Dear Barb—Christmas Cash Crunch

Dear Barb:

I can’t believe Christmas is almost here again!  I am a young mother with two kids and a large extended family.  Christmas is a big event in our family.  I remember growing up and having lots of gifts around the tree.  It was nice, but I didn’t have to buy gifts.  Now I have kids of my own and I just can’t afford to buy gifts for everyone.

I don’t want to ruin the Christmas traditions, but I end up paying for Christmas gifts well past Christmas.  Do you have any tips on how I can manage this without making my mom and dad and siblings mad at me?  I appreciate any advice you can offer.  Thanks, Kate.

Hi Kate:

Thank you for your important email.  Christmas is a tough time of year for lots of people, especially this year with the price of everything skyrocketing.  The best advice I can give you is to be honest with your family.  Share with them how expensive things are for you and that you are planning on scaling back gift-giving this year.  You may be surprised to learn that other family members feel the same way and even appreciate your courage to bring up the topic about which they were also worrying.

Here are some alternatives you can suggest so everyone can celebrate Christmas without spending a lot of money.  For example, how about making your own gifts? Most people have a creative side and could make some personalized gifts rather than buying expensive items.  Everyone could make an item and you could exchange names.  There are many sites online displaying crafts that others have created where you can get ideas.  If someone is not crafty at all, set a limit on the gift that they purchase, that will eliminate any imbalance in gift-giving.  Also, you can make homemade food, like jam, cookies, chocolates, and even homemade soup.  With the inflated costs at the grocery stores, these will be welcomed gifts.  Soups and fresh rolls make a lovely dinner on a chilly winter night.  How about the family getting together to tour the local Christmas decorations on Christmas eve? Young and old would enjoy this type of outing.

As well you could visit some online sites and see if you can trade some items.  For example, if you have duplicate items, like a drill, perhaps you could exchange them for something your brother or sister may like.  This may not be something everyone would want to participate in, but it is an option.  The main thing is to be creative.  It could end up a fun Christmas with people receiving some interesting gifts.  At the very least you will be creating Christmas memories.  Best wishes to your family.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.