Budgeting and saving

Christmas is just around the corner

Christmas is just around the corner and I imagine we are all thinking about the cost. Christmas doesn’t have to break the bank.

Presents for family and immediate friends can be oriented towards the time you spend with them than the money you spend. Trust me, most of the people close to you would like to spend time with you rather than have you buy them something they may not use. My mother taught me that. I won’t get into that story though. My brother has two small children, 3 & 1; an evening out without the kids, knowing they are in a loving, caring environment, without teen-agers watching their kids is more valuable than any present I could buy him. If you have to buy presents where you work, consider something homemade or baked. Chances are, they don’t get that kind of stuff on a regular basis. Your parents, if they are close, just want to spend time with you. Give them a certificate for a dinner once or twice a week for a year. If they live far away, create a picture disc of your family, or a video, or make a family collage of what’s been happening in your family over the past year. Remember money doesn’t keep a family together, memories do. Christmas is about what’s important, not what’s been bought.

One of my staff gave me a great idea, but my children are grown and I wish I would have thought of it myself. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, so the focus should be on the meaning of His birth. She doesn’t spend much on Christmas, but she saves her money for their birthdays. Which, for her, is the greatest give she was given. That’s when they get the good presents.

The thought of buying gifts for everyone almost ruins the season for me! Not that I don’t like to get for people, but the gifts I can afford are just “token” gifts, you know? I like the idea of spending time with people. I LOVE gift cards for me, but some people act offended if you get them that. Anyone have good ideas for grandparents? Mine are all in their 80s. How would you give a gift that would be spending time with them, too?

My husband and I have an every other year gift cycle. Meaning that this year will be a small, token gift year (as mentioned by Jennifer) and next year will be gifts that are more substantual. But the thought of the stress associated with feeling like this an expectation every year really sometimes depresses me, also.

I know how that is with gift cards too. My mother-in-law hates gift cards (she claims because they require no thought) I can see her point – but when you have many relatives in other states and then calculate shipping fees… etc… and then the fact that what you got them may not be right anyway, sending a nice gift card to their favorite store only allows them to chose a gift they really want. Then everybody is happy, I think.

My grandmothers are both in Prague, Czech Republic. For Christmas they really enjoy a small photo album of pictures of my husband and I enjoying our life from the past year. This means more to them than anything, besides us finally visiting one day (but that wouldn’t be over Christmas, because it’s too darn cold there then) After this coming up holiday season, we are expecting our first baby in late January, so I’m sure the holidays will much different after that.