Not long ago, I was privileged to be asked to speak to a wonderful group of seniors. The point of my message was to embrace the wisdom they've gained over the years and to pass it on to the next generation — especially as it relates to managing money and personal finances. I left them with a request to share some of their wisdom with me, especially as it relates to how they handle Christmas. And share they did! Today, I have selected a bit of that wisdom to share with you.
GIVE WHAT YOU HAVE
One year, both my parents came down with a severe flu that kept them homebound for the holiday shopping season. When I visited, my mother expressed how sad she was that they wouldn't have gifts to give on Christmas morning. I mentioned the wealth of treasures in her attic — the trunks and storage boxes full of things she stashed away from years gone by. It raised her spirits to go through the items and relive the memories.
She selected something for each of her children, such as an antique doll; old needlework and doilies she or family members had made; and sketches she did in high school. My father gave each grandchild coins from his collection. It was one of my all-time favorite Christmas celebrations. Their gifts had true meaning for their recipients. — Ran
GIVE WHAT YOU CAN DO
As we get older, we don't need more things. But I do have chores that I need help with, such as unloading and adding salt to the water conditioner; trimming the high shrubs I can't reach, even on a ladder; cleaning out the gutters and downspouts; helping put up and take down the Christmas lights; and teaching me how to download and print pictures from my computer. Early in the season, I make a wish list and put it on the fridge. Then, my children and grandchildren select chores they will gift to me. It's been a win-win! — Diane
GIVE CONSUMABLES THEY LOVE
I buy reusable cloth shopping bags from favorite grocery stores of individuals and families on my gift list. I add a few things from the store, including a mix of staples or something from the gourmet section; foods that they enjoy or might have fun trying; fresh fruit; and a gift card. I add a bow on the handle, which makes it as festive as a paper gift bag. These grocery bags are practical and fun to give and to receive. — Marilyn
My grandchildren range in age from 5 to 14. Each Christmas, we've ended up spending about $150 on each child for gifts. This has evolved into a mad frenzy of Santa lists, spending too much and ultimately losing the spirit of Christmas. Change was necessary.
This year, starting with the 14-year-old (and when each grandchild reaches 14), we'll put $50 in a card along with a voucher for dinner at the restaurant of their choice, followed by a shopping trip for up to $100. This can be redeemed anytime during the year.
Changing our gift giving as our grandchildren get older will enable us to connect with them in new and wonderful ways, and maintain that connection. — Deb
GIVE THE GIFT OF GIVING
When my children were small, on each birthday and Christmas, they received many toys. They quickly tired of their old toys when the new ones came, but we still kept the old ones. This only caused the toy chest to overflow. To remedy this problem, one year I decided that just before Christmas, I would have a garage sale, and the children could sell the old toys they no longer played with. They would use the money from the sale of those toys to purchase Christmas gifts for others. They loved it, and it soon became a tradition. They enjoyed purchasing Christmas gifts with their own money, and I loved keeping their toys to a minimum. — Peggy
GIVE FOR FREE
One Christmas, I had zero funds for Christmas gifts. I dug from the glove box and random drawers in the house and pulled out all the rewards cards on which I'd been accumulating points with department stores, drug stores and grocery stores. Using my points, I ordered Christmas gifts from their various online catalogs. I used up my air reward miles, gift cards, gift certificates and even my Canadian Tire money. Turns out I was richer than I knew. — Dawn
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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