The holiday season is upon us. It's that wonderful time of the year. I love Christmas! But I must confess, I get a bit cynical because of the consumerism that accompanies this season.
Last year Americans set a spending record of $886.7 Billion on Christmas gifts, a 14% increase over 2020. It's predicted that Christmas spending will see less of a boost this year. You would think that spending would go down this year due to inflation. Yet, the forecast is that Christmas shopping will increase by 6-8% over last year.
Retailers make a good portion of their yearly profits this season, so I can't blame them for doing what they can to get our attention. Advertising works, and when you're exposed to thousands of ads and commercials enticing you to spend for weeks, it tends to wear you down. Then there are the expectations of our friends and family to partake in these gift exchanges. It's no wonder most of us spend more than we initially planned for Christmas.
Christmas is not primarily about buying stuff. I like the expression of generosity that's synonymous with celebrating Christmas, and it's an important part of the season. I love seeing my family express joy and gratitude as they receive something they want or long for. But that's not the FOCUS of Christmas.
Christmas is about a baby that was born more than 2000 years ago. Jesus came as a gift from God to all humanity. He was God in human form who came to live and die so that we may have life and be reunited with Him for eternity. It's a gift that's still offered to every person. You can't earn this gift, and you can't buy it; you just receive it.
For me, giving and receiving remind me of this ultimate gift. And it just wouldn't be Christmas without giving! But there are ways to enjoy this season without overspending and experiencing future financial misery.
If you have lots of family and friends that you're planning on buying a gift for, set a limit for each person. A $20 to $30 limit per person may mean you'll need to be more creative in choosing a gift, but it's worth it if it keeps you from going into debt.
Doing a gift grab bag is a great option to keep gift-giving in check. You still get to enjoy giving gifts but without the stress and financial misery that follows. In the end, what we all want and desire more than gifts is connecting and spending time with the ones we love, and that, my friends, is priceless.
I don't know anyone who would want a friend or a family member to go into debt to receive a gift. If you don't have the cash to buy gifts this year, don't. I know how scary that sounds, but I assure you the more dangerous part is you using your credit cards to finance Christmas gifts for months or years to come. Speak to your loved ones and let them know your situation. Then find a creative and free way to let them know how much you care about them.
You may be surprised to find out that your friends and family will probably be just as relieved as you are to forgo financing Christmas gifts.
Give of yourself. In keeping with the true message of Christmas, look for an opportunity to do something for someone who cannot do it for themselves. Giving really is better than receiving, making for a holiday season you will not soon forget.
What are you doing to combat the message of consumerism and keep your holiday spirit this Christmas season?
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