Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas on a Dime

I'm so thankful for God's provision.  Our Christmas budget has always been very small, and we choose not to charge gifts on credit cards.  So I was a little worried this year when I saw that we weren't going to have anything in our cash envelope to spend on gifts, at all. Which would have been okay, really, since we have participated in Advent Conspiracy for a few years and appreciate less "things" in order to focus on what's most important.

However, this week alone I booked 5 photo sessions this month, completely out of the blue, which will give us a little pocket change to spend.  I still don't want to get carried away.  Yet my love language is gift giving, and I enjoy giving gifts to people immensely.

I read this great article about budgeting for Christmas and making sure that we don't overspend.  After reading it, I sat down to make my list of who we "needed" to give presents to, along with who we wanted to give presents to.  There are 21 people on that list total.  My budget for everyone and everything = $250.  To some people that might seem like a lot, while to others that will seem like very little.  But it equals out to approximately $10 a person, which includes our children.  That gets to be a bit....stressful.  Time to be creative.  (I struggle even writing what our budget is, because I know some people have nothing to spend, but wanted to give some perspective on what we're working with).

As I have done in year's past, I will make gifts for at least 10 of these people, and try to get the supplies to cost about $30 total.  This site has some GREAT homemade Christmas gifts (including the Scrabble Tile necklaces I made last year for everyone on my list).  I have found that people love homemade things and it means more than something store bought.  I can't divulge to you (yet) what I'm making because it's a secret :)

Another cheap gift idea is to give pictures.  I struggle with this one, because I'm surrounded by pictures and give them all the time, but I do think it's good to give updated pictures each year.  Whether they're taken with your own camera or you get them done (and try not to go overboard there, either), frames are pretty cheap and you can even buy them at thrift stores and repaint them yourself.  Nobody cares if they are professional or not - the important thing is that they are fun and creative.  Costco has the best prices on photo processing and gifts that I have found.  Even if you're not a member, you can use your family member's membership to order your prints online and have them shipped to your home, and many items ship for free!

Another idea is to have a Christmas lunch or dinner for your family or friends, and tell them that is your gift to them.  My friend Shannin did this, and shared how special it was that all of her friends and their kids came over.  The kids had a craft table and all took something home.  How creative is that?!

We are also focusing this year on giving with our children.  We received a catalog from Heifer International in the mail and went through it with Micah.  He decided that he wanted to give a flock of chicks to a family in need, and they're only $20.  We brainstormed with him how to raise the money, and decided to have a yard sale.  He will sell some of his toys, and we will use some of the proceeds to go towards this gift and towards our Christmas budget.

I think it's getting more important each year that we scale back the materialism and give more to people in need.  Let's show people we love them through our words and our actions, not "throw a bunch of plastic to our kids" and think it means something (I heard that phrase in a sermon recently) ;)  We don't need more stuff.  In our house, that means we scale down the toys and do 3 gifts per child.  Some of my friends only do 1 gift, if that.  If we change our unhealthy exceptions of what Christmas should be and honor God with our money, He will give us the best Christmas we could ever imagine.

How will your family honor God and scale back on materialism this Christmas?


  1. We always end up spending more than we should. Although this year will be much less. Sometimes half my problem is getting my husband on board w/ it. He loves spoiling the kids. I bought a groupon to a photo site that will help me take care of gifts for grandparents and maybe aunts. Thanks for inspiring me :)

  2. This is my struggle right now and it seems to come up often. Living in the Southbay and seeing all the excess we have and is available to us is hard. I am just not sure how to better apply it to the kids so that they can "live it" rather than me telling them about it.

    Now to work on my list. We do three gifts for the kids but in reality, I think we need to do one as they are the only grandkids and it comes from too many other places.