In December, many people are feeling generous, wanting to impress, or thinking that they’d really like to surprise that special someone(s). All it takes is a blink of an eye, a swipe of a card, and our finances are over-extended. Been there, done that. It was not fun!
Do you have children? If so, you have likely received requests for what seems like every toy under the sun.
Do you want to know a secret? Giving anyone all they have asked for will not make them happy for more than a few minutes, an hour, or maybe a few days. Things can bring temporary pleasure, but they do not make a person happy.
The best way to handle Christmas shopping is spread it over the year. This can be done a number of ways: make items to gift, set up a holiday fund at your bank or credit union, or buy gifts throughout the year and remember in December that you already have them.
Are you thinking, “It’s not happening this year!”? Well, consider the following: Do you have the time and talent to make a gift? Have you ever thought about a gift of service or a gift of time? These can mean more than something purchased at a store.
Gifting is not always about money. It is about showing someone you care. Make a special card and insert a coupon for a gift of time or service. Does your Christmas list include frazzled parents? Gift them an hour or two of free babysitting. Does your
Christmas list include an elderly person who lives alone? Give them a gift of time. Make a coupon to take them somewhere special, out for coffee, tea,meal. You can do the same for any friend or relative that appreciates your company. Just remember to set a date and follow through on service and time commitments.
Talk to your friends and family about an Alternative Christmas. Skip buying gifts, and do something free or inexpensive instead. Exchange white elephant gifts. Exchange services. Go Christmas caroling together. Read the Christmas story or “The Gift of the Magi” together. Plan a no cost, interactive, fun night. Here are just a few possibilities:
- a pot luck dinner where all guests create a dish to share using ingredients they already have
- play board games or charades (really)
- assemble at someone’s house or apartment and sing Christmas songs
- put on an impromptu Christmas play
- Share what currently makes you grateful, and share your hopes for the New Year
Do something for others. Volunteer at a local nonprofit or soup kitchen. Visit a nursing home and sing carols for the residents. Read a short story for someone who doesn’t receive visitors, or just sit and visit with them. Please keep in mind that you need to contact the organization or manager for permission first. Any number of options exists.
Are you still planning on buying gifts? If so, carefully review your budget. Determine how much you can spend for gifts and DO NOT exceed that amount, however tempting that may be.
Then sit back and enjoy the gift you gave yourself- less financial hardship, and less stress over the holidays and into the New Year. Peace, harmony, joy and love cannot be purchased. They can only be shared.
Enjoy the gifts of the season!
Do you have a favorite I missed? If so, please share!