Christmas Doesn’t Have to Mean Going Broke

It’s December and the first thing that comes to mind is… Christmas! Already Christmas programs are in full swing – the Nashville Christmas parade was this past weekend, the lighting of the Christmas trees is happening all over the place, and the malls are crammed with shoppers.

And that brings me to what I want to talk to you about today – shopping for Christmas presents.

A few years ago I read the book The Five Love Languages and found that gift-giving is not my love language – that is to say – I love giving and receiving gifts, but it is not the main way I receive nor express love. Are you familiar with this book? It’s very good and talks about five different ways people show love, which is the same way that they receive love.  (give a brief description of the five love languages).

For those of you who might be a little short on extra gift giving money this year, realize that giving gifts isn’t always necessary to tell someone at Christmastime that you love them. I’d like to offer you some suggestions.

The last thing in the world you need to do this Christmas is go into debt for Christmas gifts.

  1. Draw names and do a gift exchange rather than buying everyone a gift. We’ve done this in my family when money is tight and it’s fun with even as few as five or six people. It’s so financially helpful to buy one gift instead of something for everyone, and it’s can be especially fun if you make it a Secret Santa and try to keep it a secret plus do several small things and one bigger gift at the end.
  2. Do a family/friend activity instead of exchanging gifts. Make an ornament, paint a picture, go on a day trip, serve the homeless or less fortunate – anything that makes a memory and doesn’t cost much. Most of us don’t need more stuff, and the memory will still be there years later where a gift is likely to be forgotten.
  3. Pitch in for a gift for the less fortunate. In lieu of buying gifts for one another, find a non-profit and make a donation or buy a gift for a child in need. You can go in together and buy one big gift, or provide a meal or gifts for one family, or each person can give one gift on their own. There are lots of opportunities for this and just ask around for an organization that is doing a toy drive, etc.
  4. Have a party instead of giving gifts! Make it a potluck and everyone pitch in on decorations, food, and drinks. Play games, watch Christmas movies, listen to music, sing, laugh, and enjoy one another.
  5. Have a “Dirty Santa” party. Buying only ONE gift each. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s loads of fun. It’s where everyone buys one generic gift and puts it under the tree. When you get ready to exchange gifts, everyone gets a number. #1 gets to choose any gift under the tree and opens it. Then #2 gets to either “steal” the gift #1 just opened, or gets to choose a new gift. Each person can either “steal” or open a new gift, and if your gift is stolen, you can either steal another one or choose something new to open. It’s loads of fun and can go on for hours, so some people put limits on how many times a particular gift can be stolen, etc.
  6. Agree with your family/friends to give “White Elephant” gifts. A White Elephant is something you already have in your house, but don’t particularly use, and can wrap up as a gift. Some people combine the White Elephant gifts with the Dirty Santa party.
  7. MAKE your gifts rather than purchasing them. One year for my work friends, I bought Christmas mugs from Goodwill for a few dollars, and gave them along with homemade hot cocoa mix. Everyone appreciated the gesture! Homemade cookies, a hand decorated pot for a plant along with seeds, ingredients and a recipe for a special dish, etc. The ideas are endless!
  8. Chip in and do something special together. This would be something that is affordable as a group if everyone chips in, but might be cost prohibitive alone. For example, a road trip, renting a cabin, boat, or helicopter ride, or hiring a chef to come and give a cooking class, or an artist to give a painting class. Again, it’s making memories rather than buying something you don’t need.

One of our family members said they limit gifts, and build memories instead and THEN she makes sure they take lots of photos and makes a photo album as the keepsake so they’ll remember what a great time they had.

Whatever you decide, please know that nobody in your family nor your friends would want to know you are going into debt or feeling stressed over buying them a gift! Enjoy the holidays and don’t let it be about shopping!

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