First of all, let me clarify. “Black” is referring to being on the good side of your bank account, “in the black,” as opposed to being in the red, overdrawn, or in debt. How does one stay in the “black” during the season of overspending? Gift-giving doesn’t have to mean going into debt or draining your savings. Gift-giving is supposed to come from the heart, anyway, not Amazon. So how do you do it? I can tell you how I do it.
1. Set a spending limit per person or per gift, whether it’s $5 or $500. Don’t allow yourself to go over that.
2. Set a gift limit for kids and grandkids. For our kids, hubby and I limited their number of gifts to three, like the gifts from the three wise men to the baby Jesus. If one was a big ticket item, we added two smaller items. We also filled a stocking for each of them, and everything fit inside (most of the time). We are limiting ourselves to two gifts per grandchild, usually pajamas and a toy. They have so much already I think their parents appreciate limits.
3. Stop buying for friends, coworkers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, business owners, etc. If you must give them gifts, bake cookies or give them gift cards and candy. You have to set a limit on gift card amounts, though. One gift I like to give is a unique coffee mug filled with candy or Christmas trash.
4. Make your gift decisions and stick to them. I’m the world’s worst about choosing something and then second-guessing myself about whether they will like the gift, it’s appropriate, they already have it, etc. Just make your choice and let that be it. If they already have something like it, it’s up to them whether or not to keep it or toss it or even re-gift it. That is out of your control. Isn’t it the thought that counts anyway?
5. Don’t underestimate thrift stores and garage sales. Where is it written that a gift has to be new to be valuable? My sister has a knack for finding wonderful gifts at thrift stores that make mine look paltry in comparison. There I go again. . .
6. Stop comparing your gifts to others. For my grandson’s first birthday, we gave him a toy and some clothes, I believe. His other grandparents gave him company stock. I’m happy they have those kinds of resources and can give him a good financial start. We don’t and can’t, and comparing is pointless. Our grandson knows we love him.
7. If you can’t afford the fancy clothes or giving parties, don’t do it. Thrift stores are great resources for clothes; so is borrowing from a friend. Let those with more resources than you give the parties. You can bring a special treat in your borrowed or thrifted outfit.
8. Stop trying to impress. That isn’t what Christmas is about. Do what you can do and let it be enough. Focus on the meaning.
9. Give people the gift of you. How you make them feel when they are with you is what they remember, not some fancy store-bought present you couldn’t really afford.
Let’s see if you can make this holiday a “black” Christmas! I’d love to hear your ideas.