Gift-giving holidays are often the most stressful. Finding the right gift for a certain person, spending too little or too much, and gift exchanges in fractured families are just a few of the stressors that people experience during the gift-giving season … the whole process can be daunting and expensive … and often, not appreciated.
Why not step back from the commercialism and retail frenzy and look at what’s really important, the reason for the celebration and people that you are celebrating with.
Here are seven things you can do to relieve financial stress this holiday.
- Set a spending limit. Most people know that money is tight; if there is a doubt let them know.
- Help your children lower their expectations. Take some time to talk about general economics before the big day arrives. If they are old enough, ask them how they could save money during the holidays.
- Make a plan and a list and then stick to it. Consider one reasonably priced “big gift” and then necessary items like socks, underwear, and toothbrushes. Be conscious of impulse buying; it can blow your budget very quickly.
- Consider giving practical or memorable gifts this year. Do you have a college student on your list? Why not put together a care package of essential items like soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent or make a basket of their favorite foods. It will be appreciated and will get used.
- a. If you need a gift for an older person, why not consider creating a photo album, scrapbook, or a booklet of your favorite recipes. You could also restore an old photo for your parents or grandparents. These memorable, one-of-a-kind gifts can give special meaning to the holiday.
- Give meaningful rather than material gifts: gift certificates for a service work well. Do you know someone that needs babysitting, snow shoveling, errands, or maybe just a visit with you. Does your mom or dad have a chore that they can’t seem to get to? Offer to do it for them. Give of your time. Not only does it provide a service, it also builds relationships.
- Focus on togetherness. If gift opening takes less time than normal this year, why not spend the extra time putting together a puzzle, cooking brunch together, or playing board games.
- And, most importantly, remember, purchased gifts do not equal love. Don’t feel guilty about not buying presents this year.
Non-gift giving ways to spend the holidays
We’ve heard that it is more blessed to give than receive, but what happens when giving isn’t in the budget? During those times, consider non-gift giving holiday celebrations. They can be more meaningful and memorable.
Plan a family trip to visit relatives that live within driving distance.
Spend a family day together. Go skiing, skating or sledding. Visit a theme park, water park, or museum.
Draw names instead of buying for the entire family, set a dollar limit for each gift – and stick to it. If you need help knowing what to purchase, ask others for insight into hobbies, interests, and personality to choose just the right gift. Finding the perfect gift at the perfect price can be a satisfying adventure.
If you want to give someone a special gift but are short on funds, pool funds with other family members or friends to buy the gift. Do you have brothers and sisters? Why not pitch in to buy a nice gift for mom or dad?
Simplify your holiday traditions. Before the season, review the traditions that your family currently adopts. Some traditions will change as the family grows older, more members are added, and members move away. Focus on one or two that would be the most meaningful for this season and enjoy.
Instead of the 12 days of gift giving, plan the 12 days of togetherness. Plan game-, movie-, cookie-, service-, and family-picture-nights. Spend the time together having fun. The memories will last longer than any “thing” that money can buy.
Start setting aside money in January for next year’s celebration. It will take much of the stress away from the holiday.