Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Shopping in Hard Economic Times

Today on the Craftie Ladies of Romance blog, Linda Goodnight was talking about going to the mall and finding it dead. And it made me wonder if people really will cut back on purchases this year. What I've found is that people usually spend more than they can afford, especially if they're buying for their children.

I'd really like to encourage everyone to shop within their means. Know how much you can afford, and try not to spend any more than that amount. Put those credit cards away and use cash. (Oh, I know how difficult this is!!)

I'd also like to share some ideas for inexpensive gifts and for making the most of the Christmas season...

*Give the gift of time: In our family, we love to make up coupon books to give. The coupons are for things like a free night of babysitting, a movie of your choice, a "date" with Mom, playing a board game of your choice, a hot date with your gorgeous wife. :)

*Homemade items: Printing photos and putting them in a collage frame. Artwork (kids can make the artwork to give, or a parent can frame a child's work and give it to him/her). Writing a story or poem to give. Baked items. Needlework. The possibilities are endless.

*Contributing to an organization in honor of someone. We donate to the United Methodist Children's Home each year in honor of our kids' teachers (school and Sunday school), in honor of our church, in honor of family members and long-distance friends, and in honor of other special people. It never fails that they love these gifts! I've also contributed to World Vision. For my dad's birthday this year we bought malaria prevention for a family and also filled a school backpack for a child in Africa--two things I knew would mean a lot to him. They even have a Christmas gift catalogue!

*Draw names if you have a big extended family. That way you're only giving one gift per person.

*Set limits up front. Know your budget. And if your children are old enough, be honest and tell them you can only spend X-amount. Talk to your spouse and set a limit on how much you spend on each other. One way we balanced our budget last year was to dramatically cut down on how much my husband and I spend on each other. That way we have more to spend on our children.

*Focus on the real meaning of Christmas! Focus on Jesus and the greatest gift of all. Throw a birthday party for Jesus. Take part in church activities. Do an Advent Bible study for a family devotional.

*Focus on spending time together. Take a drive and look at all the beautiful lights. Visit the mall--but admire the decorations and do some window shopping. Go to a Christmas movie together (matinee or dollar theater preferable!). Watch Christmas DVD's and drink hot chocolate. Snuggle up by the fireplace and tell your favorite Christmas memories.

*Focus on giving rather than receiving. Sponsor a needy child or family. Have everyone in the family contribute some of their own money to buy food and gifts for the family. I've found the kids might be all for doing this until we hit them in their own piggy banks. When they pull out their own money to buy a gift, then they seem fully invested.

I hope maybe I've offered an idea or two that will make your holiday a little easier, less stressful. Have you done any shopping or decorating yet?



  1. Great post. Yes, maybe this economic crunch will bring us back to the true maning of all that is important about this holiday: The birth of Jesus.

    Thanks for these suggestions, they are great. About five years ago, we announced to our families that we would no longer be doing gifts, instead, we'll donate a little money to a charity....and we asked that they all do the same with the money they wanted to spend on us.

    It seems to be working out well. We still do something little for the children in the family (just four nieces/nephews)...but the rest just get a card.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Lynn, I think that's such a great idea! I think sometimes we buy gifts out of a sense of obligation and lose the fact that we should be giving out of love. Some years I'm better at this than others. Some years I'm so rushed I'm just checking items off a list. Others, I take my time and really enjoy buying special gifts for family members. Maybe it comes down to attitude (for me) as much as anything.

    I'm glad you all send the donations! I learned early from my teacher sister that teachers get so much "stuff" they don't need that I decided to do something different. And teachers all respond so well.

  3. Decorating's done, but the shopping is a work in progress. BTW, I've been putting more pix and ideas on my blog, if you're interested.

  4. Thanks for reminding me, Mindy! I had meant to come by each day!!


  5. Missy,
    Great ideas. I'm like you when it comes to buying gifts. I don't want to be out there spending money just because I have to buy a gift, but sometimes it just happens. This year I've been saving flyers for things when I see something I think someone may like. Since we have 4 kiddo's and they all have spouses/significant others that's eight to buy for right there....We've had a small limit for a couple of years now. They are fine with it.
    Every year Lenny and I take a Saturday, (this year it's this SAturday) and we go to Blue Ridge to shop among the little shops in that town. We don't go with any excpections, just if we see something for someone we buy it. It's always fun. I think this year it's going to be cold though. Burr..(All outdoor walking except when you are in the stores)

  6. I'm making soap this year -- Frankincense and Myrrh with gold sparkles.

    I get so tired of giving "stuff" that won't be consumed and enjoyed.

    Everyone gets exactly the same thing, except the kids's soap (it's transparent for the most part) will have little toys in the middle. They will have to BATHE to get the toy. (sneaky, eh?)

  7. Lindi, I hope you have a great time!

    LOL, Rev! I like the way you think. :)

  8. And also, now that I think about it more, I really like that idea of giving things that are consumed and enjoyed. I hadn't really considered that before. Thanks!


  9. I like that idea of giving gifts that will be consumed. I love getting gifts like that!

    In my family, we're choosing names so that will cut down on everyone's spending.

    I may not send Christmas Cards this year, but I may get into baking. Great idea reverend!