The holidays are a festive time, but they also tend to be a time that people drive themselves broke buying gifts for their friends, family and loved ones. Most people agree that the holidays aren’t about presents, but it can be hard not to feel like you need to get everyone a present. With families struggling to make ends meet, this can be incredibly hard to deal with, especially with how tempting it is to put things on a credit card.
I made this mistake my first Christmas after I moved out on my own. I felt like I was being so independent, and I felt like I was expected to buy all of my family members gifts. I was, after all, an adult. I spent a great deal of time scouring the sales, looking over racks and stalking ebay, picking out the perfect gifts for each and every single family member. I don’t know what I was trying to prove, but by the time I was done, I was looking at close to $2,000 in credit card debt. This bill really bit me once the holidays were over, and these gifts were long forgotten. The following year I was smarter, and bought a larger, combined gift for everyone in my family, but it was still expensive. I found myself kicking myself after the holidays were over.
Budget & Prioritize
Finally, I figured out what I needed to do. I had to stop letting myself feel obligated to buy gifts. Gifts aren’t necessary. I sat down and figured out a budget for what I could afford to spend on the holidays and then I prioritized who I needed to get gifts for. My kids, of course, were at the top of this list. Everyone else was secondary. This isn’t to say that the rest of my family means less to me, but rather that my children are my priority and responsibility when it comes to the holiday spending.
Around this time, I realized that it was much cheaper to make gifts for people (and much more meaningful) than it was to buy gifts. As I have become more and more talented with a sewing machine over the last few years, the gifts I have been able to create have gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, I’m making everyone a pair of fleece mittens (even the adults) and a scarf. These gifts might seem a bit boring, but they’re inexpensive, and considering we live in Alaska, they’re practical and will be used often.
Sometimes, when it comes down to it, you just won’t have enough money in your holiday budget to get everyone a gift, or even to buy the supplies to make everyone on your list a gift. I’ve been in this spot and it isn’t any fun. This can be depressing, and you might feel guilty, especially if the person gets you a gift. One way you can still give a gift is by baking! Make some sugar cookies, ginger snaps, chocolate covered gummy orange slices, or put together a little bag of mixed candies. Baking is fun, and depending on your recipe, relatively inexpensive. You could easily put together several bags of baked goods to hand out to friends and family at holiday gatherings. The best part is, if you make a bunch, you don’t have to label them with names, and you won’t have to worry about forgetting someone on your list! Simply hand the baggies out!
Remember, it isn’t about gifts.
The holidays can be a downer when you’re strapped for cash and have too many people on your shopping list. Remember that the holidays aren’t about gifts, and that although you may feel bad for not being able to give the best, or fanciest gifts to the ones you care about, they don’t expect it (and if they do; they don’t need it!) The holidays are about spending time with the people you care about.