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Friends, Christmas is less than a month away, can you believe it?!
If you’re anything like me, you had to first enjoy Thanksgiving before delving into the Christmas mindset. The day after Thanksgiving, my family decorated our home for Christmas and we just can’t help but feel festive these days!
Everyone’s holiday traditions are different. But chances are, you exchange gifts with your friends and family members, or at least give your children some gifts under the Christmas tree.
In the spirit of slowing down and being mindful of our lifestyle, I’d like to offer 3 ways to make a strategic Christmas list and to avoid buying presents just to buy presents.
In case you’re worried that “strategy” doesn’t sound very “Christmas-y,” do not fear!
“Strategic” is defined as, “relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.” Being strategic doesn’t mean removing joy and generosity from gift-giving. In fact, using some strategy this time of year actually means you’re being mindful and thoughtful of your purchasing and giving for ultimate satisfaction and peace of mind!
Using a Strategic Christmas List to Ward Off Materialism:
As part of a generation who has access to a lot of “means” and “stuff” our parents didn’t have access to, it has become waaaaaay too easy to bombard our kids and other loved ones with each and every item they happen to fancy over the past year. As part of the intentional lifestyle movement, I propose warding off this foray into materialism by investing in experiences rather than so many physical gifts.
For example, you may purchase a membership to a local children’s museum or recreational center that can be enjoyed throughout the year. By finding an activity or day trip you can do as a family, you are creating a bonding experience you can both look forward to, and reflect back on!
If you want to take this one step further, look for opportunities in which you and your family can serve individuals in need on or around Christmas. One year not long ago, my husband, daughter, parents, and I all served Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter. We also made home deliveries to several families from our church who would otherwise not have gifts to share with their kiddos on Christmas morning. Make it part of your family culture seek ways to serve others and to take the focus off yourselves.
This is an organic way to teach our own kids to reject materialism!
Using a Strategic Christmas List to Stick to a Tight Budget:
Let’s face it, despite the best-laid plans, Christmas can sneak up on us! You may have done a commendable job setting aside a certain amount of money each month during the year, to be used to purchase holiday gifts. But then, the car/refrigerator/furnace dies in mid-December, just as you were ready to start your shopping.
Friends, don’t be dismayed, life happens! It is so important to not fall into the trap of allowing our current circumstances to dictate our mood and frame of mind. Remember, your kids (and others!) are always observing how we react and act in trying situations. Be serious about your priorities! If you say family comes first, don’t let a dip in your bank account ruin your precious family time! It’s just not that important! We’re on a journey toward intentional living, right? If this happens to be your reality this year, you can still have a very joyful season!
Tip #1: Take a few moments to identify holes in your wardrobe or in your child’s toy box. Ask yourself, “What keys items would add the most value to your current set of belongings?” “What would bring you the most joy for the least amount of money?”
For example, you may take stock of your closet and realize that you honestly have your major pieces in place, but could use a yellow scarf, a pair of blue ballet flats, a leopard print bracelet, and a pair of fuzzy earmuffs. It’s not that you’re discontent without these (relatively inexpensive) items, but if you added them to your wardrobe, you’d be able to mix and match the other pieces you already have in another 10 additional ways!
The same goes for your kids’ toys and electronics. Think about what specific games or accessories would add value to their existing toys and equipment. Focus on these lower-cost items that multiple in value in combination with items you’ve already take care to curate!
Tip #2: Another way to save money while Christmas shopping is to focus on quality over quantity. If you have our eye on one specific, expensive handbag, let that be your one splurge! Do not worry about the number of presents with your name on them under the tree. If your present is THE ONE, you’ll be more grateful for it and its use value will more than pay for itself!
For example, if you buy one purse (THE ONE) for $150, and you use it every day of the year, its use value (price per use) is .41 cents per day. Whereas, if you were to purchase an “ok” purse for $50 and end up using it for 2 months during the year then toss it aside, its use value would be .83 cents. In effect, it’s costing you more (per day) than the more expensive option.
Tip #3: One final way to mind your budget at Christmas is to consider secondhand shopping for presents, or even swapping outgrown toys and clothing with friends and neighbors. We secondhand shop all year and are proud of our fantastic finds, why not at Christmas?
Using a Strategic Christmas List to Create Meaning and Encourage Minimalism:
Here’s really neat idea to try at Christmastime:
Whether you have a large or small family, each family member would receive (only) 4 Christmas gifts. One gift would be something that each individual needed, another gift was something he or she wanted, the next gift was a something to wear, and the fourth gift was a book.
What a fantastic way for parents to thoughtfully consider what would be best to buy for each of their kiddos, and for one another! And what a fantastic way for each kid to be smart about what they ask for! I can only speculate that these kids would take care of their new items well throughout the year, not because this family couldn’t necessarily afford to buy more “stuff” for their kids, but because they wanted them to appreciate what they had and to attach meaning to what they own.
Don’t be afraid to be a little “counter culture” with your family’s Christmas traditions! This is your opportunity to communicate to your kids what is truly important without saying a word!
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Gracia y paz,