Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Give Love Instead of Stuff This Year

    With Christmas being eight weeks from today, the question of whether Christmas on a budget is really possible begins to consume my thoughts.  I've had excessive spending years, I've had lean gift giving years, and I really can't remember one Christmas being better than the other.  I know at the time I probably thought more gifts would equal a richer holiday experience, but in my memory I can't recall what year was what.  That realization and the frightful economy has helped me move to a "less is more" approach this year.

Give homemade!

    This year we've told the grown kids and family that we would not be giving or receiving gifts.  That doesn't mean we aren't celebrating the holiday, we're just doing it a little differently this year.  We'll still decorate the house, drive through town enjoying the lights, and watch our favorite Christmas movies.  We'll still indulge in all the wonderful food of the season and listen to Christmas music till the youngest ones in the family know the songs by heart.  The only thing we're not doing is buying gifts.  This year our focus is on spending quality time with our loved ones and enjoying the most stress free Christmas we can imagine.

    Most people I know enjoy shopping for a day or two, but after that they dread standing in lines, fighting traffic, and circling the parking lot.  Then there are those who would usually be on our gift list who already have everything, and what they don't have are things you could never afford.  To make shopping easier, many of us have moved toward online shopping or buying gift cards to help ease this burden.  Notice the word I used there?  Did it catch your eye?  I said BURDEN!  Is that what the holiday should involve?  We think not!

Simple doesn't mean "less"!

Here are a few things to consider before you start to run and buy things from the store:
  • Do you buy or exchange gifts just because that is what your family has always done or because it's standard for our culture?  If so, is that really a good reason?
  •  Do you worry about the quality of the gift or do you get something just to get something?
  • Is it any way a burden on your budget?
  • Do you use credit cards to purchase gifts then carry a balance after Christmas?
  •  Can you even remember all the things you bought for everyone you bought for last year?  What about the year before that?  Do they even still have whatever it is you bought?
  • Have you ever re-gifted an item?  If so then the person who bought that gift wasted their money, and the same goes for you when the person you buy a gift for re-gifts it.
  •  Is all this really what holiday time is about ?

    Every family has different expectations, resources, and traditions.  You certainly don't need to adopt our model if yours is working fine and you're happy with everything exactly as it is.  We just suggest you take a moment and evaluate what really matters the most to you about the holidays and tweak your plans until it brings the most happiness to the most important people in the least burdensome way possible.  Do that and you'll be sure to have a Merry Christmas! 

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