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10 Steps to Make Christmas Affordable and Fun

Simple Living (featured column)
Submitted by Deann Curtis

1. Keep your focus on Christ.

Spend time remembering why we have Christmas each day. Read scripture. Light a candle in honor of Christ. Put out a nativity scene for the whole family to enjoy. It can even be one that the children make.

2. Spread your celebrating out over the whole season. 

We begin our Christmas celebrating before the beginning of December and keep at it until Three King's Night on January 5. We make Advent calendars in November to use all during December. We put out stockings or boots the night before St. Nicholas Day. We celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas Eve with a birthday cake.

Then on Three King's Night we read stories about the three kings that came to visit Jesus. We also read about other people around the world and the ways that they celebrate. Spreading out the holiday spreads out the expense of celebrating, helps keep the focus on Christ and helps us to avoid the big let-down that some people feel when Christmas is over.

3. Give of yourself. 

By giving your time and energy at Christmas, you will help your family to take their focus off of themselves. It will also make it easier to feel grateful. No matter what you have or don't have, someone has less. Give to them. You could read to older people, go caroling, bake some cookies and visit with some lonely people. Donate some of your extra stuff cluttering up your house to a charity or volunteer in any other way that fits your family.

4. Remember your traditions.

The warm feelings at Christmas come from being together and doing things together. Not just from the gifts that are hiding under the tree.

5. Feed your senses.

Overeating at Christmas is easy to do. But by feeding all of your senses during the holiday, your diet doesn't have to suffer.

The sense of sight can be fed a menu of Christmas lights, snowy mountains, a freshly cleaned home, candles lit at night and smiling faces.

The sense of hearing should be fed a steady diet of Christmas hymns, children's laughter and pleasant conversation.

The sense of touch will be comforted with extra blanket throws on the couch, warm slippers and snuggly hugs from cheerful children. But don't forget to excite it with a good snowball fight too.

The sense of smell will feel right at home during the holidays if you remember it too. Light scented candles, simmer some potpourri, bring in some pine boughs for decoration and ok bake a few batches of cookies. But, if they are not on your diet you could always give them away.

6. Start a new tradition.

Talk with your family and come up with some new traditions. Maybe you want to have a cookie exchange, a singing party, a decorating party for the grandparents or a neighbor, a walk through a snowy park or a maybe progressive dinner. Try to pick something that everyone can afford to do.

7. Use your community resources for free or low cost activities.

Do your children belong to a scouting club? Be sure to take part in those activities. They are usually planned to be affordable. Go to your community parades. Play in a snowy park if you don't have a big yard. Visit the library for special books to read during the holidays. Attend school or church concerts or plays.

8. Cook up some memories.

Even if you are on a diet, you can still enjoy special holiday food. Cook traditional foods that your mother and grandmothers cooked when you were a child. If you can't find a recipe, you will probably be able to find one on the internet, or in a cookbook.

Bake several batches of cookies. Serve some hot cider or cocoa after a day of being out in the cold. You could also hold a tea party for your children, extended family, neighbors or anyone else. It feels so good to take a break and relax with a cup of tea and a cookie.

9. Play together.

Spending time playing with your children will make the holiday so much brighter for the whole family. Gifts from last Christmas will still be cherished if you find the time to play together with them. Have a game night. Play as many games in a night as you can. Or you could have a tournament night. Play checkers until the champion is determined. Sit down with the kids and build a fantastic new creation with their Legos or play with their doll house with them.

10. Make gift giving count.

Give gifts that you know people want. It is less costly to buy the right gift for someone that you know they will enjoy, than it is to just buy gifts to fill up your list. You can also save money on gifts by giving things that will really be used and are needed.

Think about stuffing stockings with school supplies, hair care items, small items of clothing, a toothbrush, a paperback book or a magazine. If you can't afford to give everything to everyone, consider getting your children started on a collection. Maybe your could buy them the first book in a series of books and buy more for them as gift giving holidays come up.

Or buy your children some group items. Perhaps you want to buy them a set of action figures and can't afford to give them each a big set of toys but you feel you have to be fair. Well, you could get them each one action figure and together they could receive a large part of the set. Of course this works with girls too. Together they could receive a doll house and separately they could each get an extra thing to go with it.

Remember, however things work out at your house this year, it is the love and the joy that the children will remember. Think back to how you enjoyed the pains your own parents took to make Christmas special. You probably don't remember what each gift under the tree was, but I bet you remember the wonderful feeling you had because you were loved at Christmas.

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Copyright © 2002 by Deann Curtis. All rights reserved.

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