Celebrate Christmas Without Spending A Dollar

For eleven months out of the year everyone will profess that money, happiness and love aren't connected. Then all of a sudden December hits and thoughts turn to presents, trips, decorations and parties. We get caught up in showing our live through what we buy.

It's as if winter and Christmas trigger some type of spending spree of the heart. People are so focused on what to give that they forget about budgets. Savings deplete and credit overflows.

I want to spend just a few minutes centering back in on the Christmas traditions that don't cost a penny - the ways to celebrate the birth of our Lord without even once tapping into the bank account.

* Choose time over gifts. Your family may never remember that they received socks, a tie and a new video game after a couple of weeks, but they will remember singing Christmas carols, reading the Bible on Christmas morning and baking cookies from scratch. Time is fleeting and we will never be together like this again. Take pictures, talk and enjoy every precious moment.

* Visit a live nativity. While some ask for donations, most churches have free nativities throughout the month of December. Check your local paper for the week's activities. Take your Bible with you and read the passage for each part of the story. Roll down your windows and just listen to the hymns for a few minutes. Slowing down may be the best part of your Christmas season.

* Have a "raid-the-refrigerator-and-watch-movies night." With all the get-togethers and large meals you'll be preparing over the next couple of weeks, you're probably going to have tons of leftovers crammed in the fridge. Set aside one night to finish them all off in a relationship-building way. Let each family member choose a movie and pile up their plates with leftovers. Then spend the whole evening on blankets and pillows enjoy time together.

* Attend a Christmas concert. There will be boatloads to choose from - churches, schools, military installations, kids, adults, professionals and beginners. Find one that fits your schedule and your listening tastes and then pile the family into the car. Flooding your senses with the beautiful music of the Christmas season will not only bring you joy, but make you forget about the outside world for a little while.

* Visit the library. With some time off from school, use that time wisely and head to the library. Find all the books on each person's favorite subjects (animals, crafts, cooking, jokes), find some Christmas stories and have a reading day. Make some cocoa and cookies and then share in the joy of reading together. Plus while you're at the library you'll learn about all kinds of other free events they'll be hosting in the upcoming weeks.

* Go for a Christmas lights tour. For just the price of a little gasoline, you can entertain your family for hours just driving through your own neighborhood. Put a Christmas CD in and take in all the twinkling, chasing and dancing lights you can handle. There's nothing more relaxing than enjoying someone else's hard work and appreciating the time together.

While doing your searching you may find craft make-and-take days at local stores. There are church bazaars and activities at the community center. Or you may decide to stay home for one day out of the month and take a couple of deep breaths. However you decide to celebrate Christmas with those you love, please remember that you can do so without focusing on finances.


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