This is not a time to keep up a pretense of wealth and “anything goes”. Everyone knows we are in a recession and although not everyone suffers equally, it is well understood that only the foolish spend money unwisely during such a time.
Explain to family members that expectations in the gift department must be lowered for a recession Christmas. This doesn’t mean the tree will be bare. Instead, ask your family to come up with creative alternatives to spending a lot of money on gifts. Some examples might include:
- Secret Santa.
- Homegrown favorite herbs, flowers, citrus, ferns, etc. You can plant your herbs in recycled cans (the kind peas & carrots come in).
- Baked goods – homemade cakes, cookies, preserves, jams, chow chow and pepper sauce, are ideal gifts. Not only are they tasty but family members can get really creative making these and team spirit can also prevail if several members get into the kitchen at once and there are lots of videos on the internet to show you how it is done!
- Wrapping paper and gift tags can be made at home. Not only is this budget-conscious but it’s way more fun than buying gift wrap and cards from the store. There are so many possibilities: drawings, photos, stickers, stamping, finger-painting, collages, recycling – how about a few croton leaves on a brown paper bag as a gift bag. Get creative and get the kids chatting with one another as you create your cards and wrapping.
- Many Christmas spreads overdo the food, and there are plenty leftovers. Skip that mentality and only make enough for the day; reduce the size of the turkey. Cut out the expensive food items. Do you really need imported cranberry sauce? What about a sorrel sauce instead? (Check simplytrinicooking.com for a recipe). Use seasonal vegetables and fruit – diced pommerac in the salad rather than apples and grapes? Five finger (carambola) vs kiwi?
- It is even more important to take care of yourself. Reduce your stress levels. Turn off the news! While it is important to keep abreast of national and global happenings too much can cause stress levels to rise. Turn off the news and turn on the Christmas music! If something of great national import happens someone will be sure to call you. A few days news free can be very helpful. Turn it off and tune it out. Eat properly. Get plenty of sleep and reserve some personal and family quiet time – will the curtains die if you hang them another day? You’ll feel better and so will everyone else around you.
- This year make a conscious effort to celebrate the holiday in ways that bring happiness and meaning to yourself and your family without creating more debt for the New Year. Put away the credit cards. This can be very hard for some. For many of us plastic has become a life preserver lending a false sense of security for a short period. No gift feels so good that it justifies bad feelings brought on by debt at the beginning of a new year.
Focus on family and the fun of the Season. By planning ahead, managing spending, being creative and enjoying time together as a family the holidays will become ones you won’t soon forget. We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a debt-free New Year!
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“A wealthy person is simply someone who has learned how to make money when they’re not working.” – Robert Kiyosaki