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I just saw an article by Heatherperk called “Tips for Affording Christmas” and it got me to thinking. Christmas is one of those holidays that stresses a lot of people out. It’s become all about the money, and so many people have a tough time figuring out how to afford it. Having been poor for most of my life, I understand how that feels.
There have been many years when I couldn’t afford gifts. I’ve been looked down on a lot for that, which to me is incredibly sad. I always wanted Christmas to be a time for family and joy and good food, but for a lot of people it’s all about the gifts. This post may seem a bit cynical in parts, but it’s actually a good way to save some of that much-needed money during the holiday season.
1) Don’t buy anything on credit. If you can’t afford to pay cash, don’t do it. There’s no one on Earth worth going into debt for, and the interest will make things cost more by the time you get them paid off.
2) Consider joint gifts. If you can get one gift for a couple, go for it, just make sure it’s something both will enjoy equally. Then you make two people happy for less cost.
3) Stop buying for so many people. I don’t know why people feel obligated to buy for every person in their family and friends too. I know someone who’s not well off but spends more than she can afford each year on the truckload of kids in her family. There’s no need. Cull your list of people you give gifts to. Give to the ones who mean the most to you, not everyone. Despite what the media tells us and habit has trained us, Christmas is not all about the gifts!
4) Try food gifts. You can often catch BOGO sales at the supermarket and get food inexpensively and cook in bulk. Everyone likes to eat. Try things like lasagna, soup, stew, chili, cakes or muffins, or you can take mason jars and fill them with ingredients so people can add liquids and make their own meal.
5) Make gifts. You can make all sorts of things for much less than buying stuff. Some people don’t appreciate handmade presents, but that’s no reason not to do it. If you make something that you believe they will enjoy and you put your heart into it, that’s what really matters.
6) Set spending limits. Our family saves a lot of expense and heartache by setting a limit of $20 per person. If there’s something someone wants that costs more, multiple people go in on it. the recipient gets fewer gifts, but they can get what they really want without any one person spending more than they can afford.
7) Get creative with wrapping. My family has a ball using cereal boxes, tp rolls, coffee cans and milk jugs to “wrap” gifts. it’s a lot of fun messing with people by putting their gifts in odd boxes. We’ve also crafted our own packages in odd shapes like pyramids and polygons. Use the Sunday comics or magazine pages for wrapping paper.
More than anything, try to remember that Christmas is not about the presents. If your family thinks it is, you might want to have a talk about it. It should be about love and togetherness more than anything. Just because stores have managed to convince the world that it’s all about buying, we don’t have to let it continue that way.