It’s almost Black Friday. This time of year is more stressful than cheerful. As soon as I see the Christmas decor in October amongst the Halloween decor I let out a big sigh. I dread it.
Peace and Joy Season?
Note: This post is NOT about arguing for or against Christmas. You can do that over at my older post titled “12 Things I Like and Don’t Like About Christmas.” explaining our Christmas evolotion.
This post is how
Christmas Spending = STRESS
It is estimated that adults spend $500-$800 each year. Much of it is charged on credit cards causing hardships through the year. Holidays add an extra burden to people’s already tight budgets.
Christian’s may say “Jesus is the Reason” but their credit card bills will usually equal or may even surpass those of the non-Christians. Check out this video, not a Norman Rockwell Christmas–does not make me think of Jesus.
Large Family Christmas Stress
We have 11 children (3 living at home) and 14 grandchildren and lots of in-laws. If we budgeted a frugal $20.00 a person it would be well over $600. (And let’s get real, who spends $20 for Christmas on a child living at home?)
Do the Math
During this economy everyone is on a budget. Grandparents are on limited retirement incomes. I certainly don’t want my parents in their 70s worried about spending this Christmas.
“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings” ~Author unknown
What’s the Answer? Spend Less!
How can we celebrate the amazing, wonderful incarnation (God born as a human Jesus) without spending a lot of money?
Have a Family Meeting
Have a family meeting to discuss Christmas spending. Agree on a spending limit or have everyone make gifts. If everyone is doing it, it minimizes the spending pressure.
Homemade gifts are special and more treasured that store bought gifts. Be it crafts, baked gifts, photo albums everyone has a chance to express his or her self and his or her talent.
Talk to Extended Family Members
Explain that as a family, you’ve decided there will be less gift giving or only handmade gifts. You’ll be surprised how others will follow your lead. They just need someone to show them the way.
Rather than buying a gift certificate to a restaurant, why not give a coupon for dinner at your home instead?
Watch the movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story about love, pride, faith, and survival in rural America during the Great Depression. The Homecoming introduced the Walton family, a 1930s mountain clan living a hardscrabble existence. The children received hand knit items (scarves, mittens). It’s a beautiful moving story.
Ideas from Christmas’ Past
When you have a large family you have to get creative at Christmas. Here are a few ideas from our home:
- When all 4 children were under five years old, I was a broke single mother. We made a green construction paper tree on the wall and decorated it with ornaments made with scraps of notebook paper and popcorn garland. On Christmas morning we had a birthday cake for Jesus. Each child received a few dollar store trinkets.
- A few years later, I didn’t have money for dollar store gifts. I found someone giving away puppies in the newspaper.
- Even when our budget looked better, most years I sewed gifts: quilts, dresses, sweat suits, etc. I even made my dad a shirt one year.
- In the 70′s and 80s I asked for overripe bananas from the grocery produce department (I don’t think you can do this anymore) and made banana bread wrapped with tin foil and a red ribbon for gifts (my grandmother would go on and on about how it was the BEST banana bread she ever had).
- Cookie Swap: Baked items are always a hit: cookies, fudge, etc. Have a cookie swap with friends. Each person brings 6 or more dozen of the favorites cookies. Swap and and wrap the gifts to give on Christmas.
- For a few years we rented a house with a plum tree in the yard. It produced enough fruit to make dozens of jars of homemade preserves. I topped each with a small square of bright colored fabric and ribbon for adorable gifts.
- My parents still treasure gifts I made 30 years ago out of ceramics vases, jewelry boxes, and knickknacks.
- Last year we decorated every room in the house with homemade coffee filter snowflakes. The boys made them for several days.
- My parent say the best gift they ever received was a family scrapbook. I scanned in photos spanning 50 years into my computer and made a digital scrapbook. For ideas see my scrapbook blog.
Bring peace to this season by focusing on Christ. Then celebrate Jesus in every season by loving one another.
Give Your Idea for a Low Budget Christmas
I look forward to hearing your ideas.