With Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa practically right around the corner, we all have to make the decision to choose another year of filling the corporate coffers or going for a simpler, more meaningful holiday. We can decide to have a holiday that will just say no to the credit card debt that hangs around months after the holiday has come and gone. We can decide to have a holiday that will satisfy in ways of sharing that have nothing to do with the craziness that will soon begin at a mall near you (think Black Friday).
Here are a few alternatives to what the retailers are hoping you'll do this year. Any of them will help reduce the financial and emotional stress so common during this time of year and will bring you back to the real essence of the holidays.
Plan a holiday meal (maybe a potluck?) for friends and family. This can even go as far as becoming a meal for your whole church where everyone takes part, or for the neighbors on your street. When everyone chips in with his or her favorite dish, the sense of sharing is truly wonderful. Just the act of everyone sitting down together is spiritually uplifting. Your presence is the present.
Choose to "gift" a special family. Instead of stretching your budget to its limits and maybe even beyond, adopt a disadvantaged family in need of help for the holiday. You can usually find out about such families through church, work, or even your kids' school. This gift can be in the form of groceries, fixings for a holiday dinner, clothing and household goods, gift cards, or any combination of the above.
At home and work, opt for a Secret Santa or Pollyanna for gift giving. If you absolutely must experience the act of purchasing and wrapping a gift, this is a great way to still give but is inexpensive compared to having to buy for everyone. You can limit the amount to $10 (or whatever you all decide on) and even go with a theme, if you like. Also, with only one gift per person, everyone will pay more attention when gifts are opened.
Make a contribution to your favorite charity or organization. There are so many agencies that depend on our donations to keep them afloat; you can surely find one you think is worthy of your money. Instead of a large national organization, you may even be able to come up with something in your own backyard that offers a closer, more satisfying feeling of community.
Send a gift box or boxes to our troops overseas. Check the Internet. There are many sites dedicated to this type of giving, many with good ideas of what to send. The whole family or your work family can put together fantastic gifts of homemade items, as well as other needed gifts to make our troops feel appreciated and remembered at holiday time.
So, now that we've got the ball rolling with some ideas of what you can do to save money and feel great during the holiday season, maybe you can think up a few more that will become traditions in your family. These will not only teach your children to appreciate the value of a dollar but think of giving and receiving in less materialistic terms.
Take the Next Step:
Vow that this year you'll try to get back to the real essence of the holidays. Try a few of these alternatives to what the retailers are hoping you'll do this year. In doing so, you'll reduce the financial and emotional stress so common during this time of year.
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