Affordable Gift Giving
by Sherry Kyle
My husband and I have struggled with knowing how much is too much when giving Christmas gifts to our four kids. Early every December, we go out to lunch and strategize before we shop. We talk about our kids’ wish lists, compare their needs and wants, and discuss how much we can afford.
However, as Christian parents, we know that gift giving isn’t about spoiling our kids. We want them to know gifts that can’t be seen are more important than material things. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “We don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. That’s because what can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever.” God’s Word is full of promises like that.
Nevertheless, Christmastime is a season of giving, and it’s fun to show others how much we care. Most of us love to give gifts, even if we have to use our credit cards to buy them. It’s no surprise that people overspend during the holidays. Did you know the average American will spend $700 on gifts this Christmas? It’s true!
However, we don’t need to be caught up in the shopping frenzy. Consider these eight tips for affordable gift giving:
Create a budget. One of the most important things you can do for your wallet is to create a gift-giving budget. Decide in advance how much money you are going to spend on each gift and stick to it. Take this a step further and put aside money each month so that you will have enough when Christmas rolls around.
Make a list and check it twice. Do you buy for everyone in your family? Does your group of friends exchange gifts? Maybe its time to shorten your list or encourage lower spending limits to ease everyone’s bank accounts. By speaking up, you will be helping everyone. Another idea is to pool your friends or family together and have a gift exchange. Buying for one person is more affordable and allows for a nicer gift.
Shop wisely. See a sale? Time to buy. Shop on major holiday sales weekends to get the best deals. If you shop throughout the year, make sure you keep a record of each gift so that you don’t forget about the purchase. Most importantly, remember to comparison shop and support local businesses.
Keep a few extra gifts on hand. Need a last-minute gift for a party or holiday gathering? With a little planning, you can keep your budget in tact and be ready for those unexpected gift-giving times. Movie theatre or restaurant gift cards, or other generic type gifts, usually fit the bill. If you don’t give them away at Christmas, you can treat your spouse to a fun night out or give them to friends and family throughout the year.
Give to someone in need. Instead of a traditional gift, choose a charity and donate on behalf of someone you love. Give blood, donate money to a local food bank, or register to be an organ donor. These gifts will not break the bank and will make a big difference in someone’s life. Do you know a family struggling to make ends meet? Save room in your budget to buy for someone who might not otherwise receive a gift this Christmas. There is nothing that will get you more in the holiday spirit than giving to people in need.
The best and most personal gifts are usually handmade. Do you know how to knit? Sew? Do you love to paint or make things out of wood? Consider putting your skills to work. Consider making a knitted scarf, hand-sewn quilt, watercolor painting, or wooden cross for those you love. These types of gifts will be treasured for a very long time.
It is the thought that counts. A small gift may be all that’s needed to show others we care, and it may not cost us money. Be creative! Write a love note, e-mail them a digital picture of the sunset, or offer to wash their car. When we give of our time or talents, it makes others feel special.
Think outside the box. How many times have you seen kids play with the cardboard box instead of what is inside? That’s because cardboard boxes inspire creativity and imagination. Kids can turn them into anything they like. A simple box can take them on adventures and help them explore imaginary places in their minds. No, our children might not want a cardboard box for Christmas, but they don’t need much to be happy.
December 25 is right around the corner! By focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, the precious gift of baby Jesus, we can have an affordable gift-giving season.
Sherry Kyle is an award-winning author of books for tween girls, including her new release True Heart Girls Devotional: God’s Promises for Me. She also writes novels for women set along the coast of California where she makes her home with her college sweetheart and their four children. When she’s not writing, Sherry spends her time reading, having coffee with friends, and decorating her beach home. You can visit her at www.sherrykyle.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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