Every year around this time the media starts to report on holiday spending. This year the experts are predicting that consumer spending is going to be down. Itâ€™s not surprising really, thereâ€™s been a lot in the news about unemployment and growing consumer debt. I wonder if the â€œless is moreâ€ messageÂ is finally trickling down. Thereâ€™s little point to spending money we donâ€™t have. Bigger cars and bigger homes with bigger closets just result in bigger debt. Having more doesnâ€™t make us happy.
I guess it remains to be seen. We may spend less overall andÂ take more trips to the dollar store this year, or not. But I think that many consumers are feeling the pinch and just arenâ€™t as willing to spend as much as they didÂ before. And maybe theyâ€™re realizing that a small Christmas (in terms of gifts) can be just as nice as a big one.
Weâ€™re definitely scaling back this year. We are trying harder than ever to stick to a budget. Not only does this make sense for us from an economic perspective, but weâ€™re seriously running out of room to put things. Itâ€™s not like weâ€™re gingerly tiptoeing between gigantic piles (although thatâ€™s sometimes the case on laundry day) but our shelves and closets overfloweth. We live in a small house, built in a time when people just didnâ€™t need scads of storage space and Iâ€™ve inherited some of my motherâ€™s packrat tendencies (as illustrated by my previous post about card collecting). Gah!
So what can we do to make Christmas fun and memorable and also minimize the emphasis on stuff?
- Remember that quantity does not equal quality. Our kids will love us just as much if we gave themÂ half as manyÂ gifts.Â Itâ€™s true what they say about kids of a certain age just wanting to play with ribbons and boxes more so than with the gifts that come inside them!
- Donâ€™t dismiss the idea of giving second-hand goods. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with giving someone a thoughtful gift that has been pre-loved!Â Â Â
- Go to the library andÂ borrow a stack of beautiful books, CDs and DVDs to enjoy over the holidays and bring them back when youâ€™re done.
- Give â€œexperientialâ€ gifts – tickets to see a movie or a play, cooking or kayaking lessons, (whatever!), just think hard about what your recipient really enjoys doing.
- Give gifts of food and wine. Consumables only take up shelf space temporarily. (Unless it’s fruit cake.)
- A donation to charity in the recipientâ€™s name is an ideal gift for those who truly have everything. Â
On my own blog Iâ€™ve outlined something we do to celebrate Christmas. It helps us focus on the fun … all month long!
What about you? Are you tightening your belt this year, or is it business as usual under the Christmas tree? And what other ways can we make the holiday season cheap and cheerful?