Welcome guest blogger, Carol Ehlers, Human Sciences Specialist, Family Finance for this months topic on “Gits and Giving”
Simple Christmases that are low on cost but high on meaning are possible. In fact, a $10 limit per person is possible by carefully planning holiday spending.
The first step to achieving a small holiday limit is to make the decision to hold down spending. Tell relatives and friends you’re choosing to set a budget for exchanging gifts. This can be hard to do, but you may find that keeping holiday spending down can pay off in some unexpected ways.
Next, decide how to spend the budgeted Christmas funds. Will some be spent on the adults, or will it all be spent on the children?
Be creative by giving “low-cost experiences.” Many studies show that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling than things. A Cornell University 10 year study and Journal of Psychological Science report confirm why experiences have the ability to contribute to happiness more than material purchases. Successful low-cost experience examples range from pottery making, rock climbing, horseback riding, bowling or skate tickets. Consider “Every Kid Outdoors” (a free year-long national park pass everykidoutdoors.gov or geocache treasure hunts that end with ice cream. Consider sharing a skill or classes to experience sewing, painting or other similar activity. To keep it low-cost, find a family member, friend or community event to teach the skill at a discount.
Proven family focused gifts range from museum or science center memberships–to orchestra or community theater tickets– to a tent for camping. Sometimes a material gift can lead to an experience.
Families who have tried this low-cost Christmas have found it was more meaningful. Families that keep to their Christmas budget plan enjoy the feeling of financial security knowing there won’t be large bills to try to pay in January. There is also a good chance those inexpensive and thoughtful gifts will bring out the best in everyone and will be more meaningful.
We would love to hear about your inexpensive gift ideas! Share with us!
For more ideas download a free copy of ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Track Your Spending,” or “This is the Way I Spend My Money” a 12-month spending record.