Dear Deborah

0 comments Posted on April 26, 2012

Expert Financial Advice

Dear Deborah,

Christmas has become a time of buying and exchanging gifts. But how wise is it, financially, to buy a gift just for the sake of giving a gift at Christmastime? Our family is on a limited budget this year. Do you have any suggestions?

How about discussing the idea of drawing names within your giving circle of family, friends, and business associates? Decide on a spending limit.
Ask people in your giving circle for ideas of what they would like to receive. Then make appropriate gift choices from the list. You can have
just as much fun exchanging gifts this way.

There are many ways you can show your thoughtfulness without spending a lot of money. Give gifts of your creativity and your time. Consider presenting something handmade, such as baked items (favorite cookies or treats) or composed (music or poetry). Make small, personalized scrapbooks of photos or make beaded jewelry. Children’s drawings or photos can be framed as gifts.

If you’re not comfortable making the gifts, attend fall or holiday craft shows or bazaars. You’re likely to find a variety of gift ideas. Choose unique and useful items for the people on your list. By making purchases at the local craft shows, you’re also supporting your local community.

Short on cash? Give a coupon for future services, such as lawn care, a special meal, or childcare.

Many people know that budgets are tight, so be at ease with the fact that you can’t buy gifts for all. To send a holiday message, consider
sending a personalized greeting card or letter.

This is an opportune time to send a letter to keep in touch with the people you care about. What are some tips for writing an effective Christmas letter?

Make the letter interesting and newsy.Be truthful.Write things that you want to remember. Experiment with different letter writing formats: 1) Highlight different types of events, such as the happiest event, the most humorous event, and the most disappointing event. 2) Highlight family accomplishments and activities. 3) Write your letter in a chronological format. 4) Write about significant experiences and the lessons you learned from them. My parents wrote Christmas letters. Years later it has been fun and meaningful to read these letters as part of our family biography. Our
family continues with this Christmas tradition.

“Letters take time to write, usually much more time than talk. They require a certain level of artfulness and thoughtfulness in expression. Then they remain, to be reread, perhaps to be stored away for another day of reading.”  Thomas Moore

Deborah Nayrocker writes on personal money management topics, showing others how to take control of their financial future. An award-winning writer, she is a guest contributor with and a finance columnist with Deborah is the author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and a Bible study Living a Balanced Financial Life. Her website is

If you have a financially-related question that you would like to ask Deborah, click here or email us at


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