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Gift Giving
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My sister-in-law has already finished her holiday shopping. I haven’t even started! It’s hard to face the mall when I know how tight our finances are this year. It’s not that I don’t want to be generous. I truly enjoy giving presents and seeing the smiles when they are opened. And I want to give something really nice to everyone on my lengthy list.

If you’re facing similar “shopping blues,” you may benefit from using these three important tools with which I plan to arm myself before hitting the stores:

1. A reasonable budget. Decide ahead of time how much to spend.

2. A meticulous list. Choose carefully who will receive which gifts. (You don’t have to buy a gift for everyone you know!) And remember that a bigger price tag doesn’t necessarily equal a better gift.

3. A firm commitment to stick to #1 and #2. When the bills start arriving, you’ll be so glad you did! Who wants to be wallowing in debt while trying to ring in the New Year?

Give Time

Remember also that one of the best things you can give is the gift of time. Make coupons offering to baby-sit, walk dogs, do yard work or clean house. For some people, this will be the best holiday gift they receive.

Instead focusing so much on gifts, plan fun holiday activities for your family, like ice skating, sledding or making gingerbread houses to give away. Take as many holiday pictures as possible early in the season, then have a family scrap booking session. If you’re thinking about taking a vacation in the coming year, start planning it during the time your kids are home from school. Researching options and gathering information can be almost as much fun as actually going.

In spite of what advertisers may tell us, enjoying time with those we love is always the best gift.

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By Brenda Forbes Dickerson. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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