There are approximately 55 shopping days left until Christmas. The stores are already displaying Christmas trees and decorations and in about ten days, the holiday commercials will start airing on TV and radio. Are you ready? According to recent polls, this year about one third of Americans say they plan to spend less on Christmas this year than last. For those of you with kids, you will be excited to know that this year’s hot toy is Kota an animated dinosaur that will go for $300! Take a look at the video below.
In all seriousness, many people suggest that Christmas has become entirely too commercial and that we have lost the true meaning of the holiday. I agree with most of that sentiment, but still believe that Christmas can be a wonderful time of year to spend extra time with your family and friends (and yes, spend a little extra money too).
1. Don’t Expect As Many ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ Options This Year
From what we are being told from major corporations, they don’t have the cash on hand to extend credit to their customers. They don’t even have enough operating capital to properly stock the store shelves. This may be a good thing, requiring customers to pay for their purchases and not allowing 90 days the same as cash and other extended payment options. Even if store credit is available, I would strongly recommend that you don’t celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior by going into financial bondage. If you can’t afford to pay cash for an item, don’t buy it.
2. Create A Christmas Budget And Stick To it
An easy way to plan your Christmas shopping is to establish a grand total of what you plan to spend on gifts. Next, make a list of everyone you plan to purchase a gift for and allocate a dollar amount toward each gift. If you stay within your overall spending limit, everything should work out as planned. I would suggest creating your list as soon as possible, since you will likely forget some names if you try and formulate the list at the last minute. Another good idea is to add to your list two to three extra gifts to have in reserve in the event that you get a last minute invitation to a Christmas party, or otherwise need a gift on short notice. On the subject of Christmas lists, I want to share with you my daughter Joy singing a song that may give you pause when creating your own list. Click on play on the player below.
I also have to pass along a story that makes me cry every time I think about it. Several years ago, a man called during my nationally syndicated radio show and told me that one year he had no money to buy Christmas gifts for his family. He explained that he and his wife and his children all agreed to write a letter to each family member sharing what they appreciated and loved about that person in lieu of any gifts that Christmas. As the man’s voice began to crack as he was overcome by emotion, he explained that this was the greatest Christmas his family ever had. He went on to share that although many Christmas’ had come and gone, that those letters were the most wonderful gift that each of them had ever received. I remember wiping a few tears away from my own eyes after hearing this story. I still think frequently of this man, his call to my show, and how it changed forever how I think of Christmas. How many neckties are never worn, how many food processors never used, but these letters will be cherished forever.
3. Look For Bargains This Year Throughout The Entire Season
Due to the poor economy, retailers are already very aggressively pricing their inventory. I don’t believe that you are going to have to wait for any special sales to find incredible bargains. My best advice is to keep an on eye prices for the items on your list and be ready to jump on a deal when you see it. I still expect to see the traditional day after Thanksgiving sales (Black Friday), and discounts a day or two before Christmas. Nonetheless, due to the faltering economy I would look for very competitive prices throughout the entire shopping season this year. I would definitely comparison shop and include online retailers in your bargain hunting.
4. If You Are Short On Cash, Consider Giving Some Priceless Gifts Instead
There are many gifts that you can make and can actually be far more appreciated than those you purchase. One example of this that I have had great success with is photos. If you want to make someone’s Christmas, get out your digital camera and take some pictures, frame them, and you will have some gifts that will be very gratefully received. This is especially a wonderful thing to do for parents of younger children. Take a few pictures of their children, have them framed and you will be a hero this Christmas. Another thing you will find is that grandparents love to receive family pictures, especially those including their grandchildren. You can buy a nice frame for less than $10 and have the picture printed for a couple of bucks! This is about as low cost of a gift you are going to come by and it will be much more appreciated than a store bought trinket.
This is just my own do-it-yourself gift idea, I am sure you have ideas of your own (please list them in the comments sections below). Whether you can make a painting, knit a sweater, give a coupon for a free house cleaning, or just write a poem, it is truly the thought behind your gift that will be most appreciated. Among the most popular do-it-yourself gift ideas is creating your own gift basket. Fill it with fruit, maybe throw in a good book, a candle, put a bow on it – you’re done.
Here are some great links with ideas on inexpensive Christmas gifts:
Helping you make the most of God’s money!
Merry Christmas (Hey can we still say that?)