Christmas has been widely argued to be too consumer-oriented. Many Christians believe that the entire meaning of the celebration is completely overlooked by capitalistic drive. Santa Claus, giant trees, trinkets, décor, gifts and bows, and stockings full of gadgets and goodies, could easily be argued to compose a reality derived exclusively from department store advertising rather than actual religious traditions. Scaling back on gifts and extras can be easily justified and could actually cause enjoyment if one were to replace those things with new traditions, traditions that celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. When excessive gifting does not occur, children may place more value on those things that they do receive. It could be argued that lavishing loved ones with gifts one year causes unthankfulness that has traditionally been met with a lump of coal the next.
What ever happened to the age of holiday boardgames? Taking the time during the holidays to include festive activities, singing, playing games, roasting marshmallows and chestnuts “over the open fire,” thanks Mel Tormé, may be things that you should consider as replacements for over-gifting that will make this season equally as memorable without spending a lot of dough.
Another way to save money over the holidays, especially where kids are involved, is by purchasing a couple of nicer/nice-ish gifts; if you feel that the holidays necessitate more than this you could satisfy the rest of your holiday buying compulsions with cheaper, fun, perhaps crafty, gifts. It’s amazing that every birthday and Christmas it seems that it’s the cheap toys, like the bouncing ball, or the plastic sand truck, that leave a lasting impression on the children in my family.
Another idea is budgeting ahead of time. Have a specific amount set forth; determine how much you’re going to spend on each individual in the family. Budgeting ahead of time and keeping a ledger of what you spend on each individual will keep you from succumbing to the myth that buying gifts at Christmas sales is actually saving you money. Don’t get drawn into the idea that because you purchased something on sale you’re staying with your bottom line.
Family agreements are another way to save money. Ask around as to who is buying for whom and suddenly you’ll find that ears are more sympathetic, even enthusiastic, about kosher agreements for spending boundaries. Do some asking around; don’t try to lead the charge of thriftiness, but as the discussion surfaces and evolves you may find some discussions taking form about arrangements to both save money and face. I hate that I even have to say this but “do not use a credit card!” Unless you are the type of person that pays off the entire balance of your card each month to gather points, SkyMiles, etc., do not use a credit card. Why? Remember what happened last Christmas?
Are things tight this year? Have the party at someone else’s house. Are you stuck having the party at your house? Request that each partygoer bring a dish. There are many things that you can do to save yourself from the stress of overspending during the holidays. However, what should be forefront in our thoughts is a focus on the family and remembrance of the why behind the what. Even if an individual did not have enough money to purchase one gift for another person, or enough money for one meal during the holiday season, I’m willing to bet that a family that is focused on each other and has an abundance of love is going to have a better time and take with them more memories than those with an abundance of things and no genuine charity between themselves.