Over the years, we’ve struggled to stay within a reasonable spending plan during gift giving at Christmas. There are a variety of reasons it’s a struggle, sometimes it has to do with our income that year, and it always ties into our family values; how we choose to spend the money we have. Christmas can be a season of overindulgence. It’s really easy to loose perspective on what’s important while we run around buying ‘more stuff’. I’ve found it really helps to have a plan. This plan includes a specific budget allocated for family members.
Part of our plan is that we save each month toward Christmas, so that when December comes, the money is already available. If we find a great item in September, I buy it and set it aside for Christmas. This plan helps to avoid the January bills aka. . .blues.
The general rule when our kids were young was three gifts per child. This plan simplified the process. We gave each child a book, an outfit and an age appropriate fun gift. In our house, stocking stuffers are both fun and practical – underwear, socks, shampoo, along with small items they will enjoy, and of course favourite candy. As the kids have grown into young adults, we continue to utilize a budget, but I incorporate time with each child to shop together. This time together is precious and saves me a lot of shopping frustration!
One other simple money saver is that we don’t buy gifts for our neighbours, friends’ kids and others. We bake or make something for those special people and set some time aside to spend with them. Spending time with those we love is the best gift of all.
I recently returned to school. As a mature student and working mother, my Christmas plan requires not only financially efficiency, but time efficiency as well. I now plan one BIG shopping day at the end of November. I schedule a date with my daughters and mom to shop with. We have a great time shopping together (with pre-planned lists), stop for a nice meal or coffee during the day to relax and chat, then keep going. . . and going. By the end of the day, we are exhausted, but have 80% of our shopping complete! The next day, we wrap the gifts. The day after that whatever I didn’t find in a store, I buy online. D O N E!
This has worked for us. We stay on a reasonable spending plan, enjoy time with loved ones, and try to avoid stressful outcomes. Our goal is not to give our kids everything they want, but to raise responsible people who function well in society and get along with others. Remembering this goal in the Christmas season helps stay me on track and enjoy the holidays!