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Simple Christmas Traditions Can Still be Merry and Bright

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A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS CAN STILL BE MERRY AND BRIGHT


Copyright 2006 Nancy Twigg is the author of newly revised book, Celebrate
Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and
Special Occasions
.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
www.celebratesimply.com

The other day I heard something that surprised me. A recent
nationwide study showed that 70% of those polled planned to
spend the same amount or even more this Christmas than they
did last year. When I read this, I couldn't help but wonder who
the pollsters talked to when they did their poll.

They must not have talked to my friends, Chuck and Melinda,
who were both downsized from their jobs a few months ago.
They couldn't have contacted Mike and Faye, a single-income
family struggling since Mike lost his job. The survey surely
didn't include input from my friends Sarah or Rachel, both
of whom have been laid off for close to a year. Maybe someone,
somewhere is planning to spend more at Christmas, but certainly
not anyone I know.

The truth is that many Americans are facing the challenge of
celebrating the holidays this year on limited budgets due to
cutbacks and downsizing. This prospect can be both discouraging
and unnerving for those who have always done Christmas in a
big way. Even families who normally celebrate rather simply are
looking to simplify even more during these tight economic times.

Unfortunately, most Christmas traditions involve spending. Just
think about all the dollars each year that go for gifts, wrapping
paper, live trees, decorations, greeting cards and traditional
meals with all the trimmings. But for those experiencing layoffs
this year, spending a small fortune or charging up the credit
cards for these things is not a prudent option.

Are there ways to enjoy the holiday season without all the
spending? Thankfully the answer to this question is, "Yes!"
Here are some ideas for keeping the celebration simple, yet
meaningful for your family:

1) Handcrafted gifts and decorations

Experience the joy of giving something made with your own
two hands. Handmade gifts are not only unique but they also
show you care enough to invest time and energy into your
giving. Check out library books containing homemade gift
ideas or use Yahoo.com or Google.com to do an Internet
search. The same goes for decorating your home. Instead
of buying decorations, use your creative abilities plus things
you already have on hand to give your home a festive look
and feel.

2) Electronic Season's Greetings

Sending Christmas cards instead of gifts is a great way to
save money, but the cost of store-bought cards adds up
quickly. Even if you make your own, the cost of postage
can be restrictive for those on a tight budget. For friends
and relatives who use email, consider sending electronic
Christmas cards instead. Many websites send e-cards
for free, and they offer a wide variety of cards from which
to choose. Visit Gcards.com or 123greetings.com or do
an Internet search for other free greeting card sites.

3) Free family activities

When cutting corners, don't cut out all the fun. Look for
ways your family can enjoy quality time together without
spending. Check your newspaper's community calendar
for free church programs, musicals or community events.
Just driving around looking at Christmas lights while
sipping homemade hot cocoa can be great fun when you
do it together.

4) Focus on giving rather than receiving

Instead of moaning about what you can't afford this year,
why not focus on how you can give of yourself? Many non-
profit organizations need extra helping hands during the
holiday season. Contact your local Volunteer Center or
United Way office to inquire about opportunities for service
in your area. Volunteering together allows family members
to experience the joy of giving without expecting anything
in return.

5) Low-cost or no-cost gift giving

Rather than exchanging gifts with extended family members
and friends, plan a special evening together with each family
during the holiday season. Enjoy a simple meal and then
watch a favorite holiday movie or do a giant jigsaw puzzle
together while munching on popcorn and snacks. Another
option is to give gifts of time or service such as free baby-
sitting, housecleaning, cooking, etc., to those on your gift
list. Look for ways to give meaningfully instead of materially.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nancy Twigg is the author of newly revised book, Celebrate
Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and
Special Occasions
. Celebrate Simply is filled with ideas and insights to make all your holidays
and special occasions what you really want them to be.

You can order Celebrate Simply Here.
________________________________




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