Making a Nice Christmas on a Budget

December is here and that means we are all getting ready to celebrate the most awaiting festival of the year called “MERRY CHRISTMAS”. We hope you have already planned to celebrate it with your family and friends. But you should be little caution about a proper budgeting. To avoid huge credit card payments in January, here are a few ideas for making financial responsibility a family affair this Christmas.

BUDGET

Budget the gift giving. Decide how much your family will spend during this holiday season. Encourage extended-family gatherings to reduce costs. Tell your children how much they can expect to receive and ask them to work their wish lists to fit within the budget (number of gifts or dollar value).

Create a wish list. Ask kids to cut out items from magazines or catalogs, and glue them to a piece of cardstock. Stick it to the refrigerator, and as you get closer to Christmas, ask them to narrow their choices, based on the budget you have set.

Give one, get one free. We all have items we know we need to purchase throughout the year. There is nothing wrong with going double-duty at Christmas. Consider giving basketball shoes, dance accessories, piano music or guitar tuner. It is nice to have extra things to open, and you will need to buy them anyway.

Buy pre-owned. Especially for small children, buy pre-owned. While new may make a difference to preteens, we have never met an infant, toddler or preschooler who looked at tags. You can get some items for pennies on the dollar at stores such as Good Will, Savers, Salvation Army, or garage sales. Then work out a coop with your friends so you can rotate the toys. Your kids will never miss them while the trucks and Legos entertain another toddler for a while.

Think outside of the gift-box. Consider gifts that provide future opportunity to do something fun. These can be low-dollar gifts like “DQ trip with Dad” or “free movie/game rental” or high-dollar items, like concerts or museum field trips. Older kids may appreciate a gift certificate to use during the after-Christmas sales instead. Even a shopping spree at a second-hand store will be well appreciated by kids who understand the bargains to be found.

TIME

Shop one-to-one. Make special time to shop with your child to purchase gifts for siblings, spouse or grandparents. Encourage your child to participate in choosing the gift. Shopping can be a joy for kids, even if they receive nothing material at the end of the trip.

Find fun without presents. At large family gatherings discover other ways to entertain besides giving gifts. Most kids would be thrilled to play board games, make crafts, watch movies or play Bunko for a white elephant gift exchange.

Start a family tradition. The holiday season is really built on traditions. Whether yours involves baking a ham or helping at the homeless shelter, reestablish it this year. Help out at the church benefit, the soup kitchen, bell-ringing or caroling at the nursing home. Take a drive to see the Christmas lights, watch a holiday parade, bake krumkake or make lefse. Those memories will live on generations after the broken toys take up permanent residence in a landfill.

We wish you all a healthy wealthy Merry Christmas!

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