If the economy's putting a crimp in your finances this holiday season,
or you're growing weary of the materialistic aspect of Christmas, there are still plenty ways to celebrate and enjoy this holiday season, without feeling like the Grinch.
For some families, this is a very stressful time and changing traditions can be a major decision, particularly for children. Hopefully some of the ideas in this article can lesson the impact of an unplanned shift in your Christmas gift giving.
Things You Will NeedOpen mind
Step 1Relax. Start by putting a positive spin on things. Enjoy the prospect of no weekends spent at crowded malls or shopping centers. And no surprise credit card bills in January.
Instead, focus on non-monetary ways to enjoy this holiday season. 'Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed.
Step 2Talk. Get the whole family involved. You might find pockets of resistance, especially with the younger crowd, to the prospect of no presents under the tree. If the reasons for no purchases are financial, explain them in generalities to kids who may not understand the big picture, and ask everyone's help in making this season successful for the family. Ask for ideas; kids are resourceful in surprising ways.
Step 3Look. Grab the local paper, do an online search, listen to the radio or television for free or inexpensive holiday programs. Many churches put on Handel's Messiah for the public. Check out local music schools and university music departments for events. Head to the museum for an afternoon of culture. Get out and enjoy the fresh air with your family.
Step 4Donate. You can still give without spending. Do you have gently used but good condition toys, games or clothing? Now is the time to donate to local charities, churches and organizations that help the less fortunate. You might also take a tour through your kitchen cupboards or pantry for extra canned goods to donate to your local food pantry.
Step 5Volunteer. Give what you do have....yourself. Do you have talent? Play a musical instrument? Sing? Contact local elderly care facilities or child care centers and ask if they might like a caroling session or an hour of piano or guitar music. If you bake, a plate of cookies to a neighbor or the postal carrier can go a long way this time of year to keep the holiday spirit going for you and the lucky cookie recipient.
Step 6Gift swap. Consider a gift swap...with what you already have. Offer to lend your daughter your favorite sweater for a weekend, or the kids can swap games with each other, or you. This idea requires a dose of common sense and respect, for each other and the belongings. But you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Step 7Continue. Keep your holiday traditions alive. Get the tree, decorate the cookies, hang the ornaments. You're still celebrating the season, so there's no reason not to show it.
Step 8Add. Perhaps this is a good year to start a new family tradition...plan a potluck with neighbors or a progressive dinner with family and friends. Decorate an evergreen tree outside rather than in with edibles for the birds. Explore holiday foods or traditions from other countries. Have a snowball fight after Christmas dinner. The Holidays can still be joyful even without exchanging gifts. The joy of the season lives within us, not through material gifts.
Tips & Warnings
* Make sure the little ones understand that no presents under the tree does not mean they were bad. Some concessions may need to be made for those old enough to expect presents, but not old enough to understand why they're not getting any. You'll have to be the judge on that age.
* Gift cards. Be aware that there are downfalls to buying gift cards. Most will lose value if not used by a certain date, by fees deducted over time. Some are limited to specific locations. Be careful and read the fine print.