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Christmas Spending—Stay on Target

Darren Laudenbach - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

As one of the most difficult times of the year to stay on target from a financial standpoint, most of us both dread and love the Christmas season. It’s challenging to find gifts for everyone without spending thousands of dollars, but none of us wants to be that guy/girl/family when it comes to giving gifts and making the holidays special. Instead of going broke and literally paying for it until Christmastime next year, here are a few things to keep in mind during the holiday season.

It’s Not About Stuff

I know that it’s tempting to get the latest and greatest everything for your family members, and we all want to give amazing gifts for those that we love. However, keep in mind that the reason we celebrate is because Christ came to earth as our Saviour, and He would not be fond of all the overboard and lavish gift giving that makes it impossible for us to pay bills, give generously, and fund His Kingdom throughout the rest of the year.

It’s not about what you give; it’s about the meaning behind Christmas, the thought put into each gift, time spent with family, and taking time to celebrate the birth of Christ. If you can’t focus on this, perhaps you need to reread the four gospels to get a feel for what we’re really supposed to remember at Christmas.

Free Gift Ideas

Most of us become absorbed with the idea of spending, spending, and spending some more, making sure that we have presents for every man, woman and child within our circle. That just isn’t practical! There are virtually hundreds of ways to give great gifts without spending a single dollar, and the people on your list will appreciate it greatly. For instance:

  • Give time. Create coupons that special people can “redeem” and spend one-on-one time with you, such as a coupon that is good for “Lunch with Dad,” for instance. These can be redeemed within reason, such as making a note that you need a little notice to rearrange your schedule.
  • Give creativity. Are you one of those people who can draw, cook, paint, build, design, write, etc? Consider giving a unique, personalised gift made by your hands, such as a drawing, painting, poem/story, carving, homemade treat, and so on.
  • Give donations. One way to give generously without spending on useless items that will be trashed or unappreciated is to make a donation in someone else’s name. Consider a donation to a charity that you know he/she approves, such as a homeless shelter or humane society, and present the recipient with a card bearing the donation information.

Keep it Simple

If you want to spend money, but want to keep it to a minimum, there are also ways to stay budget-friendly and have a great Christmas. Here are some ideas:

  • Shop all year. As you find fabulous deals throughout the year, and as you can afford them, pick things up and stash them away for next Christmas. They don’t have to be big ticket items; think small, such as when your grocery store marks makeup or hand lotion to almost nothing. Toss the items in a bin, box or bag where they’ll be safe but easy to find, then create gift baskets or treat bags next holiday season.
  • Make a list. At the beginning of each new year, make a list of all the people you hope to buy gifts for next Christmas season. You can add or take away from this list as needed, and check people off as you find gifts that are appropriate. By the time December rolls around, you may discover that you have few or no gifts left to purchase, and this is a great reminder of when it’s time to downsize!
  • Give family/group gifts.  If you have a large family, consider giving one gift to the family instead of individual gifts. Some large families draw names, others give family gift cards, but this is a great way to save money and you run less of a risk of forgetting someone. For instance, give a gift card to a restaurant, movie tickets, or cash to the family, or offer coupon for free childcare to a young couple with small children.

Wrapping Up

Don’t forget that it’s not about what we give someone financially; it’s about what we give of ourselves. Those we love will value our time and focus far more than trinkets, so turn off the television, ignore the advertisements, and skip the lavish spending that ruins our budgets for months. Do more to learn how to appreciate Jesus and family/friends during the Christmas holiday season!