What is hard for me:
Cutting back on Christmas.
Why, do you ask? Because I love giving gifts. Love, love, love it. I love it ten times more than receiving gifts; I love to give thoughtful, personal, some-what inspirational gifts to people. I love to know I've given some semblance of happiness. Kind of like Leslie on Parks and Recreation , except I don't make it a competition (if you don't watch Parks and Rec, then you wouldn't know what I'm talking about).
But we have no choice but to cut back (drastically) this year. I've heard people tell me, "Well, that's okay! Do a homemade Christmas!" After I pick myself off of the floor where I was rolling with laughter, I have to remind people that A. I don't have sewing OR artistic skills and B. I don't have sewing or artistic skills. At all. Baking? Besides a nice cookie or loaf of banana bread, I don't have those either. When people claim they love their "homemade" Christmases, I have to remind myself that they can actually MAKE something.
What does this mean? A lot of people have been knocked off the gift-giving list. Completely. It also means the gifts are inexpensive or just plain cheap. It means a lot of forethought on my part to make sure that what I DO give isn't some insanely depressing lip-service and is truly given with love.
Yes, it does mean "less stress" if "less stress" means just buying fewer things. But it also means "more stress" because I'm mentally trying to figure out how to make it all work under a very tight budget. Frankly, I'd rather be buying 200 Christmas cards and sending them out, passing out treats and gifts to all the neighbors, and buying things my kids actually want instead of disappointing substitutes.
Yes, I also know this means many of you have a lecture on the tip of your tongue, telling me how "Christmas isn't about things!" and "Your kids obviously need to learn to do without stuff!" and "The best Christmases we had were the ones with no presents at all!" etc. etc. etc. My knee-jerk response:
My kids are used to going without ALL THE TIME, thank you very much. We don't heap presents upon our kids just because. In fact, we rarely buy them anything unless the shoes start falling apart and their backpacks start to break. Christmas is one of those times where I feel comfortable giving them the things we would never buy for them --even for birthdays. Christmas is a time where I can exploit my gift-giving joys without the guilt. I know my kids and friends and family members and neighbors will be just fine without getting much (or anything) from us this year. I know it. I'm just sad I can't really do it this year.
And I'm perfectly fine with having to eat my words and find out that this will be the "best Christmas, ever!" because our focus will be shifted to just being together, rather than opening loads of gifts (and we ALWAYS focus on Christ at Christmas --that part will never change). Trust me. I am. Perfectly fine with eating my words, that is. Humble pie is one of my most frequent dishes...
What are some great homemade gifts you've given that didn't cost much and didn't take much talent? What are some ways you've been able to give to others without spending money?