Well, its that time of the year again where, no matter how much you plan ahead for the holiday season, there are expenses that come up. I put money into the budget starting in September for Christmas gifts, which covers what we need for our family and friends. What I never think about are all of the other things that come around this time of year. And I doubt we are the only ones that feel like everyone has their hands out at this time of year. A few examples…read as though this comes in one breath…
Teachers need gifts, adopted families who are down on their luck have needs, charities need more during this challenging time of year, bosses need gifts, as do employees if you are a boss yourself, schools and team sports need new uniforms and are selling holiday related items, Holiday concert clothes need bought, pictures need to be taken, dogs need to be groomed (for same said picture), and, of course, gallons upon gallons of hot chocolate need to be bought, made, and enjoyed as we drive around looking at the Christmas lights on houses and businesses.
So, everyone has their hand out and so many expenses that you might as well throw the budget out the door by the second week. And most of these are $10 here, $15 there, but they do add up. But, I’m not sure its the cost as much as the surprise element of it. One of my peers bought our boss a gift, without asking, and just informed me the other day that my share was $15. Nice to know when its two days before payday and my budget balanced perfectly and an extra $15 did not exist. The question becomes, when the ends do not meet, where do you decide to become the Scrooge. A little creativity can go a long way.
- Holiday clothes – second-hand thrift stores – the kids are on stage for 2 minutes and no one will notice
- Employee gifts – cards of appreciation along with a breakfast one morning of donuts
- Boss gifts – card of appreciation also with the offer to take him/her out of lunch one day but after the crazy holiday schedule
- Holiday pictures – there is an argument that every other year is enough, but I think I lost that one. Go to a decent place and pick out one or two. You can always copy them later, if you are interested in breaking copyright law.
- Dogs needs groomed – its getting cold, they need their fur when he goes outside to raise a leg so wait for January
- Hot chocolate – a must, but less while driving around a shorter distance. And this means less bathroom breaks too.
I don’t believe taking any of these short-cuts will land you with Jacob Marley wrapped in chains for all eternity. There is nothing wrong with taking the cheaper path in these instances and putting your family and the family finances first. But, there must always be a place for charities. While writing this I am reminded of the people that do not have a home or food to feed themselves or gifts to give. We are lucky because we are employed, have a roof over our head, and gifts and love to give. But, there are no shortcuts when it comes to charitable giving. I remember a saying from a pulpit years ago…”Give until it hurts”. That struck me at the time and really resonates with me today because giving should not be about pain. Giving should be about being joyful and pleasurable. Even if it is only a little that can be spared this time of year, it all helps. And, if it is a little, then your time can be valuable as well. And, not just at the end of the year, but each month as well. I’ve served at food kitchens before where people with so many challenges come in for a break and some warm food. Just having them sit down so they can be waited on can be so rewarding. There is more to come on this topic of charitable giving. But I urge that you can be a Scrooge to your family and to your co-workers, just not to those less fortunate than you.
What we just saw folks was a reality version of the Grinch’s heart getting bigger while he wrote this piece above!
Perhaps the mindset of giving during the holiday season needs to be changed. Not in regards to the act of giving but rather to the timing! Gifts of appreciation to those above and below us on the corporate ladder should be sporadically given throughout the year. Why save them for year end only?! Perhaps that gift will be even more meaningful to the employee / employer if it is given outside of the holiday season, when it may feel expected and regarded as less thoughtful than intended.
But maybe with careful planning you can satisfy everyone? For example, a local animal rescue group we support sells bottles of wines with a special label graced by a recent rescue as a fundraiser. Our daughter’s team sells economical “green” bags every fall and wine bags is one of the size choices. And we know that each of our managers love a great wine and some even have a secret stash in their office desk at this very moment. So here we can a) give our bosses a gift that is unique, b) support a charity, and c) buy from our daughter who gets a small prize while 50% of everything she sells goes back into her account to pay for competition fees. So win / win / win !!! Now I just need to remember this for next year!
And the dog needs to be groomed! It does nothing for his self-confidence when the K-9 dog down the street laughs his bobbed tail off every time he sees our poor overgrown shaggy (frequently mistaken for the mop) poodle.
Happy holiday season of giving to everyone!