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Emily Starbuck Crone

Emily's list: Merry Christmas edition

While I was raised Jewish, only my dad's side of the family celebrates Hanukkah. My mom's family is Christian, so we have always had a Christmas experience in our home, too. We do morning gift-opening, then a fun evening with my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandmother. I know some people feel strongly about "keeping the Christ in Christmas." I can understand their point; I even went to candlelight Christmas Eve services at church with my family when I was young. That side of the family wants us to feel included and a part of their traditions despite our Jewish upbringing, and they kindly treat us as one of their own.

While I know that our secular version of Christmas can be offensive to some, I love this rare opportunity to come together and have a blast with my family. We eat delicious, home-cooked food. We treat my grandmother to thoughtful gifts. The rest of us now do small joke presents and white elephant gift exchanges. Not only does it greatly reduce the cost of gift buying for everyone, it makes the evening full of humor and laughs.

I truly respect those who don't believe in our version of Christmas. But this treasured time with my loved ones is why I plan to have a Merry Christmas. I hope you do too, if it is a holiday you celebrate!

For excellent personal finance tips and tricks, read my roundup of my favorite blog posts from the past week.

1. One Money Design lists some of the things you need to figure out in order to create financial goals and determine your priorities.

2. One of my best friends always wears the cutest clothes, and I'm always shocked to find out that she gets most of them at thrift stores. Generation X Finance reveals tips on how to become an expert thrift store shopper.

Money $mart Guides discusses the benefits of combining finances when you get married.

4. Narrow Bridge Finance shares four small behaviors you can change to save large amounts of money over time.

5. Money Under 30 advises readers on how to keep in control of holiday shopping and take steps to avoid blowing your budget (again).

6. Evolving Personal Finance discusses how she and her husband are cutting back on holiday spending this year. Her advice for gifting on a budget is excellent for the holidays, but is still relevant for the rest of the year!

7. 20s Finances lists several ways you can have fun with friends or family on a low budget, most of which are free.

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