Christmas has become a shopping bonanza focused on expensive gifts, giving several gifts to each person and giving to adults as well as to children. This is far removed from the way Christmas was originally celebrated. Why is it that some of us feel pressured to spend money we don’t have, on gifts for people that may not need them or even appreciate them?
Christmas is meant to be about celebrating our Messiah’s birth. Gifts are a large part of our celebrations and we want operate wisdom when giving whilst still keeping Jesus at the centre of our Christmas. As Christmas is around the corner, we have some ideas to help avoid overspending.
1. Make a budget and stick to it
Plan in advance. Decide how much money you have to spend and don’t spend more. The budget should include the extra food and items that you would buy over Christmas time. It is very easy to overspend when visiting a supermarket full of festive treats, as well as advertising to encourage you to spend, spend, spend.
Next, write a list of all the people you would like to give to and then add your gift idea by their name. (Buy gifts when you see them available) If you put money away for Christmas over the proceeding months, it will take the pressure off.
Sales can be a good time to pick up a bargain but don’t just buy for the sake of it.
If you start early it can make shopping less stressful. Online shopping enables you to do some research on the best prices, which can save time and money.
2. Make a gift
Try making gifts. There are so many great inexpensive ideas on the internet.
You could have a fun family day making gifts for others. This could involve crafts or baking. Bake biscuits, chocolates or sweets and wrap them attractively or place them in a special tin that can be used afterwards. Home made gifts are truly unique! Wrapping a gift beautifully will make it even more special.
3. Meaningful words
Words that express how you feel about someone can be very precious in a thank you note. Writing to each member of the family and encouraging them can be a special gift to remember.
4. Decide to give one gift to each of your children
This can work better if you discuss this idea with your children in advance, otherwise it could lead to very disappointed children! – This applies if your family tradition which has been one of giving many gifts on Christmas Day.
5. Agree with your family and friends to pass on giving gifts
Some families agree not to give gifts. This can be difficult depending on your family culture, so a step towards this might be to do a ‘Secret Santa’ and therefore just buy for one member of the family. This is done by drawing names out of a hat to determine who will buy for whom. Other ideas that you can have fun with are:
Each family member can choose a mug and fill it with sweets etc or think of an activity that you could all do together.
A family might agree to enjoy sharing food together and to invite friends who may be alone for Christmas.
6. Give to those in need
If there are people you know who are struggling to make ends meet why not surprise them with a gift of money, food or something that would help them.
There are many excellent charities that have gift selections that will make a difference to other people’s lives and also make an original gift
Food banks really appreciate donations, especially during the winter time. A selection of food items could change a family’s Christmas.
7. Give the gift of your time instead of money
If you have limited money then look at giving something that has a different cost to it. Why not involve the whole family and offer to help at a homeless centre at Christmas (some Churches provide a Christmas Dinner for elderly people living on their own) or pop in on an elderly neighbour and share some Christmas joy.
It could be a different way to spend Christmas.
A promise note is a written gift which states what you would be able to do for them at a given time. This could include gardening, babysitting, cooking a meal or simply sharing the skills that you have with your family and friends. Why not write it in a home-made card which would unveil a special surprise.