I'll prove to you that you have nothing to worry about, even at a dreaded time of year deep in this depression we're living in. Whether you have a fat bank account and a cushy job, no money or an account that's overdrawn, read on! You will see there are many gifts to give far more valuable than anything you can buy in a store. So your child might not get that Play Station or bicycle they dream of. Will they die from it? Of course not. Children today understand more than you think if you can't afford some pricey gift. If they cannot, then it's a life lesson they need to learn.
Many are struggling to make ends meet, and the very thought of having extra spending money for presents is a dream. It can keep people awake at night worrying. If there are children involved, this makes the matter worse. Having been in this situation in our lives before, my wife and I were faced with this problem when our children were very young, so we understand it well. This is something you always remember and what you did about it. It seemed like this might be a good time to share what we did to solve our Christmas present problems and to help our children solve theirs. And you'll sleep easier right into next year!
To begin with never use your credit cards to fund Christmas presents! After December 25th, you won't be worrying about the dreaded statements or overdraft fees coming in the mail that you may not be able to ever pay off. It's NOT worth doing it that way!
I've always followed my father's advice with credit cards - if what you want to buy something can be paid off in FULL in one month or less, then buy it. If you cannot, then wait or go without the item unless it's a dire emergency like a car repair so you can get to work or a medical issue. My father practiced this, and left this world with very little debt and premiere cards in his pocket like Diners Club.
So what can you do to make Christmas in your home merry and worry-free?
Is there an alternative for low cost or no cost gifts in this era of Chinamart?
Here are just a few ideas to show your love for others on a shoestring budget or no budget:
* Hand made cards. These cards actually mean much more to people that a $6.00 manufactured card. It shows you love them enough to sit down and do this. Everyone knows that the value of a card is measured in seconds - but don't be surprised to find your hand-made card is show-cased by your loved ones. And if they are very senior in years, most likely your Christmas card will saved in their collection of treasures, and you'll see it again that day after the funeral is over. It's very easy to take a piece of ordinary copier paper, fold it twice to make a card. Don't use a computer printed card, but your own free-hand creative artwork. You will find it to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience!
* Items you don't need that someone else might. Many of us have things laying around we never use. Instead of throwing them out, pick out what items would fit someone else's needs and wrap them up! Pick something you don't need that fits the person and their interests. For example, if you are into electronics and a child, friend or relative are also involved in it as a hobby, go through your parts drawers/boxes and create a nice assortment of parts for them. Today it's the shipping costs for parts that most often far exceeds the cost of the parts themselves. This is true of any hobby or profession.
* Gifts of service. This is the greatest gift you can give and terrific in many ways for adults and children. The younger they are the better, as long as they are old enough to begin to understand the concept. For example, a day spent doing chores for a brother or sister. Imagine how grateful a child will be if a parent or other child did their chores for a full day! A simple hand-made gift certificate states what the gift is. For adults, declare a gift such as "Good for one breakfast in bed!" or "One house dusting!", "Wash all the windows!", etc... Make it a gift of service that a child or adult would never expect! If a child is old enough and has been taught how to run a lawn mower or snow blower or can be taught to do so, tell them it at can be a gift for them, too!
* Hand-decorated Christmas ornaments can be a present, too. For decades companies like Hallmark(r) have produced these pricey little gifts each year. You'll find that most tree ornaments today are all simple colored glass spheres with no printing on them. Such an ornament is a blank slate just begging to be painted on. You can even use an old paint-by-numbers set, or the foam-type paint used for decorating clothes and a cheap artist's paint brush. Paint the name and year on it. Select one of the ornaments from your Christmas tree decorating box in the favorite color of the person you're giving it to. No one will ever miss it!
* Knitted scarves, gloves, hand-made placemats for kitchen and dining room tables are still great gifts no one will ever forget.
* If you're not into sewing, you can use your computer to print out some decorative artwork for personalized placemats, then go to some place like your work office or Kinkos and have it laminated.
* Anything can be used for wrapping paper, even last year's wrapping paper or simple white copier paper with designs drawn on. Costing about $5.00 for 500 sheets, this is the cheapest paper there is. After all, that's what people had to do before the advent of printed wrapping paper. In fact, ordinary brown kraft paper like the old paper shopping bags was commonly used and tied closed with brown string. Adhesive tape didn't always exist.
* I was taught as a child how to wrap a present using just three pieces of tape. Use one piece to secure the first stage wrap-around and one piece to close up each end.
* For gifts of service, place the hand-made gift certificate inside a small box and wrap it up. This gives friends, adults and children something to open, and a Christmas present to occupy space in your living room! After all, a gift is a gift!
If your children do not have chores already they should have! Far from being obsolete or corny, this simple requirement teaches valuable life lessons and the basic principles of responsibility for bigger things coming their in lives, such as a full-time job and being a parent.
So here's to a worry free, Merry Christmas to all!