Christmas Extravagance Not a New Issue

…but it is a hard habit to break.

It’s so hard to avoid that look in little Johnny’s eyes. You know the one. He’s playing on the family room floor while watching cartoons on a Saturday morning when a commercial comes on for the coolest new gaming system … and then you see it. His full attention is now focused on that commercial, he sits up straighter, eyes darting left and right as he follows the action on the screen. Then the commercial’s over, and little Johnny jumps up and runs into the kitchen to beg, “Pleeeeease, can I have that???” And so it begins. Under the tree that year is that cool new gaming system along with a couple of games and maybe some extra controllers (because of course, they’re sold separately). They’ve got you now! In three years, the manufacturer of that gaming system is going to improve upon it with a brand new one. Then, not-so-little-anymore Johnny will come to you again to beg, “Moooooom, I gotta have it!”

It seems to makes sense to give something like this as a Christmas gift rather than buying it “just because” at any other time of year because it’s a time to bring joy to others through gift giving. There are those fortunate enough to afford to give expensive gifts without relying on credit cards to do so. There are also those who really can’t afford it but do rely on credit cards to buy them anyway and then suffer from Christmas debt hangovers (how to avoid this).

Christmas extravagance extending beyond your immediate family is not a new thing. It seems new because every year someone somewhere is having a conversation about what Christmas has become. I found this New York Times letter to the editor from 1910. I didn’t see the date on the article until I got to the bottom. It could have been written this year!

One solution offered in both of the preceding links is to reduce your gift exchange list. We did this years ago out of necessity. Another tip I started following is to budget how much to spend on each person. This is especially helpful when you have more than one child. It can be hard to keep things “fair”. Lucky for us, I started putting these things in place already. It might soften the blow compliments of our recent move to a lower income tax bracket.

Happy shopping everyone!