The beauty of the holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, or anything in between, is that you are able to let some of your sadness go by replacing it with the insurmountable pleasure of seeing someone else smile.
Or, is that really the case? The holidays are a great time to get with family, to bestow worthless gifts on your loved ones, or try to decide what the man in Accounting, who you drew the name for, likes. What if you make a mistake and choose the wrong gift for your spouse, child, great aunt on your mother’s side, or that accountant?
Does your generosity become overwhelmed? Do you try to go overboard in your endeavors to please others? What does this do to your personal well-being? The stress of the holiday season is unquestionable. Everyone feels some form of stress, whether it comes from going into credit card debt to buy the XBox-360 with K-Nex, or the Lexus that your wife has been eyeing for the whole year. We cannot avoid stress in our lives on a daily basis and the gift-giving season can increase these levels exponentially.
What to do about it? What a good question. The first thing would be to prepare your loved ones. Let them know early that you have limited funds and have a limit on what you can spend on each family member. This will give them the original idea to come up with suggestions that are neatly fit into the budget you have available. If you cannot afford a multi-thousand dollar gift for your wife, let her know early, and often.
Another way to overcome the stress of purchasing so many expensive or even pseudo-expensive gifts is to do what you are doing at the office. Instead of each person buying each other person a gift, leave the multiple presents for the children and each adult draw a name from the proverbial hat and that will be the only adult who you purchase a gift for. This would relieve much strain because adults have probably already bought all the things they are going to buy for themselves, and you may be able to spend a little bit more on a single good gift, rather than a couple of dollars on a lot of unnecessary gifts.
A third method to help reduce the costs to a single entity is to pool resources. If one of your family has asked for a rather expensive item, each person can split the cost of the item up and the person gets what they asked for without a great deal of expense to a single person.
Then there are those decorations. There is no reason that there should be neighborhood competition for the most lights on the block. Why would anyone care? Why would anyone go to the expense of trippling their electricity bill during the already very cold and expensive winter months? Instead, decorate your home with simplicity. A few lights that are adorned with garland can give off beautiful reflective lights that cost a fraction of the electric bill. Foil paper-chains are an inexpensive way to decorate your home, inside and out.
You can get artificial trees that look as good as the real thing. The beauty is that you buy it one time. You can even find them with lights already installed so that your decorating time budget is also cut. Who really likes to untangle those Christmas lights every season, anyway? If you cannot do without the lovely smell of fresh pine, consider a fresh wreath instead of an entire tree. They smell as lovely but take up much less of your money. Also, consider fire hazards; dry once-live Christmas trees can light up quickly.
The Christmas Feast is also a stressful occasion for one or two members of the family. Instead of one or two people footing the bill, each person should donate items to the adventure. Those who cook should be ready to bring, or prepare at the Christmas base house, those food items that will help make the meal complete. We all know that not everyone cooks, so others can help defray costs by bringing beverages, disposable plates and utensils, and other items that make the base house residents feel less stress. Those who did not cook should also be aware of the hard work involved and offer to clean up after the meal. It’s only right that everyone do equal parts of the work in order to ensure that there is no stress, or future animosity due to lack of consideration.
Family is important to us all, and the stress of making them happy is the greatest Christmas stress of all. If you can find ways to cooperate and coordinate with your adult family members, especially if you have a large family, you are less likely to find yourself in financial ruin during these holiday times. Black Friday aside, Christmas should not be about presents, it should be about togetherness with your loved ones; those who are close, and those who are remote.