looking for. There is no problem if you glance at your notes for reference and if you make an error just simply correct it and carry on with your presentation.

Finding Money For Class Trips – Tips For Fundraising From an Educational Travel Professional

Just because budgets are tight in business, government, and school districts it is no reason to cancel a class trip. Instead of cutting trips out altogether, many school groups are enacting creative ways to raise funds so that students can still take educational trips to places like Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, and Chicago. A student trip is a fun and educational way to learn about history, art, culture, science, and more.

The nice thing about fundraising for student trips is that contributors need only make $5, $10, or $20 contributions to make a difference. The best fundraising occurs when the whole community gets involved.

Fundraising efforts can include several different methods executed throughout the school year. There are some tried and true methods of raising funds for class trips and there are some new ideas making their way into the mainstream that have proven to be effective as well.

I will offer a brief overview of effective fundraising techniques for student trips that students, teachers and parents have shared with me over the years.

– Chocolate Candy Bars: Seeing a child or parent with a box of candy bars is a sign that a fundraiser of some sort is taking place. In the workplace, or even at school, people are willing to satisfy that sweet tooth or chocolate craving in order to help school children by purchasing candy to fund a class trip. Buying a candy bar is easy and relatively inexpensive. The person purchasing the candy feels better about buying the candy from someone they know — instead of heading to the vending machine or leaving the office to visit a store. There are many vendors available who will sell candy in bulk at wholesale prices so students can sell them for retail value and reap the profits for their class trip.

– Citrus Fruit Sales: Another way to make money for class trips is to sell oranges and grapefruits. The idea is to purchase the citrus fruits in bulk during the harvest season in areas where fruit crops are abundant. Students take orders from family, friends, and neighbors and collect the money. When the time arrives, boxes of fresh fruits are delivered to the purchaser, along with a thank you from the school group.

– Selling Roses and Carnations on Valentine’s Day: Student group leaders and administrators simply locate a flower wholesaler in their town and arrange to purchase roses and/or carnations in bulk for a decent price. Then individual students either take orders ahead of time and distribute the flowers on the holiday or volunteers set up a table at a school, dance, or other public event and sell them on Valentine’s Day.

– FREE Car Wash: The car wash-a-thon can be a labor intensive but fun day for school children that want to raise money for their trip. Just identify and reserve a public location with easy access to water spigots such as a church or bank parking lot on a main thoroughfare. Have students advertise with signs visible to drivers. The charge is often $5-8 for each car wash. Some groups even offer FREE car washes and make more money. Offer a FREE car wash and then ask for donations. Often the donations will exceed the $5-8 mark and make the fundraiser more profitable. Try this fundraiser as a FREE car wash with voluntary donations and see what happens.

– Sell Scratch Off Cards: This new popular way to raise money for student trips is a great idea. Student trip organizers purchase scratch off cards similar to lottery cards but much different. The school name and logo can even be placed on a lot of cards for an extra charge as a way of identifying the fundraiser. The purchaser is not gambling, they are merely donating money towards the class trip. The student gives the card to a donor, and he or she scratches one, two, or three of the hidden numbers and donates the amount indicated on the card to the fundraising campaign. Scratch off cards are worth up to $100 per card and are quite profitable. The recipient of the card receives discounted coupons for area businesses as a thank you for participation in the fundraising campaign.

– CD or DVD Fundraisers: This type of fundraiser can occur one of two different ways. The first is to partner with a CD or DVD catalogue company that offers A-list Hollywood movies and/or music CDs with the work of popular artists. Students sell these titles and are given a portion of the profits for each sale. The second way is to actually record a high school band, ensemble or orchestra on CD and sell this product to the community. Other choices include recording school group events or recitals, homecoming or prom videos, or the actual school trip as a way to retain memories of the event and selling these professionally produced audios or videos at a profitable rate.

With so many excellent fundraising strategies available, there is no reason to cut back on class trips. Just make sure to start fundraising efforts early in the school year. For maximum funds, try two or three different methods throughout the school year. Your group will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome! Community members love to help school children on their way to an educational trip. School children will be most enthusiastic about the fundraiser when it works. Whether the class is headed to Orlando, Florida or Washington D.C. the school group will be even more solidified if the children work together to raise funds beforehand.

5 Holiday Weight Loss Tips & Their Reality Checks

Do you find it almost impossible to stay conscious and contentious about weight and nutrition during the holidays? Of course you do. More than half of all Americans are overweight: You’re not alone.

A new government study might give you a ray of hope though: The study shows that Americans gain only about one pound over the holidays. The study found that people participating were influenced by two main factors over the holidays: The level of their hunger, and the level of their activity. In other words: Those who reported being less active or more hungry during the holidays had the greatest weight gain.

So common sense says: If you can stay focused on dealing with just those two things, you’ll probably win your personal holiday weight loss battle. At the very least, you’ll win by not adding more weight to what’s already waiting to be shed.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of weight gain,” says Dr. Samuel Klein, the Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. “Preventing the increase in weight is a lot easier and better than actually gaining weight and then trying to get it off again.”

So the answer seems simple: Eat less and exercise more. The reality of implementation of course, is far more difficult.

The good news is that most of the people overestimate how much weight they’d gained over the holidays. Fewer than 10% gain 5 pounds or more.

The bad news is: The small amount of weight gained is never lost. One pound of weight gain is quite a small amount, but since it’s not usually lost again: The weight adds up over time – to obesity.

Now we all know there are tons of tips out and about this time of year, designed to help us keep from putting on that extra pound or two during the holidays. Unfortunately what’s usually not talked about is: The reality of day-to-day holiday stress and situations. Let’s explore the tips… along with their reality checks… in depth:

Weight Loss Tip 1: Stay active. The best thing you can do is try to stick to your normal schedule and routine.

Holiday Reality Check: It’s pretty hard to have any kind of decent routine in the busy months of November and December. Busy people tend to sacrifice yoga classes, long walks, and visits to the gym because they need time for extra things like decorating the house, cooking, cleaning up before the visitors get there, and of course: Shopping.

The Good News: Walking around the shopping mall and stores is great exercise, and so is cleaning the house. In addition to those activities, decorating can be quite intensive too: You’re climbing up and down to hang things; lifting, lugging, and dragging boxes out of storage; bending, twisting and turning to get it all looking just right. So don’t beat yourself up about not making it to the gym… you’re getting plenty of activity and every little bit helps!

Weight Loss Tip 2: Don’t let yourself get too hungry. If you go to a party and you’re starving, everything will look even more scrumptious than normal. And of course, you’ll eat much more because of it. Try starting each day with a good, solid breakfast – particularly something with protein. And when you’re at the party, try munching on the veggies to help keep you feeling full. These two things will help your hunger stay under control, and will in turn help you refrain from “gorging” on anything you see just because you’re famished.

Holiday Reality Check: We’re all very busy during the holidays, and it’s not always possible to remember to eat – let alone eat well – particularly in the morning when we may have already overslept and are now running late for everything. And eating healthy at a party isn’t always possible either: Not everyone in this country serves vegetable plates, salads, or fruit bowls. Sometimes the only things in site are junk: Chips, candy, and cookies.

Here’s a suggestion: Try taking your own veggie plate to a party where you know there won’t be one available. A quick and easy way to do this is simply buy a bag or two of pre-cut veggies and some ranch salad dressing. Alternatively, eat a decent meal before you go to the party. Don’t overdo things, but don’t make it a light snack either. Eating first will help you to just “nibble” a bit on the worst of the holiday treats offered.

Weight Loss Tip 3: Stay away from the food. Literally. Just don’t go anywhere near the buffet table, appetizers, or treats… and you’ll be fine.

Holiday Reality Check: In most cases, the food is everywhere. And even if it’s not right in front of your face, you sure can smell it! Trying to just “stay away from it” is pretty unrealistic – and it can feel like torture for some of us. And for most people: When you can’t have something, you want it even more. So trying to stay away from the food will most likely just make you overindulge worse than you would have otherwise.

Try this instead: Allow yourself whatever you’d like. But with a catch. First: Take only half the amount you normally would. And take just one food item. Eat that and enjoy it without guilt. Then, wait a full 20-30 minutes before you get something else. Then repeat the process: One item, half the portion size as you normally would, enjoy it without guilt, then wait before getting something else.

Allowing yourself to eat gets rid of the mentality of “I can’t have it (and thus I’m more determined to have it)” It lets you enjoy the good food and the holidays, without beating yourself up. This is healthy and can help tremendously with the way you view food and eating in general. Only taking half of it though, will help you not take in as much calories, fat, sugar or other bad stuff you usually avoid. And then waiting 20-30 minutes before you get something else will help your body realize when it’s had enough… or too much. So you’re much less likely to overdo things, and feel horrible physically later.

Weight Loss Tip 4: Wear cloths that are slightly tight on you. This should help you feel full faster, and keep you from eating too much food.

Holiday Reality Check: We want to wear looser cloths because we’re looking forward to eating all that great food! Yes, wearing something tight might help us not go back for a second helping of potatoes… or it might ruin a favorite outfit.

In the end, how you approach this tip is up to you, and you alone. Make your decision and be happy with it.

Weight Loss Tip 5: Keep your portions small. Try to load up on salad and vegetables, and take just tiny amounts of anything else.

Holiday Reality Check: Taking just a “bite sized” amount of anything is going to put you into the have-not mental state mentioned earlier. You’ll feel as if you can’t have something, and you’ll want it all the more.

Try the tip noted above instead: Take half the size you normally would. Trying to have just a little bite of pie will whet your appetite for more, but having a whole piece is going a bit overboard – particularly if there’s 5 different pies for you to sample. So try actual sampling instead: Cut a piece half the normal size. This allows you to have a “whole slice”, and more than several little bites. Then wait about 20 minutes before you go and try the next pie. Even if you end up eating a bit of all 5 pies, by having a half-sized slice of each, you’ve drastically cut the amount of calories, carbs and sugars compared to what you would have had with whole slices. And you’ll still feel stuffed and satiated, instead of deprived and resentful.

So there you have it: 5 different, common holiday weight loss and eating tips, followed by the reality check of each, and a suggested compromise that should help you enjoy the holidays to their fullest, without depriving yourself of the great food we all look forward to.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to actually have Happy Holidays!

6 Tips For Spending Wisely This Holiday Season

When holiday music is piped into malls and festive themes accompany some hard-to-miss sales, it’s no wonder people are compelled to overspend during the holidays. Here are six helpful tips to keep help keep your holiday spending in check this season.

1. Start with a list. Even Santa knows it’s wise to make a list (and check it twice!) in preparation for the gift-giving season. Make a list with everyone you plan to buy for. Be sure to include family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and anyone else in your life you would like to remember with a gift. Next, set a budget to guide your purchases. If the math doesn’t add up-you have too many gifts to buy and not enough money to go around-pare down your list or reduce the amount you can spend on each person.

2. Comparison shop. Your holiday dollars will go further if you do your homework before pulling out your wallet. Online price comparison engines can help you identify where to find the best deals. Shopping online can be a real time-saver, too, but be mindful of shipping charges. You’ll also want to watch for upcoming holiday sales and plan your shopping excursions accordingly. Black Friday is not the only time you can find deals during the season.

3. Avoid overspending on a credit card. Naturally, credit cards offer the convenience of buying now and paying later. The “pay later” scenario only works in your favor if you’re able to zero out your balance before the next billing cycle. If you don’t pay down your charges for months on end, interest accrues and suddenly that $30 gift has snowballed into an unwieldy sum. If you need to rely on credit to spread the cost of holiday purchases over a few months, factor in estimated interest charges when you make your budget. Or better yet, avoid the credit trap altogether by spending within your means.

4. Keep your savings on track. Saving should be a regular part of your monthly budget. If you’ve worked with a financial advisor before, stick to your savings plan instead of putting your financial future on hold. If you haven’t worked with a financial professional before and don’t yet have a plan for growing your nest egg, give yourself the gift of financial advice this year. A qualified financial advisor can identify strategies to help you achieve your financial goals.

5. Give sentimental gifts that don’t cost much. When you’re in stores, it’s easy to get distracted and start to ignore your budget. Don’t buy into the notion that the price tag of a gift indicates its ultimate value. The best gifts are not necessarily the most expensive. In many cases, a thoughtful, sentimental gift can mean as much or more than an expensive object.

6. Remember to put people first. In our consumer-centric society, it’s easy to get carried away with material things. It’s important to stay focused on what truly matters about the season-spending time with the people who mean the most to you. It doesn’t cost anything to take some time away from the hustle and bustle and savor the special moments that come with the holidays.