Getting through the holidays on a shoestring budget doesn’t have to be stressful. Easier said than done, and I am probably being a total hypocrite, but I would really like to be able to make it through the month without any ulcers or 

anxiety attacks. The holidays are supposed to be a time to show loved ones how much we appreciate them. It’s supposed to be a time to celebrate the birth of a baby named Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the holidays! I love the smells of cinnamon and pine. I love hot apple cider, Christmas lights, Santa, awesome sales and of course, presents! What I don’t love is the thought of digging myself into a hole of debt because society says Christmas is synonymous with gift giving.

I admit it, I love to shop. But I’m a little bitter about it, too. December rolls around and my stress level skyrockets! I toss and turn, lose sleep – can’t decide whether to get Kate that fabulous DKNY bag I saw at the mall or put gas in my car.

Here are some holiday shopping tips to help make the next month more fun and less stressful.

* Shop early and find the bargains. There are lots of sales. It also spreads the costs out, so it doesn’t hurt as much.

* Network with friends in retail. Most employees get 30-50 percent off. Find out which friends work at your favorite spots. 

* has great prices on just about everything, including name brands. They usually ship in 5-10 business days.

* Consignment shops are hot! My favorite one is The Ultimate You in Ward Center. They have great prices for designer bags, jewelry and clothes. Also, what you get there won’t be on every sale rack the day after Christmas.

* Make something. A homemade card or painted picture frame is not only cheaper, but also more likely to last years and be remembered more than the matching cardigan sweater set.

* Donate to charity. It’s the perfect gift for someone who has everything. Aloha United Way, The Breast Cancer Fund, Big Brothers / Big Sisters; pick a charity that supports your values.

* Make a list of the people you are going to swap gifts with and stick to that list. For everyone else – make cookies or candies.

* Organize a potluck and tell everyone “no gifts” – just celebrate friendships. Write out what the holidays mean to you and find ways to express that meaning. 

OK, I’ll just take a deep sigh, hide the credit cards for the month and remember that this season is all about celebrating life, showing appreciation and having a generous heart.

Malisa Uchida is a graduate of Boston University. She now reports news and traffic on the “Lanai & Augie Morning Show” (Island 98.5 FM), as well as producing “The Mike Buck Show” (KHVH 830 AM). She can be reached at