Debt-proofing your holidays

Lots of us look at December as not a time of cheer and goodwill toward men, but as a season of dread and resignation. The reason: Just when we're getting a handle on our personal finances, the holidays come along and busts the budget into a million jagged pieces.

Holiday dinners. Decorations. Travel. The notion that you have to buy gifts for everyone, including the postman and your kids' teachers. It all adds up to a sickening sucking sound from you wallet, come your January bank balance and credit card statement.

But with a little forethought, you can manage to escape the holiday season reasonably unscathed. How? Here are a few tips to consider.