We are just 10 weeks away from Christmas, which should be a time of making memories and connecting with friends and family. Unfortunately, for many it becomes a time of stress and anxiety, especially due to the financial strain that you allow it to become.
My suggestion is to look honestly at your situation and to decide how you want to spend Christmas – not just on how much you want to spend on Christmas. Your time and effort should be spent creating traditions and arranging to enjoy this season as much as possible. You could also challenge yourself and your family to do activities that is low-cost or free. It’s easy to spend money – it takes more thought and consideration to plan experiences.
With young children I saw a great 4-gift rule. It is basically
-1 present for something they need
-1 present for something they want
-1 present to wear
-1 present to read.
That seems like wonderful advice.
(Thanks to Lesly, one of my followers for sharing that)
For older families as they grow and have families of their own, it becomes more of a challenge. In our family, with four adult children and spouses we are starting a new tradition of a “Secret Santa”. Everyone’s name goes in to a hat and each of us draws just one name. We then purchase just this one present at a value not to exceed $60.00. Of course, grandchildren are excluded from this at least in our case. Additionally if a spouse wants to get presents for their immediate family, that is their choice and something they decide themselves.
The good thing about this system is that siblings don’t stress over what to get their siblings, or parents, etc. They know they only have to buy one present, and therefore can take more time and effort to choose it. We also encourage and welcome re-gifting!
I look forward to the holiday season with great anticipation each year. For me, I love to drag out my old tacky sweaters, the hand-made ornaments that the kids made decades ago, cover our home with crass decorations and crank up the Christmas carols. We make sure to take in a number of live Christmas events and current Christmas movies. This includes driving around and checking out the festive lights.
Our four days of “family” Christmas are spent with pot-luck dinners, lots of laughs and traditions such as watching Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve. For over 30 years I have been making a Christmas cinnamon bun tree for breakfast (yes, I confess out of Pillsbury package)…which takes no time, costs very little, but still means so much to all of us, if only to remind us that some things never change.
We do not spend much money on buying things, since I’m a firm non-consumer and prefer doing things than having things. We do donate and give of our time to the Food Bank and other important charities at this time of year.
Before you let Christmas sneak up on you, take some time to discuss with your significant other and your family how you want to remember this Christmas. Set some boundaries and some goals for making this the most special holiday season you’ve ever had.
Until next week….."Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn't spend half our time wishing."
-- Alexander Woollcott, Critic and Commentator for The New Yorker magazine.