After many repeated years of mindless fire drills that come with every school year, it’s hard to take the threat of a real fire seriously. Because fires are typically preventable disasters, it feels like preparation is unnecessary. These reasons, combined with the “it’ll never happen to me” mentality, leave most of us completely unaware and unprepared for what happens if it actually does happen to us.
Last year was my son’s first Christmas, and the whole family went a little overboard with the baby toys. Keenan was so overwhelmed by the towering stack of gifts that he left the party mid-morning to take a nap. And after spending all that money on expensive, brand-new toys, his favorite gifts were the cheap stocking stuffers that I had picked up last minute.
This year, we’re cutting back. We bought many of Keenan’s presents secondhand, and instead of putting toys on his Christmas list, we’re encouraging relatives to contribute to his college fund. Christmas is expensive enough as it is, and when you’ve got a lot of people to buy for, the spending can get out of control really easily.
Have you ever felt pressured by the prospect of receiving a pricey gift from a relative? Have you been embarrassed because you felt that you didn’t spend enough? These feelings are pretty common. If you’re struggling to keep up with your relatives, here are some ways to spend less on gifts by getting your family to spend less too.
Instead of purchasing 25 different gifts for 25 different relatives, draw names so that each person only has to buy gifts for one individual. Try doing a “Secret Santa Style” Christmas this year. Have each family member draw a name from a hat. Agree on a budget. This way, each person gets one nice gift from their Secret Santa instead of a dozen small gifts from everyone else. It’s a great way to make the whole family adhere to a spending limit.
Tell it like it is
Let your family know that the budget is tight or that you don’t want to spend a lot on gifts. Don’t be embarrassed by budget restrictions. Let them know your spending plan for the holiday, and if they’re agreeable, set a spending limit. They may choose to follow the budget, or they may prefer to spoil you with expensive presents. Either way, being open and honest with your relatives will allow you to feel less flustered by spending discrepancies.
Make it about the kids
Getting gifts is nice, but for most adults, it’s just the icing on the cake. Kids are another story: new toys are usually the main focus of Christmas morning. Make a family rule that no one over the age of 18 should expect to receive gifts. This allows you to spoil your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews without the added pressure of spending money on the adults in your family. What’s more, you’ll have a lot more time to experience the delight of the children as they open their presents on the big day.
There’s no better way to lighten the mood on Christmas morning than to show up with a few gag gifts. There are quite a few ways to do a White Elephant gift exchange, but here’s the basic process.
- Each person buys and wraps a gag gift or a hand-me-down item
- The participants each choose a gift at the exchange
- The fun ensues as people unwrap and trade or steal gifts from each other
You might not get exactly what’s on your list, but White Elephant exchanges are a great way to enjoy Christmas with minimal spending and a lot of laughs.
Gift family to family
Extended families can really break the bank when it comes to gift giving. Think about gifting to family units instead of individual people. Purchase board games or family movies instead of presents for each child and adult. Buying something that can be appreciated by a whole family will ensure that your holiday budget stays on track.
Christmas spending can easily get out of control. If you’re concerned about the amount of money you’re expected to spend, make some suggestions to your family so that you won’t feel embarrassed or left out on Christmas morning.
What gift-giving traditions does your family partake in? Share with other Zing readers in the comments below.