Is it just me, or does Christmas seem to come earlier and earlier each year? I don’t mean the actual day, December 25, as the standard date set aside to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Instead, I am referring to the idea that every year, retail stores seem to start their Christmas displays earlier and earlier.
I walked into a national pharmacy in September of this year and was inundated with all the wrappings and trappings of the Christmas season. Retail stores are all vying for my hard-earned money these days, and I know I won’t part with my money as easily as I used to.
I love giving good gifts to my loved ones. I love seeing their faces when they open something that truly surprises and thrills them. I used to be the Christmas marketer’s best customer! I was constantly shopping, concerned that I needed to find the perfect gift for someone. By the time December 25 arrived, I was simply a frazzled mess with a huge credit card bill.
Thankfully, years ago, we worked ourselves out of a mountain of debt, and in that process, I had to learn creative ways to give good gifts that still thrilled. After all, homeschoolers are known for their creativity, right? The best change in that process was the change in my own heart. I no longer feel the panic that Christmas marketing can instill. Instead, I take my time, enjoy a peace-filled season, and still get the thrill of giving good gifts.
Here are three simply profound ways to make your holidays more peace-filled and less expensive.
Make It Early
Since Christmas is always the twenty-fifth day of December, consider scheduling at least one holiday activity early in the month.
For over twenty-five years, my sisters-in-law have done a community cookie bake. Every participant brings ingredients to make several batches of their favorite holiday desserts, and every participant leaves with a wide variety of yummy treats that can be frozen until it’s time to give them as gifts to teachers, neighbors, and friends.
If you are not a baking family, perhaps your family would prefer a Christmas craft day in early December. Pinterest is full of easy and inexpensive crafts that make fantastic gifts. Your family could spend a day creating and crafting, and you could have gifts ready to hand out all month.
Make It Memorable
Have you ever noticed that the things you purchase often break, get lost, or are relegated to a closet? Why not create inexpensive memories instead? Consider this part of the financial management that you want to teach your children. Here are some creative ways to give your loved one a memory or two that they’ll cherish.
- Consider giving your child 12 envelopes with monthly date ideas inside and they’ll have an entire year’s worth of dates to look forward to.
- Search resale stores for random accessories to create a costume box that will be used over and over again to make fun family memories.
- Toss around the idea of trading your extended family gift-giving for a fun game night or “white elephant” gift exchange where everyone brings a dish to pass and laughter is the main ingredient for the evening.
Make It Thoughtful
A few minutes of planning can save you more than a few pennies in spending. A thoughtful gift for your loved one will mean far more to them than a last-minute purchase on Amazon.
- Perhaps they have a favorite author and are missing a few books in their personal library. Used book sites are a great place to find something they will really love!
- Consider giving your time to a neighbor, friend, or elderly relative. The ideas are endless. You could wrap up a deck of cards with a note that says “I’m looking forward to a fun evening of games. I’ll bring snacks.” Or write out several coupons that say things like, “A coffee date on me!” or “One free day of lawn mowing.” Make it even more special by getting your kids involved!
- Use your gifts and abilities to offer free lessons. If you are an excellent baker, maybe your niece or nephew would want to learn how to make homemade bread? Or, if you sew, maybe your sister or daughter would want to learn? This is a great opportunity for homeschooling parents to share their expertise with each other. Again, the possibilities are endless. It just takes a little time to think it through, and not only will you be giving them a new skill but also you’ll be giving them time with you.
Even though Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier in the retail world, you can walk into this season with a plan. You may have ended your formal school lessons for the year, but homeschooling our children is a lifestyle choice and there are always lessons to be learned through daily life. With a little thought and preparation, the holidays can cost less, and your heart can be more peace-filled.