Thoughts On The Holidays and Saving Money

Guest Post – Allison

Christmas can be a very expensive time of the year. I know when my children were young I found myself in a vicious cycle every year trying to top what I had gotten them the year before. At one point I felt as if Christmas was a burden and no longer gave me the joy it had before. There was too much going on and it was just costing way too much. I realized I just loved being with my children and they loved being with their family more than having a lot of stuff.

When children are tiny they do not count how many presents they are getting or who gets what. They are thrilled to make crafts, bake cookies, wrap gifts, and look for Santa. As parents we are always trying to please our children but the very best gifts cannot be purchased. We as parents need to keep Christmas simple and the amount of gifts and the cost of gifts at a happy medium. Our children will never expect more if we do not keep producing more each year.

When I was growing up we had one main gift and a few smaller gifts. The main gift was something we really wanted (that one usually came from Santa) and three or four smaller gifts from mom and dad. We never knew the difference and we were thrilled. We had some wonderful Christmas traditions for Christmas breakfast and Christmas meals with extended family that we looked forward to as well. Stockings were a big deal too and were always filled with candy and small toys.

I know times have changed but what I enjoyed most about Christmas was family and the relaxing time off from school with mom. She would teach me how to make pies, cookies, and cakes for the holidays. Mom was always including me in her Christmas meals and it made me happy. Visits to grandparents and cousins houses were so special. Memories of going to see Santa and playing in the snow bring a smile to my face.

The more you spend on gifts each year the more your children will expect. It is human nature to take and take as long as someone is giving. We need to teach our children the deeper meaning of Christmas and the reason why we celebrate. Teaching them that this is the day when God sent His Son to live amongst us because of His great love for us. That God loved us and sent us a Savior so that if we believe in Him and accept Him into our hearts we will get to spend eternity in heaven with Him. Also we need to teach our children the blessing of being around loved ones and having fun playing games, making crafts, and baking cookies. If you keep trying to top last year it will eventually drain the joy out of Christmas because you end up broke, worn out from shopping, and most importantly you will not spend relaxing, quality time with your kids. They really want to know you and the more you give of yourself the less their need will be for stuff.

There are some great ways to keep down your costs at Christmas when you do shop. Always check the internet for the best prices for what you need and often times you can get a better deal ordering online. So many companies offer free shipping at Christmas. It cuts down on the wear and tear of your nerves as well. I know there are times that it is enjoyable to go to the malls, especially when you take the kids to see Santa. But if you know exactly what your child wants it is often easier and more reasonable to get it online. That may help you keep it a secret as well.

Another way to save on Christmas gifts is to buy them throughout the year. If you have parents, siblings, or other family that like to receive the same gifts every Christmas this is a good way to buy. For instance, Uncle Earl always wants a flannel shirt, or dad needs the same pair of pants he gets every year, then why not buy it when they are on sale during Memorial Day or Labor Day? You can also pick up stocking stuffers throughout the year. There are always neat little items you run across as you are shopping so why not pick them up for Christmas? I have gotten into the habit of doing this and it has saved me on many occasions. I have forgotten a birthday or someone at Christmas and I have gifts on hand that will work perfectly.

Another great way to save money and make people happy is by making homemade desserts. I am surprised at the people I know that either do not know how to bake or they do not like to bake and are absolutely thrilled to get homemade Christmas baked goods. I have several elderly neighbors that can no longer bake but love sweets and this makes the perfect gift and it actually makes them feel so special. The gift even becomes more special if you spend a little time with them when you deliver the gift. This is also a wonderful way to spend time with your children because they love to help bake cookies. Making sugar cookies is so much fun when you roll them out and use cookie cutters to cut them. The decorating of the sugar cookies is my favorite part. My children and I usually make our cookies with an ornament cookie cutter, a Santa, a gingerbread man, a star, and Christmas tree shapes. We then mix up powdered sugar with milk and food coloring to the right consistency and drizzle different colors on with a spoon then top it off with some Christmas colored sugar. We have a blast and they are so good when they are iced! No one minds that they are not perfect because they are made with love and they are yummy.

Another great way to spend time with your children and to save a little money is to sit down and do some Christmas crafting. I know many grandparents who have everything they need but would cherish a craft made by their grandchildren. There are some pretty amazing craft ideas on the internet these days. They do not have to be just construction paper, glue, and glitter but even then I am sure they would love to hang them on their refrigerators or place them on their desks with pride. I have seen craft stick ornaments that were really cute lately. Just use some water colors, craft sticks, glue, construction paper, and pipe cleaners to make a precious fire place ornament and put your child’s picture in the fireplace. Three painted craft sticks (brown for traditional fireplace) at the top for the mantle, one on each side, and one or two at the bottom glued together. Use a green pipe cleaner and wave it across the mantle like garland, cut the brown pipe cleaner into three pieces to make the wood on the fire, and cut out yellow and red “fire” from construction paper. You could add some beads to the garland to make it look likes lights. Put your child’s picture in the middle as if they are looking out of the fireplace and tie a piece of ribbon on top for hanging on the tree. Any crafts that include a picture of the grandchild are sure to please.

This is also a great way to decorate your home for Christmas. Do it with your children and make decorations. I have seen some adorable ornaments and centerpieces that you and the children could make that would bring holiday color and cheer to your home. Some of the ones I love that I have seen lately are the button decorations. There are wreath ornaments made out of buttons, ribbon, and wire. There are Christmas trees made out of craft store cones, wrapped with green yarn, and then buttons are pinned on with decorative straight pins (the kind with balls on the ends instead of the flat ends).  I think they would make a lovely centerpiece especially if you got various sizes of cones and used different kinds of buttons. If you do not happen to have a lot of old buttons at home they have bags of buttons at craft stores and fabric stores that you can buy. Pick up pine cones and spray paint them gold or silver and then paint on a little watered down glue and sprinkle with glitter. Hang them on the tree as ornaments or fill up a vase or bowl as a lovely decoration for your home.

These are just a few ways to save money during the holidays and some wonderful ways to spend time with your little ones. They love spending time with you, especially when you are focused on them and doing fun things together, more than anything else you could give them. Do yourself a favor and slow down during the holidays, spend less money, and enjoy your family!

Author Byline:
Allison after graduation allows her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with .  She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.

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