It’s already begun, hasn’t it? Garland and tinsel adorn the supermarkets, catalogs are stuffed in our mailboxes, and every commercial advertises a “much needed” toy. The pressure to spend, spend, spend on our kids during Christmas starts early and progressively picks up speed. As Christian moms, we know what this season is really about – Jesus, our Savior and Lord. But as people who live in a broken and materialistic world, how can we resist the temptation to overspend? We must be diligent and intentional in how we approach the holiday season. Here are some tips to help.
Don’t start buying early. For the most part, the earlier you start buying Christmas gifts, the more you’ll buy in the long run. That’s why the stores hang their décor before Halloween and play Christmas music just as early. If they can get you in the “spirit of buying” early, they’ll have you in it longer. Because up until Christmas day, you will continue to see enticing items that your kids and family would love. So generally speaking, if you start later, you’ll buy less. On the flip side though, if you start buying REALLY early, during the after season sales, you can get very good deals, if you don’t mind saving them for a year or so. This is ideal for those who are good at planning ahead.
Set a budget. This is simple but important. If you have no budget for what you will spend, you’ll be tempted to casually keep buying something here, something there, until Christmas arrives and you realize you spent far more than necessary.
Everyone’s finances are different, but you should set a modest spending limit for your family that still allows room for giving to those less fortunate. Many families implement the “three gift” rule and give their children the same number of gifts that Jesus received. Also, don’t use credit cards! Only purchase gifts with money you have. This is not the time to rack up debt.
Help those in need. If you can spend the Christmas season helping those less fortunate and ministering to those in need, it will help keep you focused on what matters and how blessed you already are. It will also make you realize how little your family actually “needs.” There are many ways to serve such as with Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree, World Vision, and volunteering at food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens. Your family could even “adopt” another family that you wanted to surprise with gifts or a nice meal on Christmas Eve. The possibilities are endless!
Make memories, not shopping lists. Instead of filling up your calendar with shopping dates, plan some fun, holiday adventures with your kids and family. Make cookies and crafts together, decorate the house, ride around and look at Christmas lights. Your kids will relish these memories for years to come, long after they’ve grown tired of the toys and shipped them off to Goodwill. You can even substitute fun activities for presents, by wrapping “coupons” good for “One Backyard Campout” or “One Ice Cream for Dinner Day.” Use your imagination and invest in memories over store-bought merchandise.
Of course, these are just a sampling of the ways to control your spending and maximize your Christmas season? The goal is to keep the focus on Jesus, the very best gift of all! What other ideas do you have?