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# Monday, December 15, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014 8:21:50 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( Finance )
The Christmas season is upon us once again! A time for good cheer, appreciating family, tasty treats and of course gift giving.

The holiday season is also well known for being one of the most stressful times of the year, and at least part of this stress can be attributed to a tight financial situation coupled with the expectations of gift giving.

Here are some innovative ideas for making your budget stretch further and also getting the most out of the holidays.

Idea #1: Rethink the Meaning of Christmas

Admittedly, this first tip has nothing to do with making your budget go further.

It does have everything to do with having less stress and more happiness during this festive season. And happiness is directly proportional to expectations.

So what is the meaning of Christmas? The commercials and ads we are bombarded with during Christmas insist that we have to buy more things in order to be happy. The message is that we will be a better parent, sibling, etc. the more gifts we buy for the people around us.

However, without getting into the religious particulars, shouldn’t Christmas have more to with treating everyone around us with kindness and good will? How about spending some more time with family and friends? Or how about helping out those people who are less fortunate than ourselves?

Maybe this is a good time to chew this over for awhile and then discuss it with our family members. More appreciation for family and fewer expectations for material things just might introduce some more “ho ho ho” this holiday season!

Idea #2: Draw Names for Gifts

A super simple way to reduce holiday expenditures is to draw names for gifts. This reduces the amount of money we spend and just as importantly results in less time we have to spend shopping for presents.

Small children can be the exception to name drawing if everyone agrees to this. (Let’s face it, we all love to see a child’s face light up when they get a cool gift they like)!

Another added bonus is that you can spend a bit more money on the one gift you are responsible for. In other words, there are fewer but more expensive gifts at the expense of many smaller presents.

Along with drawing names there are often limits that everyone agrees to in order to prevent that old "I spent more money on gifts than I received" situation.

Another option is the "secret Santa", whereby the gift giver assumes the alias of Santa Claus so that the recipient of the present does not know where it came from.

Idea #3: Start Christmas Shopping Early for Deals

Another way to save a bit of money is to keep an eye out for great deals well before the festive season commences.

Not only can you save money doing this but you also cut down on the amount of time spent shopping. Get it done early and then relax while watching others run around until the last instant desperately searching for that “perfect” gift which seems to be out of stock at every store they visit.

Of course, this only works if you have some great hiding spots for those presents!

Idea #4: Make Your Own Gifts

If you have the spare time and necessary skills you might want to consider making your own personalized gift.
These presents can be almost anything in nature. Just some examples are:
  • Homemade Christmas treats (e.g. a gingerbread house, yummy)
  • Knitting a scarf or sweater
  • Crocheting a blanket, table cloth or doily
  • Making a toy (or candle holder, etc.) uses your woodworking skills
  • Making bath salts or some other type of beauty product
  • Framing a favourite family picture
  • Making your own Christmas cards

Idea #5: Consider Charitable Donations

In keeping with the spirit of “it is better to give than receive”, you might consider giving to a worthy charitable cause in someone’s name for an agreed upon amount of money.

There are numerous charities that are especially active over the holidays, helping out others less fortunate than ourselves. Just some examples are the The Salvation Army and food drives for local food banks (many grocery stores have a drop-off where you can leave groceries for the food bank to pick-up).

Of course, for this to go over well it is advisable that everyone know about this beforehand!

Conclusion

We hope you found at least one idea in this blog article to be innovative as well as appealing.

Isn’t it in giving that we truly receive?

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!