Christmas! Tis the season for overspending and cringing when we look at our bills. Well, that is if you do not have the proper boundaries in place! The hubs and I have made the decision to opt out of commercial Christmas and bring the focus back to to its true meaning: the love of God in giving us His Son.
Now, we also don’t believe that Jesus was born Christmas day, or even this season for that matter, but as history’s tradition would have it, Jesus is celebrated December 25th and we are fine with it.
Back to gifts.
We love the idea of blessing others and being intentional with the gifts we give, but we also found that the tradition of gift giving can easily get out of hand with expectations and the push of commercialism. To be more money conscious we have opted for certain changes in our approach to family gifts and work events, and though it was a little awkward at first we are now fully comfortable putting financial wisdom before meeting silly gift expectations. If you are choosing to be more financially aware this year but feel hesitant expressing your desire, ensure that you practice explaining why you are making this decision so it does not turn into a pity party or a defensive fight when you present it to individuals. With loved ones we presented our ideas and explained it with phrases such as “we have had a lot of expenses with renovations, we want save where we can and be financially responsible, but we love to spend time with you to celebrate the season” or “we feel gift giving has lost its intentionality and don’t want everyone spending money on items we will never use, instead let us play a gift game that saves us money, is still fun for everyone, and we all walk away with a little something”. With my work place I have been honest in saying “I do not feel comfortable receiving gifts, I would rather bring in a dish for everyone to snack on instead” and with close coworkers have said “we have a lot of expenses and are decluttering, I will opt out of gifts this year but appreciate the thought of including me”. Not everyone will respond positively, but remind yourself that you are doing this for yourself, and that how others choose to react is not your responsibility or weight to carry.
Gift Giving Ideas
1. Talk to family about doing such things as Kris Kringle or Secret Santa instead of everyone having to purchase a gift for each family member.
2. Opt out of unnecessary gift exchanges amongst office parties and some of your friend groups and make a food for the event instead! I often find that making a cheesecake costs me around $10 which is below the $25 I would have to spend on a gift that is likely to end up in a closet.
3. Invest into time together vs material gifts: my family pays for a cottage vacation in lieu of gifts for everyone, while we also opt for a meal out together instead of gifts with my siblings-in-law.
4. The gift of giving back: instead of buying gifts with friends and spending $50/pp, go to a dollar store and spend $20 buying items you can donate to a local shelter.
5. The gift of writing: I love receiving hand written notes and cards with kind words! I much prefer it to a gift with little thought behind it. Sit and write your loved ones a thoughtful letter on how you feel about them, how valuable they are to you, and even write a prayer or hope for their new year. Spending a little time on this and writing it on nice paper is a gift they can cherish and read back on for years to come.
Do you have some free gift ideas you have done/do? Share them with everyone in a comment below!