By Crystal Hubbell, LPCC-S
Christmas is a chore when you have five children. When they were young, like very young, it wasn’t as difficult. But as they got older, the toys and needs got much more expensive. When we were not so wise with our money, we would easily put 2000.00 on a credit card and not have it paid off till the spring. We have tried many different way to do Christmas gifts without breaking the budget. We now draw names at Thanksgiving since most of them have a significant other. We also celebrate gift giving on New Years day and save Christmas for more reflection, hanging with family and just enjoying the day. This means that the week after Christmas, we shop and get all the great deals. Since we all only buy one nice gift, we end up having a great time finding that deal and giving a great gift. But over the years, we have learned some key ways to save money for Christmas gifts should you celebrate in this way.
1). Make a list and a budget and keep to it. When you know what people need or want and pair that with what you CAN afford, it is easy. Shop on Amazon, have it sent a month before Christmas, Viola! This is a sure way to not exceed your means, don’t spend more than you can afford.
2) Go in with someone on gifts. Sharing the cost with other family members or friends means you can be more creative and spend a little more money by sharing the cost. This is also a fun way to spend time with others during the holidays.
3) Draw names. This is easy, and you can buy the person what they want since you only must get one person something. This method is easy on the budget and the person can get something very nice.
4) If you don’t have a lot of money even with a budget, make gifts and food. You can dress up containers in nice paper and make a special tag. See Recipe below.
Hot Cocoa Mix
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pinch (or more to taste) ground cayenne pepper*, optional
Hot milk or water to serve
Combine the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, milk powder, salt, cornstarch and cayenne in a large airtight container. Secure the lid and shake vigorously to combine and remember to shake prior to every extraction.
To serve: Place 2 tablespoons of the mix in a mug and add about 2 fluid ounces hot water or milk. Stir to combine. Fill the mug with more hot water or milk and enjoy.
Don’t stress. Remember the point of gift giving. Some time it isn’t worth the stress to give what you don’t have. Make a card to express your love and kindness. Give to the people that mean the most to you. Next time you have more money, you can buy them something special. I have never believed that going into debt to give people gifts they don’t need or want is ever a good idea.