It’s fascinating how the world tries to convince us of the need to do more, to have more, to buy more to enjoy a great Christmas. And yet, we’re never told those things in the Bible. We feel guilt and unable to measure up if we don’t do what “others” are doing. But, the fact is, many of the “others” are living paycheck-to-paycheck or are on the brink of bankruptcy. Fool.com reports that 9% of Americans are still paying off holiday debt from last year.
The solution is resting in your identity and finding peace in Christ. The apostle Paul wrote: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3 ESV)
You do not have to deny your family a “great Christmas.” Just do it differently than what you might see on TV, Instagram, Facebook, friends, family and neighbors, or even the past! Spend only what you can afford while still paying your bills.
Everyone agrees that saving money on Christmas shopping gives the holiday an extra layer of cheer. Here are five suggestions to increase your holiday cheer and your savings account simultaneously.
1. Make a List – Avoid the temptation to go shopping without a list and look for holiday inspiration. You’ll find inspiration, along with many gift items you didn’t really want at a higher price than you should have paid. Know what you are shopping for and avoid costly holiday “mission creep.” After all, even Santa makes a list (and checks it twice).
2. Make a Budget – A budget is the key to any form of saving. Once you have a gift list, research all the items on that list to find reasonable prices for those items. Once you see the typical range of prices, you’ll know a good deal when you see one.
3. Consider Homemade Presents – A knitted sweater or a handcrafted jewelry box not only saves money, but it also provides a personal touch that makes your gift special. Can’t knit or build things? You may be surprised at what you can learn – and if you find a new skill, you may acquire a hobby that can become a profitable side source of income.
4. Buy Previous Models of Electronics – If you must have the latest smartphone, game system, or Smart TV, be prepared to pay for it. Retailers are always offering deals on the previous versions to clear space for the new generations. Will your gift recipient really care if they receive the previous model?
5. Scale Back Your Tree – Do you really need a huge dead tree in your home to enjoy the holiday? Why not switch to a simple artificial tree that can be used year after year? If a natural tree is important, how about scaling the size back – or perhaps choosing a small living tree instead? You can plant it after the holidays and enjoy it all year round (assuming that you don’t live in an apartment).
And remember true gifts are an expression of the heart – not the wallet. Be grateful and look for God’s grace in your situation. Research shows that experiences rather than things often give greater satisfaction. Here are some tips and ideas for brightening your children’s holiday season without spending a lot of money.
Know your children and what THEY like. If they love dogs, watch dog shows or read dog books. If they like tinkering, teach them how to use tools and do repairs. Get on their level and sacrifice your time for them. They will love and remember it!
Make cards to put in their lunches or on their pillows. You can make gift certificates for something special to do together (and it doesn’t have to cost a penny!) Make the days special. Bake cookies together. Cook meals together giving the children special tasks that express your need and appreciation for their help. Affirm them verbally.
Read Christmas stories together or watch a holiday movie. Enjoy a bowl of popcorn, hot chocolate and marshmallows. Work a puzzle while listening to holiday music or a Christmas book. Play board games. Go for walks, bike rides, or hikes. Drive through holiday lights. Pack special snacks. Read scripture aloud together every night. The book of Luke is great to read as we near Christmas.
We hope you have an enjoyable holiday and an equally enjoyable post-holiday as you ponder your savings and the great new holiday traditions you started.