What are you doing for Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or whatever Winter holiday you celebrate?
Do your children watch commercials and fill up letters to Santa with requests for the latest plastic whatever to be under the tree? Are you dreaming of an H.D. T.V. and a Blu-Ray player or other such electronic goodie? Is your husband or wife hinting for that fashionable name brand suit or dress or shoes or handbag to be neatly wrapped and festively beribboned?
While it might be too late for you this year, think ahead to next year.
This year I am giving to my loved ones:
Home-made fleece pajamas and home-made bedroom slippers plus a matching fleece throw for a daughter that always complains of the cold. I included in her package a store bought mug and several packages of home-made cocoa mix. The perfect "cold Winter's night" care package!
For one son, a souvenir shot glass, plus a home-made shelf to display his shot glass collection on and a home-made terrycloth bathrobe.
For another son, home made fleece covered pillows for his bed, a tee shirt he wanted and an IOU coupon for a *Mom made* dinner with all his favorite foods. (He'll cash it in before New Years, I'm sure!)
For the man in my life; a home made braided rug for his bedside, a ring, a pewter goblet, a wooden chest and a hand-made quilt (I made).
For many friends and family I made home-made cookies or specialty bread, scarves from fabric remnants, throws made from fleece bought at the after Christmas sales. Hats , gloves and scarves bought in July for 80% off. Several purses bought in February. Bath gift sets and cologne sets bought at after Christmas sales for 75% off and stored (carefully) for Christmas 2008. Home made bath salts and bath oils in pretty baskets lined with home-made back scrubbers (made from terry cloth).
I added it up...are you ready?
My total, my TOTAL, including shipping, wrapping paper, fabric...everything except my time (which I freely give)
That's right Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars.
Gifts for 14 people total.
I do not dread after Christmas bills, as I have none. I use no credit cards (I don't have any!).
I buy a little something or make a little something every month. A couple hours a month, or a weekends fun project. Some things require a bit more effort than others, but all the projects I have mentioned above are easy enough for everyone to accomplish.
I want you to do something...not for me, but for yourself.
Look around your living room after the celebrations. Look at the discarded wrapping paper and jumbled boxes, everything shredded and laying about. Look at the gifts.
Will the gifts profit you in any way? Will they keep you or a member of your family warm or fed or educate them or teach them a skill? If it is a *luxury item*, will you still be paying for it in a month? Three months? Six months? Next Christmas?
Think about this when you see those after Christmas sales. Clear out a closet or a place in your attic or basement and put Christmas purchases there. Make a list and buy one or two gifts a month. Make a few gifts here and there. Cross names off your list as you get your gifts.
DO NOT BUY ANYTHING ON CREDIT! CASH ONLY!
Next Winter, as you sit there basking in the glow of the tree lights or fireplace or candles....look around again. If you have followed these suggestions, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your kids are playing with toys that are paid for, your relatives will be receiving gifts made by your own efforts and you will not dread the bills coming like a blizzard in January.