Simple Christmases that are low on cost but high on meaning are possible according to Janet family financial education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
In fact, she says a $10 limit is possible if you carefully plan your holiday spending.
The first step to achieving a small holiday limit is to make the decision to hold down spending.
“Tell relatives and friends you can’t afford to exchange gifts. This can be hard to do, but you may find that keeping holiday spending down can pay off in some unexpected ways,” said LaFon.
Next, decide how to spend your budgeted Christmas funds. Will some be spent on the adults, or will it all be spent on the children?
Be creative when shopping for inexpensive gifts. According to LaFon, it is amazing how many things you can find for children: balloons, bubble mixture, magnifying glasses, magnets, jump ropes, jacks, supplies for craft projects, crayons and glue.
Adults can exchange beautiful and often touching gifts which cost little or no money. Some ideas include an original poem, handcrafted items that are sewn, knitted, crocheted, needle pointed, built or painted, or coupon booklets for free meals or babysitting.
“Families who have tried this low-cost Christmas have found it was the nicest they’ve ever had. Older children feel they are playing an important part in helping the family through a difficult time. Young children rarely complain about broken toys on the day after Christmas. And adults enjoy the feeling of knowing there won’ be large bills to try to pay in January,” said LaFon.
NO CHRISTMAS DEBT
While a ten-dollar Christmas may sound extreme, the idea of setting a limit and sticking to it may be appealing. If your budget is tight, why not try a $10, $25 or $50 Christmas?
“When January and February arrive, you won’t feel so overwhelmed by the bills that appear in your mailbox. Also, you may feel a sense of pride in sticking to your budget and perhaps giving of yourself rather than the bounty found on the stores’ shelves,” said LaFon.
There is also a good chance those inexpensive and thoughtful gifts will bring out the best in everyone and will be more meaningful.
A simple card from a girlfriend with a homemade coupon for free babysitting was one of the best gifts Annette FitzGerald, former family financial education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, ever received.
“We were both single parents at the time and both of us had limited budgets. It was special because she gave of herself and provided a service for me and my son,” said FitzGerald.
For more ideas, download a free copy of MU Extension publication GH3600 Money Management: Living on Less.