Creating a Financially Healthy Christmas

thWith the Christmas shopping season in full swing as of November first, it is now time to take a breath and decide how to effectively navigate through this season with your family’s finances in tact. First and foremost, we must remember that the Christmas season is a time of remembering and celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah. That’s it.
We all know this, BUT the culture at large (which is not all Christian) has chosen to distract us with the pursuit of the perfect gift for every single person we know. Jesus was THE perfect gift, so our pursuit is over. We do not stress over Islamic holidays or Jewish holidays so why would be stress over what the culture is trying to sell us as our holiday? It’s OUR celebration of Jesus not Target’s and Wal-Mart’s and Toys R Us’ celebration.
I feel better now. With the pressure to meet some culturally mandated expectation removed, here are a few ways to minimize the financial stress of Christmas:
• Too late for this year, but next year you can shop all year long for presents as you find them for good deals. I bought my teacher gifts for this year over the summer.

• Baked goods wrapped in festive tissue paper are the perfect gift for teachers, mailmen, friends, hairdressers, etc. One day of baking and all those gifts are finished. (Skip some of these people if it adds stress or just send them a nice card of thanks.)

• We have “Santa” fill the kids’ stockings. This way they can’t ask for anything too big from him. The gifts under the tree are from us.

• Character underwear, pencils, socks, bubble bath, character shampoo, and toothbrushes can all count as stocking stuffers.

• Never buy ridiculously priced Christmas presents. No kid needs a $100 mechanical dinosaur or fancy doll. Use Christmas as a chance to buy the things you want them to have anyway like a toy kitchen or train table. (Think garage sale or older friend trying to move these things out.)

• Don’t buy much of anything for kids who don’t even know it’s Christmas. Wrap up a few boxes and let them play with the paper and the box. Not kidding!

• With kids, anything they create can be a great (cheap) gift for grandparents. A frame with their finger prints painted on it with a cute picture inside could be done for $5.

• Draw names or rotate families in the extended family so you minimize who you buy for and who buys for your kids. Trust me, you don’t want a lot of new plastic STUFF finding it’s way into your house and neither do your relatives.

Release the fantasy of some perfect, magical (stuff-filled) Christmas. Focus on the birth of our precious Lord, buy a few things for your kids, wrap them up under the tree and they WILL have a perfect, magical Christmas.

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