Have a Great Christmas Despite the Poor Economy

decorating christmas tree

There’s no getting around it: times are hard right now. Our economy is at a low the likes of which many of us have never seen before, and that makes it difficult to pay even basic things like bills, food, and transportation costs. Add in the fact that Christmas is coming, and the state of your bank account is likely to send you into a panic attack. So many people to buy for, and so little cash to go around.

Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the fact that Christmas is not about gadgets that can be bought in a store or gift certificates for a fancy restaurant. It’s about family, and reverence, and celebrating your beliefs. It’s a time for people to gather with loved ones, appreciate each other’s company, and reflect on the past year.

We think of gifts specifically as things we buy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Gifts can be things we do for each other, or things we make for each other. One of my best friend’s favorite things is when her family gives her homemade coupon books, with vouchers that she can exchange for various things during the coming year. By handing in one of her coupons, she can get her husband to cook dinner, her son to wash her car, or her girls to clean the house for her. She saves these coupons for when she’s really tired or worn out, and then cashes in so that she can have a day off from being a full-time mom. She likes these kinds of gifts rather than the store-bought kind, because they show a lot of thought, and the coupons are good for any day of the year, which indicates that her family is willing to go the extra mile for her year-round, not just during the holidays.

Small gifts that are heartfelt can be so much nicer than expensive gifts with no thought behind them. Sure, try to tell the kids that, but maybe it’s time they learned that Christmas isn’t all about who gets the most. Of course, no one likes to be in a tough financial situation, but that should have very little bearing on Christmas, and in fact it will do a great job of shifting the emphasis from material concerns to the true meaning of the season.

If you ever wanted to experiment with doing something different during the Christmas season that doesn’t involve tons of shopping in crowded malls, this year would be the perfect opportunity. Instead of going out and spending money, gather the family together and do something that doesn’t cost anything, like caroling, decorating the house, or wrapping presents for charity. On weekends in November and December, the kids can make holiday cards for their relatives and their friends at school. These are all bonding activities that will bring your family closer together, and they will show you without a doubt how much you really do have, and how much there is to be thankful for.

For many of us, this year is much tighter financially than previous years, but perhaps that is a blessing in disguise where Christmas is concerned. The focus will very much be on togetherness rather than gifts, and fun rather than fortune. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how this turns out, because for all the enjoyment that I’ve had opening expensive gifts in the past, I’ve always thought it would be just as nice to just do simple gifts instead and just have a big celebration at home, with everyone thinking about the blessings they have in their lives, instead of the boxes under the tree.

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