Yes, that reads like a contradiction – how can Christmas be both richer and less expensive at the same time. It’s simply a matter of changing priorities. And the way Christmas is going these days, that’s something that a lot of us need to do.
The whole purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But in the past few decades, that purpose has become obscured by the perceived need to buy more and better gifts for everyone on the list, and to work tirelessly at creating the mythical “perfect Christmas.”
The end result of all that extra effort isn’t always producing a better Christmas. In fact, many times it takes on the appearance of an exhausting project at work that leaves you tired and drained by the time it’s over. Do you ever feel that way during or after Christmas?
If you do, it’s time to make a change. This Christmas season is an excellent time to start.
Lower The Emphasis On Gift Giving
From where I sit, gift giving is at the epicenter of what often turns into the Christmas nightmare. Not only does rampant gift giving turn Christmas into a major financial outlay, but there is also a major investment of time and effort. It’s all spent in an attempt to make everyone happy – to create the perfect Christmas, based on the gifts given.
There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts, but that should never take center stage.
In order to cut down on the emphasis on gift giving, try some of the following:
- If you have a large family, get together with everyone and set a dollar limit on the amount spent for gifts per-person.
- Cut back on the number of people you buy gifts for. For example, restrict it to giving gifts to children only, rather than adults as well.
- Set up a Christmas grab bag. That might mean that each family contributes one or more relatively small gifts to the grab bag, and the exchanges are mostly anonymous.
- Do a one-on-one gift exchange – everyone in the extended family pulls another person’s name out of a hat, and buys a single gift for that person.
- Within your own family, cut down the number of gifts to just two or three important ones for each person. You can make up for the “quantity factor” by buying a number of relatively inexpensive stocking stuffers.
- Rather than giving a gift, set aside time for some friends and family members – your time is often more important to loved ones than any gift you might give.
Using some or all of these methods will not only cut down the amount of money you’ll spend for gifts, but it will also save you time and trips to the shopping centers. By de-emphasizing the importance of gift giving, you’ll have a fighting chance at making your Christmas holiday richer in other ways.
Pot Luck Gatherings
Next to gift giving, having get-togethers is generally the most expensive and time-consuming Christmas activity. If you are holding a holiday gathering at your house, it can cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, and result in a lot of stress. But you can get around this by arranging potluck dinners.
Ask everyone you are inviting to bring a side dish and a dessert, while you supply the main course, drinks, and of course the house. This will not only save you money, but it will also reduce preparation time and stress. Since most people these days are dealing with their own financial struggles, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about asking others to help with preparations.
By reducing gift giving and replacing full-on Christmas gatherings with potluck dinners, you’ll be clearing the decks to create a richer Christmas.
Put Christ Back In Christmas
If you are Christian, putting Christ back in Christmas should be obvious. But as Christians we’re often disproportionately influenced by the culture around us, and we can easily lose sight of this. We can get caught up chasing all of the typical holiday “bells and whistles” that everyone else does.
This isn’t just about going to church more often. Set aside some extra time to reflect on who Jesus was, and what He has meant to you in your life. Dive even deeper into the Bible than you do at other times of the year. Take a shot at singing in the church choir during the holiday season, even if you can’t sing. Singing is a form of group worship that can have a profound effect on your life.
The deeper you get into the real meaning of Christmas, the easier it will be for you to avoid all the other excesses that have become so common – and so draining – during the holiday season.
And as a Christian, the Christmas season can be a time of reflection and reconnection, that will help set the tone of your faith for the coming new year.
Look For Opportunities To Volunteer
Volunteering is a form of putting your faith into action. During the Christmas season, churches and other charities are working overtime. There are more needs at this time of the year than any other. It‘s not just the holiday – winter is also setting in, causing problems for the less fortunate. As it says in the Bible, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few…” – Matthew 9:37. Christmas is an outstanding time to join in and become one of those workers.
Christmas is the season of giving, and there’s no better way to give than by volunteering your time. And there are no better people to give that time to than to those in need. Despite the widespread holiday celebrations, there are many households that can’t afford a special Christmas dinner, or gifts for their children. There are so many ways you can help make Christmas the season it’s supposed to be for people who can’t otherwise afford it.
What many people don’t realize is that when you give to other people, the feeling that you get as a result is the greatest gift of all. Most of us don’t feel as if we can make a difference, but you can – especially at Christmas.
Will you dare to be different this Christmas, and try to have a richer holiday in the process?