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The Holiday Sprint!

How to handle the last minute frenzy of the holidays!

Nashville, Ark. – Christmas is just days away! Have you finished your holiday shopping? If not, you are probably going into what I like to call, “The Holiday Sprint!” You may be feeling extra stress, which can lead to a strain on your financial budget. To prevent overspending and impulse buying, take time to make a brief list of the gifts, decorations, and items, including food, you still need to purchase. Estimate the amount you have available to spend for holiday expenses and set a spending limit before heading to the stores or online.

Additional Expenses

If you are expecting guests for the holidays, keep in mind there will likely be additional expenses. Utility bills increase with more people and there will be extra trips to the stores to restock food, drinks, and toiletries.

Consider splitting last-minute responsibilities with family and friends. If your budget is tight, you can suggest they bring a side dish, dessert, or party food. Make a list ahead to know who is bringing what to ensure you will have a balance of dishes. Guests who prefer not to bring a food dish could help by supplying paper products or beverages. Sharing responsibilities will help you enjoy the holidays more and stress less.

If you are expecting family for several days, think about the meals that will be served. Simple meals that feature favorite foods that most people eat are the best. Rather than having a three to four course meal, consider making one dessert that will last for a few days. Cookies and candy are great holiday sweets that can be served for several days. Again, rely on others to pitch in and help. Cherished memories can be made in the kitchen!

Avoid Using Credit Cards

Try to avoid using credit cards during the holidays. Interest rates increased again this week, which means, carrying a balance from month to month on credit cards will cost you more. If you cannot afford to buy it now, do not create a bill for yourself later. Once the holidays are over, you will face debt with interest if you use credit cards that you cannot afford to pay off before the due date.

Consider creating joyful holiday memories without breaking the bank. Focus on the spirit of the season instead of gifts. Think outside the gift box. Some ideas:

  • Limit gift giving
  • Share your time and talents
  • Build traditions
  • Plan beyond the holiday

The truth is that gifts are not the most important part of holiday memories. Chances are your happiest holiday memories have nothing to do with the gifts you received. Thinking outside the gift box will contribute to a happier and financially healthier holiday season!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service. Our office will be closed December 23-January 2. We look forward to helping you with your financial, nutrition, health and wellness, food safety, and family life questions in 2023!

                                                                               Recipe of the Week

Making sugar cookies with my children for Santa is one of my favorite memories. I look forward to making new memories with my grandchildren this year! Since my grandchildren are young, I will use color-tinted sugar to decorate. However, you could decorate them with your favorite frosting and sprinkles. This tasty sugar cookie recipe was shared at the Crocktober EHC event. Be warned, they will melt in your mouth!

                                                                          Old Fashioned Sugar Cookie

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 cup oil

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 4 ½ cups flour

  • 1 tsp. soda

  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar

  1. Cream together butter and sugars.

  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and oil, mixing well.

  3. Sift together flour, salt, soda, and cream of tartar and slowly stir into first mixture.

  4. Refrigerate overnight (it is not necessary to keep in refrigerator overnight in cool weather just an hour or two will be enough).

  5. Pinch off small pieces and roll into balls.

  6. Flatten with bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar.

  7. Cook at 350 degrees for 11 minutes.


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.