Around this time of year we are bombarded with a million images of the “perfect Christmas”, for the most part these messages are designed to induce us to spend money, often on unnecessary stuff, which may end up becoming tomorrow’s clutter! I have tried to be really deliberate about my spending this year. I have set a budget for gifts and groceries and so far I have stuck with it. I have made some home-made gifts and have made a menu for my Christmas cooking and written shopping lists accordingly. I find that planning is one of my best allies to countering mindless spending.

Chocolate coconut ballsThe past couple of years we have been following Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, which is a really practical guide to getting out of debt and living free of financial bondage. We have made some great strides and so I am very keen to keep financially fit and not go silly over Christmas. My main strategy to avoid unnecessary spending is to avoid going to the shops too many times. It seems that shopping centres are set up to try to extract as much cash as possible from unsuspecting shoppers!

Christmas VillageNow is probably a really good time to slow down and really think before you just jump into all the hype. Of course, it is lovely to give gifts and have special treats and meals with your loved ones at this time, I’m just saying that I want to be intentional about my spending, not mindless. After all it won’t be a blessing to your family if after Christmas you are faced with credit card debit and financial stress!

Homemade Peach Jam.
Homemade Peach Jam.

There are lots of ways to make Christmas special for your family without breaking the bank. Get your kids involved in some Christmas baking, you can find some simple recipe’s for Christmas treats such as rocky road, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter balls in previous blogs. Enjoy some craft with your kids, like making Christmas gift tags or cards or doing some “art work” for loved ones. Spend time together decorating the house for the season, don’t go and buy new decorations, instead let your “old” decorations become treasured heirlooms! One nice tradition we have done is to give our sons a personalised tree decoration each Christmas Eve. They now have quite a collection, which one day they will be able to put on their own Christmas trees. This needn’t be expensive, many of the decorations I have bought them have been only a few dollars from Spotlight or Kmart and I personalise and date them with a permanent marker!

Some of our Christmas "heirlooms" on our "temporary" Christmas tree which we bought twenty one years ago.
Some of our Christmas “heirlooms” on our “temporary” Christmas tree which we bought twenty one years ago.

So I hope you take some time to slow down and really consider your actions this Christmas season, so that you can really enjoy some peace and goodwill and not wind up exhausted and stressed in the pursuit of peace! Also, if you have a deep yearning for true peace in your life, now is a great time to consider the claims of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. You can find some helpful information here and here.

May God bless you at this special time of year!