10 Tips for Surviving the Christmas Holidays in this Economy

Now that the holidays are approaching, I often see clients, through e-mail, telecounseling, or in person, who express feeling stressed over the expectations regarding gift giving.  Given our unstable economy, many people complain of their dilemma regarding their desire to be generous yet fearful of getting further in debt. It is for this reason, that I have compiled this list of things you can do over the holidays, which will bring joy and happiness to your loved ones, yet be very cost effective.

  1. Create a budget for how much you will spend, and stick to it.
  2. Make lists before going shopping.  Prepare a list of people whom you have to buy gifts for and then set an amount that you want to spend on their gifts.
  3. Let your children choose amongst 3 or 4 possibilities for gifts and buy them their favorite ones.
  4. Volunteer some time at a food bank with your children or friends.  It will allow them to "give back" to their community and it will raise their spirits. It will also give them a feeling of accomplishment and  help them to appreciate what they already have.
  5. If there are many couples in your circle of friends and family, consider giving a gift by couples, rather than individuals.
  6. Gather a collage of pictures with your friends and place them in a photo album showing how your friendships have evolved over the years.  Give them this photo album as a gift that they will cherish for many years to come.
  7. Instead of trying to find the perfect gift for your friends and family, you could also choose to write a letter of appreciation to each of them.  You could tell them how their love and friendship has affected your life and how much they mean to you.  This gift will be very much appreciated.
  8. Instead of breaking the bank over Christmas dinner, why not have a potluck supper? This will save you a lot of money and your guests will be happy to contribute and proudly bring their favorite dishes.
  9. Get decorations and paper plates and cutlery from the Dollar Store, instead of the more expensive party boutiques.
  10. Create several coupons through paper or cardboard and mark on it a service you are willing to give, as your present. This could be anything from a massage, to walking your friend's dog, to making a dessert for them, or babysitting one evening, or any other service you are willing to provide that would be appreciated. This is another very valuable gift and you haven't had to spend a dime. Consider it a win/win!

The importance of the holiday season is the opportunity for us to be with loved ones and able to express our affection and caring for each other.  Let this challenging economy, rather than discouraging you and making you feel disappointed or sad, let it be an opportunity to start choosing gifts from the heart that will inspire your creativity and imagination.  These tips are a beginning to get your creativity juices flowing, to lessen your feelings of stress, and help you to enjoy and appreciate the many gifts you have right now.  Isn't that really what is most important?

Best wishes for all.

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