Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Handbook: Money and Mayhem

The holidays. At times, hectic. Hopefully not horrific. Possibly holy (if you are so inclined). Occassionally hilarious. And, if we are lucky, for the most part happy. Join me on Mondays as we find ways to navigate the Season with style and smarts, and, most importantly, without losing our sanity.

Christmas morning is proof that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Anyone who has seen the look on a child's or loved one's face when they open that perfect gift knows that feeling. The memory is priceless. However, too many priceless presents add up. Come mid-January, when we open those credit card statements, we know exactly how much priceless really costs!

So, in a country still reeling in recession, the question becomes how can we create priceless moments without breaking the bank and maxing out the cards? Here are a few suggestions.

Make It an Event: Instead of spending a lot on friends and extended family, have a big night out at a favorite restaurant and make it a big celebration. Otherwise, have everyone over and have each person bring a dish or a game. The gift is the gift of togetherness and that is something you'll never want to exchange!

The Three Wise Men: I have a friend that has three boys. Her philosophy is simple, Jesus was the Son of God and he only got three gifts (one from each wise man), so why should each kid get more? I know that won't go over well in every home but if your kids are young, this could be a good tradition to start! LOL!

Exchange It: If you aren't doing it already, consider a gift exchange. Let all the adult siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins put their names in a hat, you are only required to get a gift for the person who's name you pull. It also helps if you set a price limit.

Go In Together: For parents or grandparents, pitch in and get one big gift from all of you (if you can decide on what to get).

Start Early: Sure it's too late to do this now but keep it in mind for next year. Start right after Christmas and take advantage of sales all year long. Put those perfect gifts up in a closet. This glut of gifts also comes in handy if you end up needing a last minute birthday or shower gift!

Save Up: If you bank with a credit union or certain banks, you might be able to start a Christmas fund. Put a little aside out of every check (do a direct deposit if possible) and by next year, you'll be in a position to have a great holiday shopping season.

List It: This is one you can do now and one I swear by. Make a list of who you are buying for, what you want to get them and how much you plan on spending. It also makes Christmas shopping a lot faster and easier if you add where you plan to get the gifts to your list.

Weekday Spree: If you can take a day off of work and do your Christmas shopping on a weekday morning. I take my list and I do the majority of my shopping on a Wednesday. No lines. No fuss!

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