An Inexpensive Christmas

- Ardelle T. Merton () - November 7, 2007 - 12:00am

Eleven months – didn’t they just go by in a blink? It’s Christmas time again and no, your 13th month pay wasn’t legislated for gift-shopping. Being broke should not be an obstacle to celebrating Christmas, which, after all, commemorates the birth of Jesus in a simple manger in a stable on a cold night. Nowhere in biblical accounts does it say that the Holy Family went shopping. Yet we mark the occasion by going to the mall in herds, wading through thick crowds losing our tempers over store service and getting into debt. Christmas, the most austere of events, is now celebrated with a shopping frenzy.

Indeed the times have changed but the old adage hasn’t: It’s the thought that counts. Having a limited budget for gifts – if you must insist on getting one for everybody you know – is no cause for stress, as long as you stick to your budget. Here are some practical tips on how you can play Santa Claus without looking like Scrooge:

1. Buy the same gift for each one in your group of friends. You may give, for example, a bottle of lotion for the ladies (and the effeminate ones) and a bottle of aftershave for the gents. You may add variety to the gifts by choosing different colors or scents. This way you can stick to your budget for each, be fair to all and save lots of time!

2. Give food (but no fruitcake, please). Does anybody really eat fruitcake? I’d like to know. On the other hand, a mini-cake or a box of sylvannas would be a delicious treat for just about anybody. A whole box of goodies can be less expensive than a shirt, wallet, etc. Elder people tend to stave off sugar but most likely, they would share it with their children anyway. Food is a safe gift choice and I must say, elaborate cake decorations make way for a very lovely, presentable gift!

3. Throw a potluck party at home. Have everyone bring a dish good for the number of guest invited. It saves you from mulling over cooking decisions and especially from having to eat your own cooking. I tried this one Christmas, and I thought nobody would come because I figured most people would prefer a free meal. But it turned out all the friends I invited came and we feasted on pizza, pancit palabok and even lechon! It was a blast!

4. Cut your costs. Like an ailing business, the first thing a broke person must do is to cut costs and assess the necessities. Forego your thousand-peso dress of the week or the fashion season’s leather pumps you’ve been eyeing. Save your hard-earned cash, and spend it where it matters.

5. Give personalized items, which are pricelessly thoughtful. Some stores offer free pen engraving (but do this days in advance) or pillow embroidery. You may spell out the recipient’s name, a Christmas greeting or a short message. The customized touch makes a simple gift appear more expensive than it really is. Or if the person is a bookworm, choose out a book on the genre you know he/she is most interested in. When giving a book, be sure to write a short message on the first page – the message gives the book a personalized touch, too!

And remember to watch your valuables in crowded places! Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

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