How is Christmas going for you this year?
With Christmas being just two weeks away, are you feeling overwhelmed or joyous? Wondering when that Christmas "miracle" is coming so you can afford to get some gifts? Wondering how you can buy gifts when the bills are piling up? Wondering how you can get presents for everyone?
This time of year is difficult for most people, but those struggling to make ends meet already feel the pressure even more. The temptation to put the gifts on a credit card or not pay other bills to buy gifts is very, very great. The pressure to get gifts for everyone and make everyone happy is overwhelming.
How can anyone feel joyous when they don't how to make it all work?
I have been there. I am still there for the most part. Even with my frugal lifestyle, Christmas creates panic in my heart and sanity. Every year, I tell myself it will be different. With small changes every year, it has become a little different. I would like to share what I have done and what you can do to make Christmas easier for you.
These ideas are intended for the 1-2 weeks before Christmas. There is plenty you can do for next year's Christmas and I hope to address that in future articles. For right now, this is ideas for the present!
1. Do not feel the need to buy gifts for everyone. I know it is nice to show your appreciation to your kids' teachers, your clergy, your neighbors, your Sunday School teachers, friends, etc. I believe in showing appreciation whenever possible. However, you do not need to buy them a gift!
A card and/or a plate of goodies would be more than enough. Is there something you specialize in or make very well like caramels or brownies? Make that your signature thing to give to them for the holidays! Find a gift you can give with what you have on hand. If you have kids, let the kids draw a picture or write a note of appreciation for the intended recipients. Or let these gifts go this year. Most people will understand or not even notice. Just don't feel pressured to run out and buy gifts.
2. Do not feel pressured to make your kids' Christmas a huge blow out affair. Too many gifts are overwhelming and most of the presents will not be played with anyway. Just give your kids 3-4 things that are well-thought out and meaningful. Put useful things as well as some fun things in their stockings. Christmas can be a lot of fun even when you are not spending the big bucks!
3. Make Christmas about the memories and not the money spent. The time spent together as family and friends will be more treasured in the future than what you bought for people. Do you have a favorite family Christmas movie? Make some popcorn or have some Christmas goodies and make some hot chocolate or cider. Watch the movie together. Take the scenic route home from a game or get-together to look at the Christmas lights together. Take a moonlight walk around town. Participate in your local community Christmas activities. Decorate cookies together. Find free things to do as a family and with friends.
4. Create alternatives to presents. My brother, sister-in-law, and I have done this at different times. We would go out to dinner together and maybe go bowling or another activity instead of giving gifts. This year, instead of giving each other kids presents, we are going to have a fun day swimming and hanging out instead together. The kids will have a blast and money is not being spent on stuff that is not played with or outgrown quickly. The bonus is that we can do this after the holidays when the money crunch is lessened.
5. Do not exchange gifts with your spouse or significant other. I know this one is hard, but sometimes a sacrifice needs to be made to make Christmas easier on the wallet. Besides that, do you really need to get them something for Christmas? Not that they don't deserve it, but giving gifts when you could be making memories in other ways may be more meaningful. Have a special Christmas dinner together and make a dish the both of you love (and your kids don't!). Watch a movie or spend some special time together in peace and quiet. Write a letter to each other. Create a memory together without spending the money.
6. When someone says "you don't need to give me anything", take them at their word. More than likely, they mean it! More than likely, they want you to just to come over and spend time with them! My parents love it when we are all there together. It may be crazy with the kids running everywhere, but they like to have family around. Most people just want your time instead of a gift. Make that time for them.
Hope your Christmas is merry, frugal, fun, and meaningful!
Thanks for reading,
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