As homeschoolers we are often especially challenged in this area, because we mostly live on one income and the whole world around us is built on the assumption that we are all two-income families.
There are a few things that I think can help reduce financial stress for homeschoolers during the holiday season and here they are:
- “Keeping up with the Joneses”: Sadly this phrase is so well-known because it seems that we are always comparing ourselves to others. I was just having this conversation with one of my children tonight. They desperately want a toy that we can’t afford. Their biggest motivation for getting this toy is that almost all their friends have it. That is just the beginning. It was a great teaching moment to mention that stuff won’t make you any happier and maybe it will for a few weeks, but then there will just be one more thing to obtain and so the rat race starts.
During the holiday season it is even harder not to compare ourselves to others in terms of stuff, because we are so bombarded with commercials and special offers everywhere! It takes a concerted effort not to focus on stuff during this season. During Thanksgiving season, it will be a great activity to make a concerted effort to focus on thankfulness and all the many many things we have to be thankful for in just one ordinary day! If you would like to compare yourself, compare yourself to those who have less than you and realize that in that case you will be comparing yourself to the majority of the world!
- Give experiences: A wonderful and wise friend of mine mentioned to me one birthday that she has shifted her focus from giving her child’s friends more stuff (toys etc) at their birthday party to giving them experiences with their friends. I was so impressed by the thought that we have started implementing it ourselves and for our children’s holiday gifts they will be receiving some memory-building experiences instead of more stuff to clutter up the house. So, if you are short on cash, you can, instead of 10 stocking stuffers, which could all add up to quite a few dollars, give some simple but fun experiences as stocking stuffers to each other e.g. you can gift your child a trip to their favorite ice cream store for an ice cream or they can gift you a week of washing the dishes or whatever works for your family and the ages of your children. It will be different for every family. You can give a lot without having to pay much.
- Homemade/handmade gifts: Encourage your children to think of handmade gifts for your family and extended family. Last year I got an idea that I loved to give to friends and it involved recycled glass bottles (with labels removed) and a string of holiday lights. It looked beautiful and didn’t cost a fortune and everyone was happy to receive something handmade and recycled! Some home baked goods can also be a great gift and can be a great experience making, including cooking lessons and math in the kitchen measuring all the ingredients and doubling or quadrupling the recipes.
If you are making something that involves measurements, you have more math learning happening.
Search online for some gift ideas and you will have more ideas than what you have time to do.
- Potlucks: If you are responsible for the holiday dinner, why not make it a potluck and cut down on your stress of preparation as well as the cost of hosting everyone’s dinner. Ask each person attending to bring some dish that is their favorite around this time of the year and that way you might only have to end up cooking the turkey. As a side-note on turkey, I have for the last several years now, bought a pre-cooked smoked turkey that tastes so good that even I love it and I’m not a big turkey fan. It cuts way down on preparation time in the kitchen and cooking a turkey for hours on end. It browns beautifully and you don’t have to be concerned that it isn’t cooked all the way. Just one more small stress reliever for us with our busy schedules.
- Last but not least: Once again, be mindful of the whole point of the holiday season, connecting with your kids and family. If you keep that in focus, it will take care of a lot of the thinking about what might be a thoughtful, yet reasonably priced gift.
Hope you all will have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season!