10/3/07

Christmas Shopping...Already?

When do you start Christmas shopping? Do you shop the day after Christmas for the next year? Or do you wait until August? Or October? Or after Thanksgiving? A friend of mine shops on Christmas Eve. I can’t imagine that. For me, Christmas shopping begins on the first crisp day of fall. It just gets my holiday juices rolling. It also is early enough to spread out the cost.

Regardless of when you shop, it’s smart to plan ahead and to budget for the holidays. Gifts don’t have to break our pocketbooks. One of the smartest gifts I ever gave was a bold quilt for my husband, made from blue, brown, and beige squares cut from my young sons’ hole-y jeans, pieced together between strips of red denim, and backed with a manly brown and red plaid flannel. We used it for years on picnics. It is a true legacy gift, full of memories, and it cost me almost nothing.

I love a good time, but I’m amazed at some of the dumb things we consumers buy as gifts—wasting our money when people have real needs. I’ve bought into “stupid gift” ideas, and you probably have, too. I saw ads recently for a “spinmallow,” a motorized marshmallow turner for making campfire S’mores...and a mini vacuum cleaner shaped like a pig...and squid soap (in an ugly soap dispenser)...and even a “Jesus Saves” bank with coins dropped in between Jesus’ praying hands. These gifts can range from the absurd to the truly tacky.

Proverbs 21:5 says, “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but to every one that is hasty, only to want.” In other words, careful planning will put you ahead financially, but hurrying and scurrying around, buying indiscriminately, will get you behind in your finances—and possibly, deeply in debt. We need to think before we buy.

It’s still early. Put some brain power behind your buying, and choose gifts that are meaningful and within your budget: good books, quality clothing, tasteful home d├ęcor, or something that will bless and encourage. Please, no squid soap.

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