Christmas on a Budget

Is anyone else feeling the pinch of buying Christmas gifts this year?  Yes, the average American plans to spend $715 on Christmas gifts in 2010…despite our current economic situation (10% unemployment, plunging home values, record credit card debt…you know the list). So though Motherhood often makes me feel like I don’t know much of anything anymore, I am fairly certain that God did not intend for us to celebrate Christ’s birth with debt, guilt…and yes, clutter. So with that…I thought I would pass on some interesting ways to celebrate Christmas generously, while remaining on a budget (I know…it’s easier said than done…but at least we can start talking about a simpler Christmas). Here we go: 1) Limit your adult family gift giving to one gift per person (set a rough pre-determined amount, if desired)…or do away with adult gifts all together and focus on the kids.  2) Have a big family? Draw names…put them in a hat and then have a big party with less stress and less expense.  3) Offer experiences, or services in a handmade gift card (babysitting for new parents, a day of shopping with your Grandmother after Christmas, an offer to help clean out your parent’s garage).  4) Though I am no Martha Stewart…and I don’t recommend making Christmas Ornaments out of old CD’s, or anything silly like that… you can make some extremely thoughtful “homemade gifts” for less. Here are some examples that anyone can do: baked goods, decorative note cards, a Shutterfly/Snapfish photo album, a “family gift basket” with a jigsaw puzzle, hot chocolate, and popcorn.  Other ideas: Place your child’s artwork into a really nice frame for the grandparents. Do you have a new “in-law” in your family? Give her a special calendar marked with birthdays, anniversaries and other special days. Record an elderly relative’s life experiences and stories with a video camera and make DVD copies for the family.  5) For the person who has everything…make a charitable donation in their honor. Create a handmade card with photos and an explanation of their gift (ideas: the Samaritan’s Purse online gift catalog lets you feed a hungry baby for a week, or purchase household water filters; purchase a goat or sheep for a family in need through Heifer International; or stay local with a donation to Toys for Tots, an Angel Tree, or a local Food Bank.  6) Finally, if you are blessed with enough to share generously, think about maximizing value with these creative, no-clutter gifts: a multi-month Netflix subscription for someone homebound, a Sittercity.com membership for parents seeking babysitters, a thoughtful “date night” offering with a restaurant gift card and cinema tickets, tutoring sessions for a niece struggling with math, or…a college savings plan for a grandchild.  Hmmm….Christmas on a budget doesn’t sound so Scrooge-like anymore. Anybody else want to share ideas?

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