I know for most of you Christmas seems a long way off. Wouldn't it be nice if this year you gave the holiday more thought and planning so you will not experience January blues when the credit card bills come in? What if the day could be more about the true meaning of Christmas instead of a competition with the Jones's giving your children, friends and relatives the latest and greatest gifts stirred on by advertisers of course. You should start seeing Christmas ads soon I am sure.
I remember growing up where families were large and money was tight. Some of my best Christmas memories were being together as a family and having a few simple gifts. We truly felt blessed. Now for the most part Christmas is about an exchange of gift cards. I thought this year I would help you to plan in advance by providing some food for thought so this will be the year your best memories get created.
First start making a list of the people you feel you want or need to buy for. Then start thinking about what you can commit to for your Christmas budget. You will have to budget some of your disposable income. Choose an amount you can comfortably put aside each month without jeopardizing your current savings plans. Allow for some extra since it is like a home renovation, it always costs more. Assign a monetary value to each name.
Next think about the person and what they would like. If you were them, what would you enjoy receiving? This may be something homemade like gift certificates of services you would do such as washing and waxing their car, making a meal, or offering to babysit someone's children. Think of what the receiving person would appreciate. If you have plans to purchase store bought gifts then start looking now and take advantage of sales. Shopping now can really save you money because over time everything goes on sale up and until it gets closer to Christmas. Retailers know you will pay anything as it gets closer to Christmas so few things go on sale.
If you really want to save money and have a lot of fun, you can plan for one family to host the holiday party or look for a restaurant with a private room and do a gift exchange. If you have a lot of children within the immediate family you can have one dedicated to the children and another one for the adults. You set a price limit say $50 and only buy a gift for that value. If you get the gift on sale it will be even better.
Nobody gets to know in advance who will receive the gift. All gifts purchased are wrapped by the individual that will participate and put under the tree. Each person draws a number and then gets to go in order to pick something from the tree. The next person that picks a gift has a choice from under the tree or a gift already chosen and opened. The person that picks at the end gets their choice of gift. It is the most fun because you won't really know what you will end up with until the very end. You can wrap the gift in disguise to make it even more fun.
We did this one year and had the most fun that even the children enjoyed it. Everyone got to see what the other person got and had a lot of laughs doing it. If this is done at one person's home then the family members coming over will bring a main dish of food so no one gets stuck doing all the work and expense of hosting.
A restaurant is easy because there is no mess and you know exactly in advance how much it will cost each person. Try thinking outside the box this year and remember what Christmas is really all about. Celebrate in a way that brings families closer together. Make January blues a thing of the past. No regrets.