What if you didn’t spend a lot of money for the holidays this year? The pressure to give in to Christmas wish lists and to buy gifts for friends, guests and extended family can be hard to resist during the season of giving. But you could give differently this year. To release some of the financial pressure that often comes with the holidays, try these four things:
1. Set a holiday budget.
Parents often overspend on their kids during the holidays. If kids have the expectation that they’re going to get the things on their wish list, parents will feel the pressure to give in and overspend. The kick-back to overspending happens in January, when people get their holiday bills.
Canadians spend an extra $1000 during the holidays on average, and the extra spending tends to be on gifts. Blue Monday – the third Monday in January – is considered the most depressing day of the year because people are getting their holiday bills, have already broken New Year’s resolutions, and it’s cold and dark out. If you set a budget and stick to it, you will reap the benefits in the coming months. Rather than sharing the holiday spirit through gifts, make it a priority to give in other ways so you can save money and prevent the future financial burden and stress.
2. Plan your spending.
Create a list of who you’re going to spend on, and how much. If you can come up with a few gift ideas within your budget for each person, that’s even better. Creating a tangible list – whether in writing or on your phone – will make you more likely to stick to your budget, especially when you’re short for time.
3. Get creative.
Homemade gifts are big money-savers. Knitted things, scrap books, and homemade baking, candles, or even mulled wine are cost-effective ways to give. If you feel like you need to give a gift, but you’re short on money, these are all great options that people often love more than something you could have bought!
4. Give the gift of time.
Rather than giving presents, you could give presence. Hosting a themed potluck to bring your loved ones together is a really simple way to connect, enjoy, and give presence to the special people in your life.
Fully enjoying these moments doesn’t cost money, and with experiences comes the things that we all long for: time, presence and connection.
If you can’t afford to give gifts at all this year and you don’t have time to bring your loved ones together, communicate this to them.
Share what’s going on this year so that you don’t feel guilty or unable to celebrate the holiday season. Giving without gifts takes the pressure off so that you can focus on love, and the experience and connection during the holidays.
Ask yourself what is more important – to enjoy your much deserved holiday or to be stressed, exhausted and regretful of over-spending. Your loved ones likely prefer a less overwhelmed version of you as well.