The holiday season is upon us. It's that wonderful time of the year. I love Christmas! But I must confess, I get a bit cynical because of the consumerism that accompanies this season.
Last year the average American spent more than $900 on Christmas gifts. The average shopper spent $300 during the Thanksgiving weekend alone, and it wasn’t for the turkey dinner. Retailers make a good portion of their yearly profits during this season, so I can't blame them for doing what they can to get our attention.
Advertising works. When for weeks you're exposed to hundreds if not thousands of ads and commercials enticing you to spend, it tends to wear you down. Then there's the expectations of our friends and family to partake in these gift exchanges. It's no wonder most of us spend more than we originally plan for Christmas.
How can you resist this tidal wave of consumerism?
Remember what this season is really about
Christmas is not primarily about buying stuff. I like the expression of generosity that’s synonymous with celebrating Christmas. It's an important part of the season. I love seeing my family express joy and then gratitude as they receive something they wanted or longed for. But that’s not the FOCUS of Christmas.
Christmas is about a baby that was born more than 2000 years ago. He came as a gift from God to all humanity. It’s a gift that’s offered still to every person. You can’t earn this gift and you can’t buy it, you just receive it.
For me, giving and receiving reminds me of this ultimate gift. And it just wouldn't be Christmas without giving! But there are ways to enjoy this season without overspending and putting yourself in a financially difficult position.
4 ways to keep your joy this holiday season, without going broke:
1. Grab bag it!
Doing a gift grab bag is a great option to keep gift-giving in check. You still get to enjoy giving gifts but without the stress and financial toll. In the end, what we all really want and desire more than gifts is connecting and spending time with the ones we love, and that, my friends, is priceless.
2. Set a reasonable amount for each gift
If you have a lot of family or friends you’re planning on buying a gift for, set a limit for each person. A $20 to $30 limit per person may mean you’ll need to be more creative in choosing a gift, but it’s worth it if it keeps you from going into debt.
3. Don’t go into permanent debt to make someone temporarily happy
I don’t know anyone that would want a friend or a family member to go into debt just so they can receive a gift. If you don’t have the cash to buy gifts this year, don’t. I know how scary that sounds, but I assure you the scarier part is you choosing to use your credit cards and finance Christmas gifts for months or years to come. Speak to your loved ones and let them know your situation. Then find a creative and free way to let them know how much you care about them.
You may be surprised to find out that your friends and family will probably be just as relieved as you are to forgo financing Christmas gifts.
4. Do the one thing that matters the most
Give of yourself. In keeping with the true message of Christmas, look for an opportunity to do something for someone who cannot do it for themselves. You may find that giving really is better than receiving, making for a holiday season you will not soon forget.
What are you doing to combat the message of consumerism and keep your holiday spirit this Christmas season?