A Budget for Christmas—What?!
by Lane Jordan
When we were children, Christmas was the ultimate time to receive gifts. By the time we saw what Santa had brought, checked out the stockings and opened all the presents, we were in gift heaven. However, most of our parents were probably in debt hell!
Did you know that almost twenty-three percent of people won’t be able to pay off their Christmas debt until March of the next year? This type of stress may take away from our worship and praise to the One we want to celebrate.
It is hard to resist all the beautiful and over-the-top Christmas decorations and presents and special foods that pull at us in every direction. And it gets worse every year. Fifty years ago, most families went out to a tree lot and bought one tree. Today, many families have at least three trees, for different rooms and decorated in different themes—they are usually artificial so they can be kept up for at least a month!
And with Christmas decorating and advertising beginning before Halloween, our senses become awakened sooner and we feel that we “need” everything. So, if we are going to set up a budget, I believe we need to start back at the beginning: Why do we even celebrate Christmas and how should we as Christians do that?
Think back to the very first Christmas. God provided everything for Mary and Joseph. He decorated the stable with a star, planned the guest list of angels and shepherds, sent gifts by way of the wisemen, and surrounded the young couple with two who already loved their son, Anna and Simeon, during baby Jesus’ dedication to God.
So now, what must Jesus think of all this over-the-top commercialism? It makes us stop and wonder what we should do to be a part of the birthday celebration without overdoing it. And we need to decide how we can honor the One whose birthday we are celebrating.
Plan your Christmas budget with the finances you can spare.
I believe this is one of the most important steps to take before we even buy one gift or decoration. We are responsible for being good stewards of the finances God has given us, and budgeting for Christmas couldn’t be a better time to do this. Even if you have never set up a budget, setting up one for just Christmas is a super starting point!
- Take time to sit down and see exactly how much you have to spend for every part of Christmas: gifts, decorations, food and clothing.
- List the people you want to buy for, and list the decorations you want to buy for your home, yard or patio, plus list how much you have for all the extra groceries or eating out.
- Now is the hard part. If you don’t have that much money this year, instead of buying everything on credit, start a new tradition. Instead of giving store bought gifts, you could make presents or give of your time (see list below).
- Once you have a budget and a list, keep a log, either in your wallet or on a spreadsheet, of every gift you buy (or make) and for what person. Make sure you label that present clearly so when you start to wrap gifts you won’t forget who it’s for!
- Don’t give children money for gifts without planning what they can do. This takes away the joy and sacrifice of giving. Children can make gifts or use their allowance or chore money. This is also a perfect time to teach them to save all year for gifts. Hopefully they are giving money to the church as a tithe, saving some and enjoying the rest.
- Set a date for when you want to be finished with all your buying. That way, you will stay out of the stores and out of debt. This is a tip I must implement for myself: I don’t even think of buying something until I see it, and then I must have it! December 7 is my deadline for buying, shipping presents and sending out cards. That way, I can really enjoy all the parties and activities I may go to without being under so much stress.
- When January comes, start a new budget for next Christmas. When you have almost 12 months to prepare, it will be much easier. Begin to save a certain amount each month or buy gifts throughout the year. Many items are on sale after Christmas, such as wrapping paper and items for gifts. Also, if you have decided to make presents instead of buying, you have so much more time to create. But remember to plan. Without planning, all our best laid plans won’t happen.
Inexpensive Gift Ideas
This may be the year you can’t buy a zillion presents—so what do you do? First, pray and ask the Lord to show you the best way to honor the people you want to give to as well as honor Jesus. Second, consider these options:
- Give coupons for free babysitting, computer help or meals cooked.
- Let your Christmas cards be your gift.
- Decide to have everyone in the family or group pick one person to buy for.
- Pool all your money together and give to a needy family or organization.
- Write a handwritten note to someone you care for or a story of your life for a grandchild.
- Record your family singing or speaking on a CD or DVD for those who live far away. This is something we grandparents love!
- Create a scrapbook of special family events, reunion gatherings, a baby’s birth or a wedding. These are prized gifts! They can be the old-fashioned paper kind or online ones where the company puts it all together.
- Children love to put on shows, so they could perform a talent show, music recital or present a holiday play as a gift.
- Create your own photo calendar by using extended family photos and then sending a calendar to each family member.
- Give your spouse (or child) the gift of time. Give them the “12 dates of Christmas”! You could go ice skating, a trip to get ice cream, a movie or even a back rub.
I pray that you will be able to have a blessed Christmas that honors our Lord as well as shows your loved ones that you care. Let the focus of your home be on Jesus, and you will have a most wonderful Christmas!
Lane Jordan is a best-selling author, international motivational and inspirational speaker, singer, artist, Bible teacher, and professional life coach. She lives in Frisco, Texas with her husband who partners with her in ministry and waits impatiently for daughters and granddaughter to visit! Lane’s desire is to encourage, support, and motivate women of all ages to be better wives, mothers, and women of God by organizing their lives and time. You can find her at: www.LaneJordanMinistries.com and her blog at www.PathwaysToOrganization.com.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.