I recently watched a news story that said Americans aren't slowing down their holiday purchases despite being squeezed by the higher prices of inflation. To make matters worse, people are charging record amounts to their credit cards in order to buy their gifts (even though the average credit card's APR now tops 19%). This needs to stop.
Imagine a Christmas when you don't feel the pressure to outspend and outperform the You from last year. When at the end of it, you feel more relaxed than when it started instead of feeling burnt out. This can happen, and it can happen THIS YEAR. Breaking the traditional holiday cycle of consumerism and stress can mean you can slow down, enjoy your time with loved ones, and not break the bank every holiday season. Here are some ways you can intentionally turn the tables and have a truly "merry" Christmas with your family. Even if you don't have young children, these tips can easily apply to friends, adult children, and other loved ones. There's no age limit on spending quality time together, spreading cheer to others, and making memories in lieu of spending money.
- Remember that the best gift you can give your children is your time and attention.
- Make and decorate holiday treats together.
- Encourage your children to donate gifts to Santa. Get a big Santa bag and let your kids fill it with toys that Santa can give to other kids, and he'll leave new ones for your kids. Donate the toys to a charity to help make another kid's Christmas special.
- Put together "kindness packs" filled with goodies to make the holidays brighter for your neighbors, the garbage truck driver, or the delivery drivers.
- Consider non-toy gifts that are meaningful to your children, like a children's museum membership, tickets to an event or the movies, going on a hike or a picnic with you, or items that align with their interests, like kitchen tools or a sewing kit.
- Make an advent calendar.
- Have a de-cluttering week before the New Year to start the year off right.
- Make homemade ornaments or another Christmas craft.
- Start a new tradition of the "four gifts of Christmas," where you focus on buying 1) something they want, 2) something they need, 3) somewhere to go, and 4) something to read.
- Say no to the extra parties to stay in, relax, and enjoy family time.
Remember to focus less on perfection and more on the memories you are making. That is what truly counts.