Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Gifts: Making a List, Checking It Twice

Pretty soon most people will be thinking about Christmas.  Black Friday is in 4 days.  Before you go out and spend your money on great deals that you or somebody else neither needs or wants, take the time to write down who you want to buy gifts for this year.  Then, sit down and figure out what you can afford to spend WITHOUT GOING INTO ANY DEBT.  Estimate how much you have to spend on each person.  Follow Santa's example:  After you make your list, check it twice.  Adjust the amount, if necessary, if you you don't have enough money to cover your purchases without using credit.  The last thing you want is to be paying for your Christmas for months after it is over.  If you don't have as much as you would like this year, do what you can with what you have and save money next year so you will have more. 

Here are a few ideas to share that might get you thinking of ideas if your budget is tight: 

Have a sledding party.  After, serve hot chocolate and have an old fashioned taffy pull.  Make handmade ornaments each year for everyone on your list. 

Have everyone in the family make homemade things for each couple in the family.  For example, make the same jam for each couple or the same loaf of banana bread, etc.  If you have 5 couples in your family, you make 5 of each item. 

Do a white elephant gift exchange.  If you don't want to do a white elephant exchange, try setting a monetary limit and do a gift exchange instead of buying gifts for each person. 

Have everyone in the family take the money they would have spent on each other and donate it to a worthy cause or do a secret Santa. 

Make a recipe book of your family's favorite recipes.  Have everyone contribute recipes instead of giving gifts. 

Following the same pattern as one of the comments above, you could give everyone a gift card to the same restaurant and then all go out to eat together.  You could also give everyone a gift card to the same store and go shopping together after Christmas.

One of our traditions we started is to go to World Market on Christmas Eve day and everyone gets to spend $10 on whatever they want to put into their stockings. I didn't want to deal with stockings that year, and it ended up being a lot of fun so it turned into a tradition. 

Decorate the tree together as a family.  Make edible sugar cookie or gingerbread ornaments  or string Froot Loops or popcorn.  You could also make paper chains or paper ornaments.  Try making origami ornaments for a change one year. 

Christmas is about family, not about stuff.  Remember that, and everything else will fall into place.  You can have a wonderful holiday, regardless of how much you have to spend.