Ah, the holidays—a time for family and friends, parties and dancing, gift giving and receiving and unfortunately, increased debt. Your holiday traditions should not put you at risk for bankruptcy each year. Here, you will learn a few ways to reduce your spending and manage your holiday debt responsibly to pay it off before next Christmas rolls around.

Consider the Gifts

There is no reason to go out and buy extravagant gifts for all of your loved ones. Every kid has a wish list and it may be your goal to try to buy everything on the lists, but it may not be financially possible to do so. Rather than getting into debt up to your neck, have your kids create a short list of their top five gifts on their lists. This way, you know what to focus on to make their Christmas dreams come true.

Friends and family outside of your home do not need fancy gifts to know that you are thinking about them during the holidays. Instead of blowing your gift budget buying fancy gadgets and jewelry for the extended family and friends, think about making cookies and putting them in beautifully decorated tins or finding a nice picture that you have taken of their families and frame the pictures.

Christmas is not about spending a fortune on each person you love. It is about spending time with those people and sharing in laughter and showing that you care.

Use Credit Wisely

If at all possible, avoid using your credit cards. If you cannot afford to pay cash for it, you probably shouldn't be buying it. Unfortunately, for many families, the Christmas tree would not have many gifts under it if it was not for the plastic in your wallet. When pulling out the credit card to pay for an armful of gifts, remember to multiply the total spent by at least two because that is what you will be paying for it if you put it on a credit card.

Talk with Creditors

Talk with your credit card companies to discuss the possibility of lowering the interest rates on your accounts. You may find that if you have made all of your payments on time that the companies will slightly lower the interest rate. If not, then consider transferring the balance of that credit card to a card with lower interest rates. Just be aware of the transfer fees before doing so.

Enjoy Christmas, but do not put yourself at risk for bankruptcy. You can go to sites like this one to contact debt counseling professionals to learn more ways to manage your Christmas debt and get it paid off before next Christmas.