If the expectations of gift-giving have become too much for your budget, consider reducing your Christmas shopping list this year. It’s possible to do this in a way that’s both considerate and effective.
And who knows? You might just be providing relief to others who are in the same situation but unsure what to do. That’s a gift in itself.
Talk It Out
With close friends and family, be upfront about your financial concerns. Some folks may enthusiastically jump on board. If not, be willing to negotiate a happy medium.
There are lots of possibilities:
- Perhaps you can exchange homemade items or set a dollar limit everyone can afford
- Re-gift unloved items to new homes that will appreciate them
- Give time instead of objects. Offer to babysit, dog walk or go shopping
- Draw names so each participant is only responsible for one gift
- Pool resources for a group activity that everyone shares
- Maybe a group will give presents just to the kids
If everyone is like-minded, you might just do away with gift-giving all together.
Think It Through
Make a list of everyone you think you’re expected to give gifts to this Christmas season. Then consider each name carefully.
Sometimes holiday gifting becomes rote. Are there people on the list you’ve lost touch with during the rest of the year?
It’s sad but true: Relationships change. If people are no longer front and center in your life, why are you buying them presents?
In these cases, a gift is no longer part of the friendship. It’s become an obligation. Where’s the holiday spirit in that?
Give Teachers a Break
Teachers should be recognized for their hard work, but how many of them really need another mug, candle or apple-shaped decoration? If you’re trying to cut back on expenses, you can do that while simultaneously offering teachers a metaphoric pat on the back.
Instead of presents, give teachers notes of appreciation. Be specific about how instructors have impacted your childrens lives. Knowing their efforts are paying off makes teachers smile during the Christmastime or at any time throughout the year.
Start a Revolution at Work
If you’re looking to trim your Christmas shopping list, it’s a good bet many of your co-workers are in the same boat. If your workplace has always done gift exchanges, be brave and suggest stamping that out this year.
There could well be a collective sigh of relief. If you really feel the need to spread workplace cheer, bring in a cookie tray or give cards with handwritten thoughtful notes.
If you can’t justify buying certain folks presents but still want to recognize them during the season, handmade holiday cards are welcomed surprises. Getting kids involved in this activity reinforces giving rather getting.
If you’re not feeling crafty, e-cardsare a free way to send greetings. No postage required. Or consider a phone call. In these days of texting and email, real live one-on-one communication sometimes becomes a novelty. What better time to make the effort?
Make a Donation
Donating to charity in another family’s name is one way of covering several Christmas gifts at once. But do this carefully. Make sure the charity is something the receiver really supports. For instance, perhaps you know your aunt and uncle are signed up to be organ donors and you donate to organ donation awareness in their name.
You could give them a card highlighting an important statistic about the chosen charity, such as an organ donor can save eight lives by donating. Many charities then will send you a reminder the next year about donating, too, so if the recipients like the donation, you can remember to do it again for years to come.
Donations won’t work for everyone; so you run the risk of your recipient being really disappointed. Also, when you make a donation for someone else, that person may get on the charity’s mailing list as well. Further solicitations could be annoying or even burdensome.
Chop the Food Budget
Christmas presents aren’t the only shopping costs that add up and up and up. Holiday menus can get out of hand, especially if you entertain.So re-think your shopping list.
Many holiday food items are on sale in the weeks preceding the holidays, so stock up. Manufacturers also tend to offer coupons for both treats and staples.
If you have time, or make the time, prepare foods rather than buy them. For instance, homemade cookies are far cheaper than ones available at a bakery. You can make a lot more for a lot less. Many recipes for Christmas yummies, such as cakes, cookies, pies and candies, use a lot of the same ingredients. You won’t have to buy a lot of specialty items.
If you traditionally host a party, try asking your guests to a potluck instead. While you’ll save time and money, everyone will find the variety of foods different and exciting.
Give It a Try
Don’t spend another year grumbling about commercialism and worrying about holiday credit card bills. Try cutting back on your shopping list this year. If you’re not comfortable with sweeping reform, just try one or two changes.
As cliche as it seems, it’s true: The Christmas spirit isn’t about things. It’s about sharing, togetherness, family, friends and peace. And you won’t find all that good stuff in any store.
Photo Credit: kevin dooley