Okay, the Works for Me Wednesday involves sharing what works for us during Christmas. I have loved reading everyones ideas and tips. It's hard not to repeat some.
1. Set a budget...for before and after. I am always amazed at how much people spend (and then complain about how much they spent). Now, I know if we had more money we would spend more money because we love blessing people, so that's not the issue. I don't care if you spend $1,000, or $300....as long as you have it to spend. Throughout the year we have an envelope set up for "Christmas money", and each paycheck, something goes into it. At times we add more. If we get a bonus that might go to it as well. This year we're building a house and there's not that much in there. But what is in the envelope is what gets divided and spent. there's no stress, no pressure, and no debt. And we can't complain because we've spent money we didn't have.
2. Use Christmas cards as an opportunity to pray for people. Throughout the Christmas season take the opportunity to pick a few cards a day and pray for that family. After Christmas place them in a basket and pray regularly for them.
3. Don't do it all yourself. Enlist the help of family and friends to prepare and clean up any meals. You want to be able to join in on the fun.
4. Write notes to your kids on your gifts. I know I shared this somewhere, but on the gift tags for our kids, we write little notes..."KAT you are an amazing young lady. we are proud of you", or "NAN..thanks for making us smile". They have to read them out loud.
5. Don't feel like you have to break the bank to spend on others. We set a definite limit on spending for extended family. Otherwise it would be nuts. The kids swap names, and we buy a couple gift (our closer family here isn't large). If we were amongst all extended family we'd definitely do a gift swap and make the price limit small. You can find some great gifts for under $20 if you look and are creative. And they don't have to be lame-O, just well thought out. We are youth pastors and we love to buy for some of our leaders and youth and there is just no way we could spend $20 + on gifts for family and friends and still have money for our own kids and each other.
6. Have fun and don't get caught up in the stresses of the holiday. Especially shopping. Yeah, lines are long and people are crazy and you have to walk a mile once you've parked your car. Sing some Christmas songs. Skip with your kids, just have fun!