Sometimes, we put way too much money into celebrating Christmas. What should be a celebration of the birth of Christ soon becomes a "keeping up with the Jones'" race to the checkout counter.
This year with so many people out of work, underemployed or budgeting so they can get out of debt, we all need to be thinking more creatively, more sensibly about how we celebrate Christmas.
And now is the time to start planning. Now is the time to start making lists and budgeting. Now is the time to make some creative plans on what you will spend your money on and what you won't.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the 13 years that I have been a mom is that gifts come and go. They gather dust. They break and they are lost. Even the most beloved presents become garage sale fodder and in the end, a waste of money.
Think about your own childhood. Can you think of the Christmas presents you received each and every year? All the boxes you opened...all the wrapping paper you tore through.
I know I can't.
I do remember a few meaningful ones, like the stick horse I wanted one year or the leather coat my mom got for me when I was a teenager.
But for the most part, the gifts are all forgotten, gone from my memory.
And our kids are no different.
But what does last? The memories you make. The time you spend with your children. Those are the things that will last a lifetime.
And those are the things we can all afford to give our children this Christmas.
So, even though it is July, I want you to start thinking about what you can do to budget this Christmas, and give more memories. Spend less so you can give your family MORE.
Here are my top ten Creative Christmas Celebration Tips.
10 Creative Christmas Celebration Tips
1. SAVE NOW - Start putting some cash aside now. Even $10 each week will add up so that by Christmas, you will have over $250. Saving $20 each week will give you $500.
2. CASH ONLY - Commit to only spending cash this Christmas. No credit cards. No additional debt. It is a big commitment but well worth it.
3. MAKE LISTS - Make a list of everyone you buy a gift for, and then set an amount you will spend on each gift. i.e. I will spend $10 on my nephew, and $25 on my brother. Setting and sticking to these limits will help you stay within your budget.
4. SHOP NOW - Shop now for those gifts when they are on clearance. You can find some fantastic deals online and in the stores on the clearance racks.
5. WISE MEN - Give your children 3 gifts only. One for each of the gifts the wise men gave Jesus at His birth. It will cut down on the gift giving and help you focus on Jesus.
6. TIME - Give the gift of time to your children. Plan on going places and doing things with your children. Spend some of your budgeted Christmas money on those things because they will build memories that will last a lifetime. (examples: go to an indoor water park in December; Take a weekend trip to a national landmark, etc.)
7. NAME DRAW - Ask extended family if they are willing to do a gift exchange to reduce gift giving and spending. Have all the cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents put their name in a hat on Thanksgiving (0r sooner) and randomly have each person draw a name out. Set a price range and do not over spend. That way each person only buys one gift, puts more thought into it, and saves each family money. Other ideas for saving money through a Christmas gift exchange can be found here.
8. HOMEMADE - Homemade gifts are always more meaningful than store bought ones. If you cross stitch, start now making some cross stitch patterns for gifts. If you sew, sew some throw pillows. If you craft, make some fun crafts you can put away for simple Christmas gifts to neighbors and friends. Family Fun is a great resource for homemade gifts.
9. BAKE - My mother-in-law makes these amazing tea rings for gifts every year. Find something you would enjoy baking, from cookies to coffee cake, and make some sweet treats to give as gifts. You will save money and people will appreciate having home baked treats around the holidays. Cookie mixes in a jar are simple and delicious.
10. INDIVIDUALLY WRAP - I wrap every part of a gift individually so when the kids wake up Christmas morning, there appear to be more gifts than there truly are. Kids love tearing open the paper, and I am still within budget! (i.e. I wrap socks in a shirt box; wrap the shirt separate from the pants; etc...) Other wrapping tips can be found here.