Hey everyone. I hope your weekend was simply wonderful and that your week will prove to be the same
I can’t believe it’s already December 1!! That means there’s a little over three weeks left before Christmas…which is crazy! Time really does fly when you’re having fun!
Speaking of fun, the weeks leading up to Christmas are supposed to be fun, entertaining and joyful, yet for many, they are stressful and wrought with expectations on many fronts. Those expectations – for the most part – are centered around the burden of gift giving and the debt that such expectations incur. Definitely not a fun way to bring about the joy of the holidays.
So, what can one do? I’m glad you asked, ‘cause I have a few possible solutions that involve the act of intentional giving
The first – and honestly – the simplest, is to let everyone know that you will not be buying gifts for anyone this year, nor do you expect any as well.
Now I realize that this may seem quite extreme and possibly not an option for many of you, but, it has worked for me over the years and while I may not be buying gifts for those I care for, I tend to transfer my gift giving to other areas. These areas could include helping with the pre and post Christmas dinner festivities, offering my skill as a computer “nerd” when needed, taking care of the entertainment on Christmas Day – The Grinch Who Stole Christmas anyone? – or any other personal service that I can offer throughout the year. It also helps that I am completely transparent with my friends about how little money I make, so they understand that I’m just not trying to “save a buck” by not getting anyone anything.
Over the years, I have found that giving the gift of your personal time beats any mass-produced item hands down! An afternoon off for a friend while you watch their children. A house cleaning party for an over-worked family. A home cooked meal for a loved one. These are the types of intentional gifts that truly make a huge difference in one’s life and should never be discounted merely because they do not have a big box store ticket price attached to them!
Having said that, I have bought gifts in the past for the children of my “adopted” family, and found that the simplest and intentional gift giving in that circumstance was gift-cards to a popular coffee shop in the neighborhood. I would spend no more than five to ten dollars a card and the children always loved receiving them. Those gift cards allowed them to feel special as they could go to the cafe on their own or with their friends and/or family and order what they wanted for a special afternoon or early evening treat. A simple gift that meant a lot! And if they were somewhat frugal, the gift card could last as many as two or three visits!
Another simple way of showing your love to someone during the holidays would be to make something for them from scratch.
As you all know, I have recently gotten into photography and now have an Etsy shop of more than 90 photographs, with more being added every week. Suffice it to say, I will be offering friends and family the opportunity to pick which photo they would like. I will then have those images printed and framed (dollar store frames, which actually, are quite nice). Fortunately, my friends and family like my work so that makes this gift extra special
And the reverse is just as special, when my friends’ daughters bake me a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies! Or his wife cooks me up a delicious Sheppard’s pie! It’s these types of gifts that come from the heart and are clearly not a last-minute after-thought on December 24 at 4:59PM!
Now, I’m not saying that you need to run out and by a camera or tons of yarn for a marathon knitting session…but if you have a talent that can be shared, then by all means, a made-from-scratch gift trumps a store bought item any day!
So, what happens when you have a family and everyone is expecting a gift or two (especially the children)? Well, you might wanna consider buying second hand gifts for the kiddos. There are all kinds of wonderful – and frugal – gift ideas to be had at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army and the children don’t need to know that what they are receiving is second hand. In fact, you can probably double what will end up in your gift-giving Santa’s sack while helping out a community institution. And with the money you save, you could take a bit from that and donate to a worthy cause, or buy a few gifts for a needy family. There are many drop-off centers around town that will allow you to drop off gifts and non-perishable food items for those in need. And while I agree that charity does indeed begin at home, a few extra bucks to help someone else out is a beautiful thing and is its own reward in the end.
If none of the above appeals to you, there’s always the one big gift for the whole family thing.
Keeping with the idea of intentional giving, this one gift could be something that would be greatly appreciated – and used – by the entire family. Of course, the cost is relative to what you can afford, so consider all your options and budget first. The worse thing to do would be to buy some huge ticket item that would put your family deeper into debt. This is where you need to throw unrealistic expectations out the window and instead, consider what your family truly needs. If it is a big screen TV, so be it! If it’s an in-ground swimming pool, so be it! As long as it is an item that will benefit the whole family in some major way, then you’re making an intentional choice. One based on forethought and need rather than some spontaneous want that was scientifically marketed towards your subconscious!
Let me make one thing perfectly clear…I am not judging anyone who falls prey to the consumer aspect of the holiday season. It’s a very stressful time of year and I realize that it’s easy for me to sit here and type this stuff as I am a single dude with little obligations throughout the holiday season. But no matter if you’re single like I am, have a large family, or are somewhere in between, the act of intentional giving is one that will result in a happier – and more thoughtful – holiday for all. Of that I am sure! Or…you can just book a cruise from December 20th to January 2nd and have yourself a grand old time
So…what will you be thinking about for the upcoming holidays?
As usual, I’d love to read your thoughts on this topic so please, keep the conversation flowing by adding a comment below.
OH…and I’m now on Facebook if ya wanna be friends. You can friend me at https://www.facebook.com/lyle.robinson.528
Oh oh…can I ask one more favor please…I am trying to gain more “likes” for my The Joy of Simple Facebook page. if you wouldn’t mind, could ya pop over to https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Joy-Of-Simple/550286035018295?ref=hl and like my page pleeeeezzzzzzzeee! Thank you
Take care and all the best.
ps: Looking for some fine art photographs to adorn your walls? Then please feel free to check out my Etsy shop @ https://www.etsy.com/shop/PhotographyByLyleby