Tips for Christmas

Tips for Christmas.

It is hard to believe that we are one month and two weeks away from Christmas.  I really love this time of year and to see the goodwill of people, one toward the other.  Few realise the sweat that follows early in January when the credit cards had been maxed out to prove the goodwill.  Let us make this year better and financially rewarding.

Today I want to take a lighter view and look at methods of extending the goodwill without breaking the bank.

I start with a story from my own life, to prove how people appreciate it when you give of yourself; and, how to save a fortune on your budget.  Later we look at what can be done with some of that savings to make 2011 a much better year.

My mother passed away at the end of 2008.  She wanted me to take the doorstop I made for her back in 1985.  This doorstop represents the cheapest presents I ever produced and I remember the event well.  That year was a terrible year financially and I knew I had to give each one a present.  We live in an area with a lot of shale, but the chunkier one called ‘ouklip’.  I scrubbed several pieces and with four primary colours painted a picture on each of those, varnished it and put a piece of felt on the one side to prevent it from scratching floors and tables when I suggested that they be used as a door stop or a paperweight.   It was not only my mother who held onto hers but I still see it in every family home that got one, 25 years later.  Lasting that long, proves that giving of yourself is appreciated more than expensive presents that cannot be remembered by the next Christmas.

The challenge today is for you to think of what you can make for friends and family that will cost nearly nothing and will be very kind to your November and December budget.  You may not have the privilege of earning a bonus this year and is the ideal time to become inventive and creative.  I will even issue a challenge today and ask you to submit your idea on www.makingsense.co.za .  These ideas will be circulated to all the readers who logged on and who may need fresh new ideas from others.  The best ideas will be discussed in our next article. It can be as simple as flavoured vinegars in old wine bottles with a nice label and a doily, or, soap in a wooden box that you produced – nothing fancy.

Retail stores will not like our idea and even if they do not need your money they will want it.  Here is how they can benefit when you show some goodwill toward yourself this Christmas.  With the savings created from the manufactured gifts, you can go and buy an item that you can use well into the future, even making more of the same items you are starting to produce now.  If you are a man and are going to make a welded metal thing, or, a woman who will sew something this year – spoil yourself with a new welder, or sewing machine that will help you to produce more in the future.  These can be used as presents to colleagues and friends next year, or even sold at a flee market or the internet to boost your income.

The challenge will be to think of something that is practical and can be used regularly and that is not offensive.  This reminds me of the story once read.  A group of ten friends exchanged gifts every Christmas, but never in one location.  They were all male and everybody knows how hard it is to buy a gift for a guy.  This guy was down to the last gift and did not know what to get.  Then he saw this huge pile of boxes marked ‘reduced by 50%’ and walked over.  It was a fold up braai.  After looking at it and not really being able to find out how it works he decided the recipient should be able to find out when he opens it.  It was a bargain after all!  He bought it.  Us guys are strange and forward thinking, all at the same time, and will often pack a gift away and recirculate it for a birthday or even a next Christmas.  This buyer received the same braai as a gift, now slightly tattier, eight years later.

Do not buy presents for people that will not be appreciated.  If you made it and even signed it, it cannot go into the circulation route and you will never know that it was not appreciated.  Many stores find that they are now busier the day after Christmas than any day before and the reason is for the exchange of gifts.  Imagine running into your best friend at the store, both of you with the present from the other in the hand and ready to exchange?  How else would you know where it was bought, if not motivating each other to do shopping at the same favourite store?

Go out and have fun this Christmas and show true goodwill and give of yourself.  Start this weekend as we are only six weeks away.  Save some big money!