spend less

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The second week of Advent Conspiracy has come and gone. It tends to be the most difficult week for me because we live in a culture that is the exact opposite of what this week is about. That’s the Kingdom Jesus calls us to live in though – the upside-down Kingdom.

[Spend Less]
Before you think we’re getting all Scrooge on you, let us explain what we mean. We like gifts. Our kids really like gifts. But consider this: America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason than obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? We’re asking people to consider buying ONE LESS GIFT this Christmas. Just one.  Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced something nothing less than a miracle: They have been more available to celebrate Christ during the advent season.
Looking for ways to give gifts that don't cost a lot of money? Have a few ideas you'd like to share? Head to
rethinkingchristmas.com today.
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We do this several ways at our house, but no matter how many ways we try to spend less, there always seems to be one more thing that we need during the holiday season. This isn’t even all about presents – think about how much money you spend during the holidays on clothing for special events, food for holiday parties and baking, eating out when your schedule is so busy you don’t have time to make something at home, decorating for your home…it’s a lot of money.

One of the things that I’ve done is recent years is less baking and creating goodies. Instead of fourteen different kinds of treats, I just make two or three. We don’t need all the sugar anyway. It’s saved far more money than I initially anticipated. It’s kind of sad how much I was spending on food supplies during the Christmas season. We also try to simplify our schedule which helps with clothing and food purchases. Still, these are small things. Let’s talk about what this week is really about:

Presents. We celebrate birthdays big here so we don’t lack opportunity to give gifts to one another, and I’d love to get away from the consumerism that gifting at Christmas puts in our lives. I suggest this link for inspiration (it sure has made me pause): When Christmas gets radical... I so wish this is where our family was right now. However, I think the important part of the Voskamp family decision was that it was child-led. I don’t want my children to have to give up all gifts at Christmas unless they themselves decide to, and right now they’re pretty little for that. So I continue to talk about spending less, giving to other things instead; I continue to say, “Christmas is not your birthday.” Someday, I pray this will be our family’s story as well.

In the meantime, we do three gifts for each child – one educational, one clothing item, and one toy/for-fun item. Even that is seeming like a lot this year. The children give each other stocking stuffers, so the amount of items seems large to me this year. I’ve been thinking of ways we can pare down. We’ve done a lot of used items this year. Once Upon a Child and EBay have been my friend when shopping for the kids. Ben has picked out a couple of toys that are his to give to his younger siblings, eliminating any cost at all. Maggie enjoys making things; she is good at crafty items for gifts.

In our extended families, we don’t do gifts at all. The grandparents have been giving one gift to each child, but the siblings definitely do not exchange gifts. And you know what? No one has missed it. It’s freeing to just be together – the gift of our presence…but that’s next week.

This post didn’t at all flow the way I’d hoped, but I hope that you are challenged to think about this week’s (truthfully, it was last week) focus nevertheless. What are some ways that you are trying to spend less during the holiday season? Ideas?

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