I know a lot of people are worried right now. Most of the worry stems from the economic problems we’re all facing. I’ve read several iReports about people feeling bad because they can’t afford to do a lot for Christmas this year. I have a few ideas that could help!
1. Make things. You don’t have to be super creative to follow some of the great instructions you can find online! Some arts and crafts stores have sales on absolutely beautiful kits – and since you’re laid off anyway, why not pass the time efficiently?
Some of you may be thinking “but making gifts is so 18th century and childish.” Ask around. You may be surprised!
For the last several years, both my family and my husband’s have used the following 2 suggestions. They’re both inexpensive and FUN!
2. Draw names. Everyone who wants to participate puts their name in a cup (bowl, hat, whatever). The names have to be folded very small so people can’t read through the paper and cheat! Each person whose name is in the hat takes a name at random. If they get their own name, or that of their spouse, they have to draw again. The whole idea is to get another family member’s name. We usually put a limit of $25 per gift so no one really goes overboard!
3. Chinese Christmas. My favorite Christmas Gift Exchange game! Everyone who wants to participate brings a gift without a name on it. When all family members and gifts are accounted for, count them and put the numbers on a folded piece of paper. Put the folded papers into a cup (bowl, hat, whatever is available). Each person takes 1 number.
Let’s say for this example there are 15 gifts. The person who drew number 15 goes first. They scope out gifts and take the one they think looks the best and open it. Then the person who drew number 14 can either take number 15’s gift or choose a new one from under the tree. The person who drew number 13 can either take one of the gifts previously opened or take another from under the tree and so forth. When you get to number 1, that person can either take any of the 14 previously opened gifts or take the final mystery gift!
Just like drawing names, you should set a dollar limit on the gifts. It makes it much more fair and fun! You’d be surprised how many great gifts you can buy for $10-$15!! You’ve seen those great little digital photo albums women can carry in their purse or men can carry in their wallet? Fifteen bucks! And that’s a cheap one that has a 1 gigabyte storage capacity!
4. Ask people what they want. I know, we’re supposed to already know, right? WRONG! Ask people what they’d like to have. Two years ago I asked my step-dad what my mom wanted; he told me a coffee maker. I found the exact one she wanted for $30 or so. I’m sure you’ve seen it, it’s the one that makes 1-2 travel cups so she could just grab one cup while getting ready for work and the other cup on her way out the door. Do you think she liked it? I mean come on, I only spent thirty bucks on my own mother?!?! She LOVED it and still uses it.
The same Christmas, she had made all of us quilts! They’re amazing! Nice thick, handmade quilts – not the cheap thin ones you buy in the bed-in-a-bag. Do you think we looked at them and said “gee, thanks, you made us something cheap”?
People love the fact that you took the time to get them what they wanted or needed instead of some random gift you thought they might like.
Do you know someone who owns their own home business? Have you considered buying them a desk organizer set or a great mouse pad with a picture of their kids or dog on it? Maybe a mouse pad with a picture of their parents or grandparents? Something sentimental goes a long way in showing how well you know someone and care about them.
Christmas doesn’t have to break the bank! Get creative and make the best of it. ‘Tis the season to be happy, not blue. Instead of spending whatever amount you WANT to spend, focus on spending as little as you can but getting quality gifts in the process.
Take it from someone who’s been on a strict budget for more than 10 years! It’s definitely doable and can be more fun than the usual spending spree. I know. I’ve done both!