This Christmas season promises to be a challenging one for just about everyone. From the wealthiest families to those struggling just to get by, it seems that everyone has been feeling the pinch in this economic downturn. Many families may feel they simply cannot afford to have a Christmas this year, but with a little bit of planning and a lot of discipline it is still possible to enjoy a vibrant and memorable holiday season.
Keeping spending under control can be a real challenge as the holiday season approaches, but it is even more vital this year. Spending too much on holiday gifts, fancy meals and other indulgences can make a bad economic situation even worse, and cause months of hardship down the road. In order to avoid these unhappy consequences shoppers need to take a step back and focus on what is truly important.
For some people that will mean restricting gift exchanges to close family members and a few close friends. Others may want to cut back on the gift giving to adult family members, focusing instead on the children in the family. No matter what the approach, it is important for family members and friends to have open and honest discussions about their gift giving plans. This approach is a good way to set realistic expectations and avoid uncomfortable situations when the holidays arrive.
Some other tips to help families enjoy an abundant holiday season without breaking the bank include:
Do a name exchange — Big families and offices have been doing this for years – this year may be a great time to start a family gift exchange. Have everyone write his or her name on a piece of paper, along with a few gift suggestions. Put all those pieces of paper into a hat and have everyone choose a name. This tradition is a great way to enjoy more meaningful gifts, while at the same time saving some serious money. This type of gift exchange is also a great way to learn about family members you may not know so well.
Give of yourself – Instead of spending lots of money on presents that mayor may not be appreciated after the holidays are over, why not give a gift you know will be well used? How about offering a day of free babysitting to that great young couple in your circle of friends? How about a fresh gourmet meal prepared for that busy coworker? Or a free pre-prom makeover and hair styling session for your favorite teenager? There are many ways to give of your time, and you know that those special presents won’t be returned the day after Christmas.