Christmas Ideas for Cheap
“ Save money this Christmas”!
This seems to be the latest buzz-word for 2009 holiday season that is quickly coming upon us. With so many articles on “saving”, they all seem to offer similar advice. They tell you how you can buy lots of stuff, for a lot of people, and save “up to 50%”. This advice may still leave some of us in the dust, however, when it comes to buying for a large number of people, especially when factoring in what I call, “the competition thing”. I’m sure I am not the only one who has experienced this.
How many of you have that one relative or friend who always buys everyone elaborate, over-the-top gifts? Not only are they flamboyant, so is the wrapping. The package is wrapped in thick, metallic paper with perfect corner creases; adorned with beautiful 12-inch wire-mesh gossamer bows, dangling with bells; tree-shaped, silver ornaments; topped with large sprigs of fake evergreen…no detail missed. Even the tag is made of handmade paper, lined with parchment, and elegantly penned in calligraphy. How do you compete with that when you show up with your little brown bags stamped with snowmen that contain jars of your homemade jam you put-up this summer? Oh, "but it shouldn’t be a competition", you say, "It’s the thought that counts".
Theoretically I agree with you. It shouldn’t…spirit of Christmas and all. But you feel the stares, and hear the snickers as your gift is opened right after your sister-in-law opened her “fancy-shiny-fandangle with the gold-bobbles” on it…and then says, “thaaaaannnnks, sis. How sweet…yummy jam. Oh, and look everyone at the cute little raffia tag, it has my name written with little circles on the ends of each letter”…”well, that is just special, dontcha think”? Hmmm...yes, special. Time to bring in the big guns.
I call this the “great gift equalizer”
First, it requires everyone be notified in advance (this works best if you are the host, if not, you will need to collaborate with them). Send out an invitation NOW to all your friends and family who will attend your Christmas celebration.
The idea is one gift per person. If you are a couple, without any children, you buy two gifts- one for you and one for your spouse. If you are a family of seven, you will purchase seven gifts…get the idea? The beauty of this is the "equalization factor". You also will set a limit on the maximum each gift can cost. This gives assurance that no one gets an” X-Box”, while another gets a little basket of soaps from the dollar store. I personally like to limit it at twenty-five dollars. You know your family, however, and this may still be a stretch for some.
Here are a few other possibilities:
- Homemade Gifts Only
- Food Items Only
- White Elephants (used items)
- Weird, Wacky Joke Gifts (like air in a can).
- Gifts of service like babysitting or washing a car
The next thing you do is wrap the gifts and label according to gender and age. If you are an adult male, you label it “for an adult male”, or if for a child, label “male child”. This way everyone gets an appropriate gift. On the day of your gathering, the gift process becomes a game that some of you are probably familiar with. Here are the steps:
- · Have all gifts in one spot- usually under the tree.
- · Write numbers on slips of paper, fold, and put in a basket (there is one number per person)
- · Have each person pick a number
- · The person with number “one” goes first…they pick a gift from the pile.
- · They open the gift
- · Now it’s number “two’s” turn
- · They do the same as number “one”, however, they have the option of either taking the gift from number “one”, or picking a wrapped gift from under the tree.
- · After that number “three” goes. Number “three’ can choose number “one’s” opened gift or number “two’s”, or an wrapped gift from the selection.
- · This goes on until you get to the last person and the last gift. The last person can choose from any of the opened gifts or the last gift under the tree.
- · Once a gift has been “stolen” twice, on the third owner, the gift is frozen and can’t be taken again- it is safe.
This game has several benefits. The number one as I mentioned is the idea that it equalizes the playing field. The second is, it takes a lot more time, and is very entertaining! People can get feisty over that $25 Starbucks gift card they don’t want to lose in the swap. The other is, it helps keep the focus, and attention off the fact that you are struggling this year, and can’t afford twenty five gifts for all your relatives (some you only see once a year). It is a super way to just relax, enjoy each other, forget about who-has-what, and love the time you have with friends and family.
So this Holiday season forget about 50% off. Go for the fun instead. Have a blessed, stress free, Merry Christmas! It really is the thought that counts!
I have to run now...my berry jam is boiling all over the stove.
What do you do to have a "Stress Free" Christmas?
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