The Holiday Season has arrived, but this year it is causing panic. The economy is shaky and most of us simply don’t have the same financial resources as in years past. Many Americans have lost their jobs, depleted their retirement savings, or fallen victim to the housing crisis.
This recession is also a wake-up call. People are re-evaluating their spending habits and lavish lifestyles. Do we really need to have that $3 latte every day? Or dine out every day of the week? Buy a new clothing item every week? Men and women spend billions of dollars every year in items they will never use. Instead, this money could have been invested wisely.
Don’t let the economy rob you of the joy of this Holiday season. Instead, look at the positive side. I would like to promote a new gift this year: your time. Yes, give your time and spend it with the people you love the most. During the Holiday Season, families come together and get to catch up with those they haven’t seen for a while. Together, explore the true meaning of Christmas. Sit down with your children and teach them more about your family traditions. You may also choose to discuss the value of money, the difference between saving and spending, or the fact there are millions of children around the world who receive nothing during this time.
Giving and receiving gifts is really exciting. Don’t let the economic downturn keep you from giving. Think of ways you can create affordable gifts. I created a short list of 15 ideas you can use or get inspiration from, as you gear up this season. Some of these gifts may require a little extra thought and time, but they will be treasured and remember forever!
15 ideas for Creative and Low-Cost Holiday Gifts:
- Write a song or a poem. Frame, Sing, or Read it. Encourage your children to do a family show.
- Make a Quote Book. Add some pictures or other artwork.
- Burn CDs for friends and family with their favorite music. Or introduce them to artists you think they will also find enjoyable.
- Make a Journal for 2009. Fill it with inspiring quotes, photos, or sketches.
- Make some Coupons. i.e. free car wash, computer repair, homemade dinner, picnic date, Lord of the Rings movie day, etc.
- Bake something like a pie, home-made cookies, or some other dessert you are good at! Wrap it up and you are good to go! Include your recipe too!
- Make a Recipe Book. Mix your own family recipes with those from magazines, newspapers, grandma’s, or the web.
- Make a Brunch at home. Be the Chef and the Server and pamper your guests!
- Make a homemade card. Have your child be the artist and scribble on the cover.
- Give a family portrait or another nice photo. Frame it. Wrap it.
- Give a White Elephant! Re-gift a gift you once received, but don’t use or enjoy much. Wrap it up and give it to someone who will really enjoy it!
- Create a Scrapbook.
- Buy a magazine subscription for someone. That person will remember you every issue.
- Give the gift of volunteering. Pick a non-profit or cause you believe in and give your time.
- Surprise your family or friends with a Christmas Carol at their home. That’s a gift in itself!
Think about your creative talents and wrap them up! There is nothing more meaningful than receiving a gift made for you specifically. Give something that has meaning and communicates that you have put thought into the gift.
With the economy shutting stores all over the world, keep in mind ALL stores open (and surviving the economic crisis) WANT your money. Keep a sound perspective when shopping this Holiday Season and resist the urge to pull out the plastic and buy that gift (for you or others) that you really cannot afford right now. It is not a good time to run up credit card debt.
There is more to the Holiday Season than giving and receiving gifts. It should not be about money. Make it a far more special holiday for you and your loved ones.
My best wishes to all this Holiday Season!