Thanks to the efforts of advertisers, department stores, and retailers throughout the ages, celebrating the Christmas holiday has evolved from focusing upon welcoming the “Light of the World” to Earth and emphasizing family relationships to a consumer focused, stress filled, guilt inducing time where everyone tends to spend more than they want to on things not needed.
Unfortunately, believers are no exception. In fact, according to MoneyMagnify, Americans as a whole are estimated to spend over $700 billion just this year on gifts after putting over $1,000 on credit cards last year trying to keep up with the demand and pull of consumerism. How then can believers change things this year and avoid giving into consumerism this holiday season?
Before delving into their year’s plan, it’s worth looking back and evaluating what happened last year. Was overspending a problem? Is there still debt being paid? Sure, being generous is biblical. However, consider how generosity is hampered when debt is overwhelming. Remember this when contemplating this year’s plan.
There is an adage that says, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” This is true in various aspects of life, and can easily be applied to the importance of a spending plan. If a person doesn’t plan out their holiday spending, they are doomed to fail with regard to keeping it in check. When creating a spending plan, ensure that whatever is allotted for gifts doesn’t impact a person’s inability to give to their local church or charitable organizations — or pay their bills on time.
Many people don’t think about the other expenses that are incurred during the holidays. The cost of gifts is only one aspect. Travel expenses, including gas, the cost of a hotel, etc. must be factored into one’s holiday budget. Don’t forget about the cost of eating out when away from home as well.
It’s only natural to want to reciprocate during a gift exchange. However, when money is an issue and buying a gift will be irresponsible, some families opt out of gift exchanging. Perhaps, the adults agree to give to the kids, but not to each other or draw names so each person only has to buy for one other person, not everyone who will be attending a gathering. Some families even participate in an activity together instead of buying gifts.
It is also worth rethinking the value of a gift. Some people opt to make homemade gifts when money is tight. It’s important to consider the meaningfulness of a gift as more worthwhile than what it costs monetarily. After all, many homemade, heartfelt gifts that cost next to nothing to make are worth much more (sentimentally speaking) years later than simply going and buying an expensive item to give.
When a person decides to forego the typical holiday spending, they should be prepared for some push back. First of all, not every family member or friend will get it. That’s okay. Also, they should know that retailers/advertisers are really good at convincing people they need their product. This is their job. Therefore, no one should be surprised to be bombarded with advertisements. Don’t give in to their strategies. This is why a plan is so important. Without one in place, people are easily swayed to give into the status quo and spend like everyone else around them or to listen to what advertisers are telling them.
Although this content was created to move people away from consumerism, it isn’t meant to insinuate that believers should be stingy. At Matthew 25:40 says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mind, you did for me.”
Jesus does care about those in need. Since it is His birthday that is impetus for the Christmas celebration, it only makes sense that He would want believers to give, not withhold from others, especially those in need. However, in order to continue being generous the rest of the year, many believers must be more disciplined during the holidays so as not to over commit themselves, and thus reduce the help they can offer during the other eleven months of the year.
~ 1776 Christian