Christmas is just around the corner and many of us are gearing up for a holiday season filled with fun, family, and good times. However, good times can be met with reticence when we know what lies ahead: the mad rush of holiday shopping, spending more than we planned, and a mountain of gifts to return after the holidays are over. Nobody wants to end up in that boat. For homeschooling moms, especially, it makes a lot of practical sense to continue along the lines of planning, clipping, and saving – those things we’re already used to doing throughout the year. But somehow, the holiday glitz and glam has a way of pulling us into the trap of pulling out more cash from our purses than we intended. So here are a few tips that can help us all remember to hold our course.
1.) Start planning your shopping essentials as soon as possible. No sense waiting until you’re in a crowded Toys R Us to figure out if your four year old will want that Lego set he’s been wanting and that’s currently slashed down to a mere 10% off. Chances are if you lean towards impulse spending like I do, you’ll probably cave in and grab it off the shelf right away. It’s just too tempting. That is unless you’re armed and dangerous (with your shopping list, of course). Making your plan a few weeks (or better yet, months) ahead of time will ensure that you have the tool you most need to follow the right path – the predetermined path. So, make that list and stick with it. If it’s not on your list, skip the aisle…or the store…altogether.
2.) Shop online, when possible. Shopping online is not as risque as it once used to be, and
we’re all fully aware of the online shopping blitz such as Cyber Monday sales after Thanksgiving that bring in so much business for online shops. But shopping online is not only great for shops, it’s a wonderful relief for mamas who just want to stay in the comfort of our own homes and purchase what’s on our list with the click of a mouse. Not only are you saving time and gas, but you could be saving your sanity if you’re the type that just absolutely resents the hustle of holiday shopping. Furthermore, you can always do a Google search for coupons and vouchers before checking out to save money on your final purchases, and many companies offer free shipping to your doorstep. How much more convenient can holiday shopping get?
3.) Get creative with your talents. The holiday season is a great time to start digging out your passions and creative talent you haven’t really had the time for all year long (you know, due to activities like – let’s see- homeschooling your kids). So now’s a great time to start baking and selling those brownies if you have a knack for baking. Send them off with your husband on his way to work (just make sure he brings back more than an empty plate with crumbs).
Sell them to your friends and family. It really helps if you’re pretty crafty around this time of the year. Making up a box of beautiful homemade ornaments or offering gift wrapping services could put some extra cash in your pocket. Use that cash to purchase meaningful (not necessarily expensive) gifts for your loved ones.
4.) Set a gift exchange limit. This is a very common idea for holiday office parties or with relatives and family reunions…but unfortunately, not so very common within our own families. Growing up an only child for many years, I remember the pure bliss of Christmas morning – not being able to find my way out of the myriad boxes of gifts surrounding me. Being spoiled in a “good” way, so to speak, is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as we balance it by helping our kids to lower their expectations and express gratitude no matter what they do or don’t receive.
However, in families of two or more children, and with the complexities of today’s tech-savvy generation and expensive tastes, gift buying becomes a burden to many parents who feel the need to continue the legacy of their own childhood (or the opposite). When I was younger, I remember the excitement I received from opening a package of books or crayons. Many of my gifts were simple (although I won’t deny getting that occasional bicycle or the infamous Cabbage Patch doll). But the simple gifts mattered a lot to me. It’s harder to pass that sense of simplicity along to my children in this complex, consumer-rich society, but my goal is to start by setting boundaries on the gift exchange so that our Christmas mornings are about more than the gifts we receive from one another.
Maybe setting limits on the amount each family member should spend or the number of presents to be passed out would help alleviate the expectations of bigger, better, and more. Finding out what works best for your family is key.
5.) And finally, go homemade. Any opportunity you can find to replace the glamorous (and expensive) item with a homemade one may be worth your time. Try to make it yourself. Instead of expensive holiday decor, you can either shop at discount stores (like the Dollar Store) or creatively piece together your own homemade version of the same item.
I know, I know – most of us honestly don’t have time to make our own decor, but we can probably bake our pies and cakes for our holiday parties, rather than buying them at the local bakery.
If you take the pressure off yourself to impress friends and family, it will also take the pressure off your wallet! Go simple, go homemade, save money. Plus, your own creation will probably taste way better anyway.
As for gifts, support your local handmade artists or find an Etsy store to support. You’ll find some of the most creative and unique handmade gifts to share with your family and friends, you’ll save gas, and you’ll probably spend less money on gifts that are more meaningful.
Yes, your kids will still want that Lego set – and no, you can’t go handmade with that, obviously! So plan ahead of time to buy the Lego set, create your budget and shopping list and stick to it, set guidelines and limits for your gift exchange, support handmade where possible, and sit back and relax.
Christmas really is about sharing our love for one another. If we create a relaxed atmosphere for our families by loving one another and supporting the True Gift and meaning of Christmas, then, hopefully our holiday season will go much smoother.