|How about a no-spending Christmas? Imagine how free you'll feel. It's probably the best present you can give to yourself and your family that will outlast anything you could have bought. The good news -- no debt; the better news, you can still give.
How can you buy a fruitcake for the neighbors? Here's the answer -- don't. Shorten the list of people you give to or even agree to eliminate giving "stuff." Often people are so relieved not to exchange gifts. Let it be known that you are willing to show your love, you're just not willing to fill their stockings.
Imagine no shopping, no spending, that frees up time and energy for giving.
Here are some wonderful ideas:
Shop in your home and give heirlooms to the family. Give your grandma's doilies while you're still alive. After you've given all the heirlooms give "yourlooms" -- favorite things of yours that your family and friends have admired or would appreciate because you treasure them. Last year a friend was just thrilled to receive his brother's collection of old Pendleton shirts.
Give coupons for a service that you will do for your loved ones. This can be anything from computer help to taking out the garbage for a month. Personal service coupons are so appreciated because you're giving the gift of you to them.
Also kids love the gift of permission from their parents such as a coupon not to clean their room. This works very effectively for romantic offerings too, such as back rubs and bubble baths. Use your imagination.
Make your gifts. Kids love to hear the story of how they got named or about their birth or what happened when they were two. CDs are so easy to make now. Open the mic and tell a story.
Or write a letter and tell them what you love and appreciate about them.
Or have an evening together of creating a collage for each person.
Having a computer is a boon to creating personalized stationary and all manner of banners and individualized art.
If you have a video camera have the family make a movie together. Write it, decide the director, cast it, costume it, have fun, have it forever. If you don't have a camera put it on as a play.
One year I gave everybody Certificates of Merit and acknowledged a recent achievement that each person had. I noticed some of those still hanging in loved ones' houses years later.
Shop in your closet. Kids love dress up. Give them an old hat and costume jewelry from your collection.
From the kitchen -- make a delicious goody. Put together a meal-in-a-box such as pasta and marinara. Shop in your kitchen cabinet for the ingredients.
At Christmas dinner go around the table and tell what each person means to you and how that person impacts your life. It's a gift that uplifts and is treasured.
You needn't accumulate more stuff. Celebrate your loved ones by arranging a fabulous gathering such as a vacation in lieu of presents. Give the Bahamas or a snowball fight at your local park or a bonfire that you all enjoy together.
Arrange togetherness. Maybe this is the year to create a meaningful new tradition with your family. Maybe this year is the year to join or create a charity and feed someone who might not have a happy holiday otherwise.
When my friend Joan was a kid and had no turkey dinner she said that the local church put a box of food on their doorstep. She was so amazed that people thought of her family. That feeling stayed with her all the way through her becoming a self-made millionaire who now has an organization of food give-away on a large scale.
And here is my favorite gift: Give a micro loan through www.Kiva.Org. Or a waterbuffalo for a remote village, or ten dollars so a child in Africa can go to school for a year. Give this in the name of your children and let them track the progress. It's far better than a toy from Kmart. It lasts a lifetime for the children you support and for your child's understanding of the world.
And cheers for the holiday when you Google international filtering projects for a simple glass of clean water. You can give that. Joy To the World.