Because of the economy, many of my friends have stated that they are cutting back on what and how much they buy. Some of these same friends have complained that they have had to purchase gifts for various people in their lives.

Heres my idea…Instead of “cutting back” or even complaining about it, why not CHANGE the way we celebrate? We do not have to forego tradition when changing these celebrations, instead change the mindsets of those involved.

We need to celebrate this holiday within our means! So, while contemplating on these things, we need to understand what is specifically important to us. These priorities will be different for everyone.

Here are some of my Christmas “tips”

DECORATIONS

I still need my decorations, but unless something breaks, I will not purchase new ones. How about where you store your decorations? If you dont have room for it, dont keep it. This allows you to concentrate on saving/using only the decorations you absolutely love! This also helps when it comes to setting everything up – and putting it away for the following year.

When you are pairing down your collection of Christmas decorations, there are many ways to “get rid of” any extras. You can always give it to another family member, box some of them and give them to your adult children, donate to your church, or donate somewhere else. I suggest that ornaments/decorations that are broken in any way, be thrown away.

CHRISTMAS DINNER

I like to host Christmas dinner. This is mostly due to everyone else in the family having animals or a smaller space to celebrate…but no matter who hosts the Christmas dinner, we have to remember to economize.

Instead of having the host family prepare everything, make your Christmas dinner “potluck”. Since most of us are pretty traditional when it comes to our Christmas dinners, we dont really take a chance with crazy off-the-wall dishes. If this is a concern, make sure to speak with those attending, and “assign” dishes to each person.

THE HORROR! GIFTS!

If there ever has been a year to cut back, it is 2008. Most families remember Christmas pasts when they got “that awesome video game system” or the year that they got that “big screen tv”. Many of our Christmas memories just straight up involved gifts….and most of us can recall some time in our lives when under our Christmas tree, was a mountain of perfectly wrapped gifts.

Even though some of my friends still bought a couple of the big ticket items – Im sure they saved awhile for it-or will face a sticker shock come January when the bill rolls in.

DIVING INTO CHANGE

Last Christmas, I had JUST moved. I beleive that my gift was that the house sold quickly, and we were able to find exactly what we wanted. But anyway, because of all that was involved in showing the house, packing, painting-etc we really could not have fit in shopping…not to mention keep track of what was bought.

So we spoke to our friends and families and said, Hey-we still want to host Christmas (potluck idea started last year too) but can we NOT exchange gifts? Amazingly, everyone thought that was a good idea. I dont think anyone minded.

THE LUCKY ONES!

We did however still get my daughter and son presents. They wrote lists of ideas with a certain money limit – and we got the top two things they wanted. Both were happy with their gifts.

I have to mention that our one tradition has evolved into something else that has made Christmas a little less stressful. When I was a kid, I was allowed to open ONE gift Christmas Eve. Granted, those gifts were basically Christmas pajamas from your folks….and youd better wear em for the morning for when they take pictures!!

SEE, I AINT LIKE MY MOM & DAD

I have always let my kids do the same, but I never did the pajamas thing to them. I gave them real gifts (like a cd or dvd) My motive wasnt for the pictures tho-mine was to have them occupied so that we could get stuff separated for the “morning set-up”.

SLEEPING IN CHRISTMAS DAY = PRICELESS!

Anyway, a couple of years ago, we started letting them open everything Christmas Eve (after Mass the years we were able to go) so that we could sleep in Christmas morning. This alleviated alot of stress Christmas day…mostly because the kids stopped waking up at the crack of dawn to open and play with whatever they got.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC

Heres an awesome discovery-Comcast has a Christmas digital music channel. For those of you who are starting out….you wont need to purchase music to set the mood. For those of us with umpteen Christmas tunes cds-we can keep them in the cd rack. There is something for everyones taste.

I STILL SEND SNAIL MAIL!

I have neglected to mention something that I need to address now.
Christmas cards.
I dont feel like Christmas is complete without sending Christmas cards. I have a Christmas card list that is somewhere around 90-100 names long. I really try not to bump anyone off this list, no matter how much money I will save on postage. I know everyone feels differently about sending cards-even if they love getting them….and maybe my card is cheering one of them up. So I do NOT skimp here.

THE MORAL OF THIS STORY

We spent hundreds of dollars less this year, but enjoyed Christmas 100% more!
Not only did we save money, our ideas have been passed around amongst our closest friends and we have heard stories about how much they saved!

Theres another bonus as well….no malls, no lines!
NO ADDITONAL DEBT!

So what are your thoughts? Do you think you could implement any of these ideas?

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