Tag Archives: Christmas

Preparing for Christmas early.

MerryCrisisNow that the Christmas season is over you may be asking yourself “How am I going to do this better next year?”  Preparing for Christmas can be easy if you know what you want to do.

Many of us get carried away with the “Christmas spirit” and spend more than we intended to.  Maybe this is even done with the best intentions, we love the people we are buying for and we want to bless them but there are smart ways to do it and not so smart ways.

  1. Start a Christmas account – Many banks still offer these accounts you setup your direct deposit to do a small amount everyPrepare for Christmaspaycheck and then they mail you a check in October.  We don’t use a traditional “Christmas” account but a simple savings account from Capital one 360.  We just pull out the money we will need come shopping time.  The table to the left can show you how much you can save based on your pay period.
  2. Plan ahead and buy at the right time – Prices fluctuate throughout the year depending on the product.  Air conditioners are less expensive in the winter than they are in the spring.  If there is a larger ticket item that  you know you are going to buy for the holidays plan ahead and buy it when it is cheapest.  How do you know when things are cheapest?  Lifehacker had you covered.
  3. Determine your plan – Do you need to buy for everyone you know?  Or even everyone in your family?  No you don’t.  You can trade names and do a secret Santa, so you can buy one gift that matters instead of a couple of dozen gift cards.  We have decided to do a “Want, Need, Wear, Read” approach within our family so we are limiting the items we are exchanging.  Hopefully this will prevent crap from building up in our kids’ play room.
  4. Work the system – This takes a little bit of work but you can buy gift cards to buy your gifts and get rewards for doing so.  Our local Kroger offers discounts on gas when you spend money at groceries, including gift cards.  We do most of our shopping on Amazon so we first go to the store and  buy gift cards.  Then we get discounts on the gas we will use to go over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers house.  If you are disciplined enough you can even use a rewards credit card to get some rewards that way.

Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful if we plan ahead what steps have you taken or do you want to take in order to be prepared for Christmas next year.

Image by decar66

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Christmas, Materialism and the Christian

Christmas MaterialsmLet’s face it, this time of year even the best of us have a hard time fighting off Christmas materialism.  Christians have often allowed the secular marketing powers to dictate what is means to celebrate Christmas.  Whether that is buying the newest and greatest toy for our kids (or ourselves) or forgetting what it is we are really celebrating.

I want to put out a warning to us all, including myself to guard our hearts and direct them to the real purpose of the season.  Do I love the lights, the songs, the traditions of Christmas time? Yes, I love seeing them through my kids eyes and seeing them anew myself.  I love even more when those traditions push us toward Christ and away from the values of our secular society.

Think about how you celebrate Christmas and what is communicates to your family and those around you.  We celebrate advent, a church period starting at the end November and ending on Christmas.  Advent means arrival and we do things during this time to help our family remind ourselves of the significance of Jesus birth.  We have never done the Santa thing (we do love St. Nick).  We give gifts not based on good works, but on grace.  We have made sure our kids realize that this isn’t a time to “be good” but to realize you are bad and God loved you regardless and sent in son to die for you.  We remind them of this with a Christmas Eve birthday cake for Jesus.

We don’t want our girls to look at this as a jackpot time for themselves, but as a time of thankfulness and giving.  We don’t buy a lot, but maybe more than many.  We make sure they spend their own money to buy for each other and the girls we sponsor through Compassion International.  I hope to protect them, at least a little, from the materialism that is so prevalent this time of year.  Do we do it right? Not sure, but we are being intentional in our approach to the holiday.  Being intentional and not allowing this time to run a muck is a great first step to fighting off Christmas Materialism.

How do you guide your children and yourselves through this holy time of the year?

 

Image by Sonya News under CC Attribution

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