Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas on a Budget Can Still Be Great





Many people have so little money to spend on just the basics that when Christmas comes along it's often a real struggle to buy presents, get a tree, decorate the house or all the other things during the Christmas season that you really want to do. In this article which comes from Christmas Joy When You're Broke from the wonderful blog: All in All, are a few suggestions for having a great Christmas on a budget.




How do those of us without a money tree make Christmas special, memorable, and fun for our families

Simply Amazing Christmas means slowing down, being still and enjoying the moment, holding our children tightly, speaking kind words, being thankful, and remembering the love that makes Christmas peace possible. 

Now, let's enjoy a simply amazing holiday. Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas without breaking the bank:

Set a budget for Christmas presents and stick with it. Let your family members know what the budget will be so they can adjust their expectations accordingly.

Be sure to budget all of the other things that go along with the holidays such as cookie baking, travel, Christmas pictures, Christmas cards and postage, pet boarding if traveling, decorations, holiday meals, holiday parties, extra gifts for gift office/school exchanges and teachers, holiday tips, etc.

Save all year long! Check with your bank to see what kind of savings club accounts they offer. You can deposit a small amount from each pay check into your Christmas club savings account and then you'll receive a payout plus interest when you're ready to begin Christmas shopping. So smart!

Volunteer. Do some research to see what homeless shelters, food banks, animal shelters, and ministries need donations and volunteers during the Christmas season. Make volunteering a part of your family Christmas tradition!

Attend a Christmas church service. If you belong to a church that will be holding a special Christmas service, be there! If you do not, then find one! If you love Christmas Eve services and your church isn't having one, don't write your pastor a complaint letter (like, seriously don't) just find another church to visit on that night. Christmas services are a wonderful way to reflect and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Go Christmas caroling! This is so much fun and is a wonderful way to bring joy to others. Invite friends to meet at your house and ask them to bring a few dozen cookies to share. Split them up onto paper Christmas plates, wrap them well, then head out to a few location to sing and deliver cookies! Check with nursing homes and hospitals to see about caroling there and treating the staff to Christmas cookies. After the caroling, head back to your house to relax with your friends. Play Christmas music, eat cookies, and drink hot chocolate. Fun!

Shop consignment sales for gently used toys that your kids will love.

Give homemade gifts. Are you crafty? Make special gifts for friends, family, and teachers! Do you like to bake? Then make some awesome goodies, pack them in recycles cookie tins, tie them up with pretty ribbon, and deliver the yummy Christmas treats!

Play Christmas music. This may sound silly simple, but playing Christmas music costs nothing and adds a wonderful feeling to your home around the holidays.

Buy Christmas decorations... on December 26th! I have always made it a tradition to buy Christmas decorations and wrapping paper the day after Christmas at 50-75% off. Then I store the items until the next Christmas. By then I've forgotten what I purchased an opening the bags up is super exciting!

Do an Advent Calendar. Again, so simple, but really fun! You can make an Advent Calendar with your kids or buy one at the store. It is something simple and sweet to celebrate each day of December leading up to Christmas.

Have a Christmas movie night each week in December. Pull out some Christmas treats, get into your Christmas pjs, and have fun with Christmas classics like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and even Elf!

Wrap up 24 Christmas books in Christmas wrapping paper and read one each night of December. On Christmas morning read the Christmas story from the Bible before opening presents and say a prayer together as a family.

Cash in lose change. Do you have jars of change sitting around the house? Cash them in! It's surprising how coins can add up. Use the cash for presents or other items needed during the holidays.

Deliver some smiles! On Christmas morning after opening presents, visit a few places where people have to work that day and deliver some cookies and thank them for their service. Think about gas station attendants, nurses and doctors in hospitals, nursing home staff, etc.

Have a family game night. Pop some popcorn and enjoy some fun interaction with your family over some games. Be sure to play some Christmas music in the background!

Start a giant jigsaw puzzle on December 1st. Everyone in the family can work on the puzzle throughout the month.

Go for a drive and enjoy the Christmas lights around your town.

Use cash. Don't mortgage next year for this years shopping.





Being Kind During This Holiday Season






During this Christmas season perhaps we can all be a little kinder to one another.
Just being kind to others may not seem like much but even the smallest act of kindness is like a stone thrown into water with beautiful ripples flowing out from it that you may never see or know about.

Being kind to the earth and every creature living upon it is the ultimate in kindness.
If everyone did that there would be no war, no hunger or homelessness, no deforested lands, no polluted skies or poisoned waters.

So today perhaps we can all be a little kinder to one another, to our planet, and to the waters, the skies, the forests, and all the living creatures upon our beautiful Mother Earth.




Planning to be kind and caring.

Sometimes we imagine that a kind and caring person was born that way, but nothing could be further from the truth.
For most a conscious decision was made at some point in their lifetime to be a kind and caring person.
Then they set kindness goals and ideals to live by and  made plans and preparations to carry out that decision.

Kindness builds on itself. If you decide to do one kind act a day, for example, you will soon find that you are doing far more than that.
I don't know exactly why this is so but I've seen it happen over and over.

The acts don't have to be big either.
Opening a door for an elderly person is easy, takes just a second, and is a kind act that won't be forgotten. Other small acts of kindness that you can regularly incorporate into your day include letting people go ahead of you in lines, or letting a car into the stream of traffic, or commenting positively on the service in a store or a restaurant.

Then there are the little kindness's that are often forgotten or ignored in the home like truly listening to your spouse or to your children, or speaking with respect and affection rather than impatience or using discouraging or critical words or looks.





"Kindness is like snow-it beautifies everything it touches." -anonymous

"If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."
-William Penn

"Three things in human life are important.
The first is to be kind.
The second is to be kind.
The third is to be kind."
-Henry James




And be kind to yourself this holiday season too. Get out and have some fun like these ice skaters in Edinburgh Scotland are doing.