By Terry Frisk
Christmas is a magical time of the year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We love to decorate our homes to create a festive setting and seek to find the perfect gifts for the special people in our lives. But this all comes with a cost and many people are finding it difficult to make ends meet with the recent increases in the cost of living. How do we enjoy Christmas with little or no extra money to spend? Here are some ideas to help make the Advent season joyful without breaking the bank.
- Assess past Christmas activities and consider no-cost alternatives. Instead of sending Christmas cards, send an email message with a personalized note that expresses your sentiments. Search for free Christmas activities offered by local churches. Plan at-home family activities like movie night (check your library for available videos), games, storytelling, or sing-alongs. For additional ideas, search “no-cost Christmas activities” on the Internet.
- Look for ways to make your home festive. Ask family and friends if they have extra decorations they are not using. Repurpose household items to create new decorations. For example, arrange extra tree decorations, candles and evergreen branches from a nature walk into a centerpiece. Plan a family activity to create decorations. Search “no-cost Christmas decorations” on the Internet for how-to videos and printable items to complete. Pinterest has some great suggestions.
- Reevaluate gift giving. In Matthew, we learned that the magi offered the newborn Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which were lavish gifts. However, gifts to loved ones do not have to be expensive to be meaningful. When I was young, my grandparents had a miniature Space Needle souvenir from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. I used to play with it on visits, creating my own World’s Fair. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened their Christmas gift to find that miniature Space Needle.
My most memorable gifts were not the expensive ones, but the simple gifts that were expressions of love. Consider giving items you already have that would have more meaning to the recipient than to you. Also, consider making gifts that you give. One year, my wife and I decided to make quilted Christmas tree skirts for family and close friends. We spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend cutting fabric squares, sewing them together and assembling the skirts. It was a big job, but the reaction from the recipients was very rewarding and we saw them adorning Christmas trees for many years. Search “no-cost Christmas gifts” on the Internet for creative gifts you and your family can work on together.
- Remember the reason for the season. Christmas can be a stressful time, with the pressure from retailers to buy their products. Redirect your family’s attention from television, social media and other sources of advertising to devotional time. Read the Christmas story in Luke and Mark together and discuss what it means to us. Pray together and give thanks for your blessings.
While there are many people who find it financially difficult to celebrate Christmas, there are many more people who are blessed with an abundance. If you are so blessed, look for ways to share with those who could use the support. Seek out those who may be struggling and offer your help. This may be as simple as sharing Christmas decorations, hosting a dinner party or offering unused items you may have that would be a good Christmas gift. Spreading the Christmas spirit is very rewarding to both the giver and receiver.
Celebrating Christmas is a natural expression of our gratitude for the ultimate gift that God gave us: His Son. The measure of our gratitude is not expressed in the amount of money we spend. Rather, it is in the love in our heart as we rejoice in the birth of our Savior. Have a joyous Christmas and pray for peace.
Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He may be contacted through e-mail at [email protected].