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Consider your budget; buy, give locally this Christmas

Well, another year is almost in the books. But first it’s time to celebrate the holidays, enjoying and appreciating family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.

It is so good and important to enjoy each other and celebrate in safe ways for us all! If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that the people in our lives matter.

So, that’s why we especially don’t want to sound Grinch-like when we gently but firmly say, “Be careful not to overspend this Christmas!”

We see so many families falling behind financially because of overspending during the Christmas season – sometimes taking years to dig out from under the debt. We don’t want that to happen to you!

No sale – or even smile on Christmas morn – is worth months and months of interest paid on credit cards for items you really couldn’t afford.

We’re hoping we aren’t getting to you too late with this advice. However, often we see that it’s the hectic, last-minute buying, or people trying to “even up” giving between various recipients during the last two weeks before Christmas, that ends up with more money spent than intended.

At the same time, in our small community it is a crucial to support the small businesses – this year in particular!

Did you know that “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, was given its name because traditionally that would be the day that many businesses would no longer be in “the red” financially, but would begin to make a profit and thus be in “the black”? That just demonstrates how important the last month of the year is to keeping many small businesses afloat into the next year!

So, with all of that in mind, as you finish up your Christmas shopping, consider your budget, consider your town and consider the needs of others.

Consider your budget

If it isn’t too late, think through your giving budget this year. Are there places to cut back? Perhaps stocking stuffers can be items that are just as thoughtful, but more practical. Maybe, the gift exchange with coworkers could be a lunch out or potluck instead.

Many on your list might love gifts of time, which is also very valuable! A promise or homemade coupon for a car wash, closet cleaning, garage cleaning, window washing or babysitting could very well be one of the recipient’s favorite gifts! Just make sure to be true to your word, when it’s time for them to cash in on the coupon!

Consider your town

One hint to keeping within your budget is to make a pre-shopping plan for your purchases, call around locally for what you are looking for first, and then make a planned shopping route. (Some stores will price match, so the time spent in research can be money in your pocket.) This will prevent wandering around in a holiday fog getting nothing done, wasting money budgeted for gifts on expensive gas.

Practical gifts purchased locally can be a real help and blessing. One of our favorites is a ladder standoff to attach to the family extension ladder and keep every user much safer when getting on the roof, cleaning out gutters and hanging lights on the house. That’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Other practical gifts include purchasing a fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, carbon dioxide detector, NOAA weather radio, battery-operated lantern, escape ladder for second floor window, extra batteries, or roof de-mossing certificate! Get creative, it’s fun.

Gift certificates to local restaurants or for special services such as a chimney sweep, handy man time, gardening or carpet cleaning, are not only appreciated upon opening, but also again at fulfillment!

Get creative – It could be fresh bread each month from a local bakery, a photo session from a local photographer or a coupon to a local art gallery or live theater performance.

Consider the needs of others

We have many nonprofit organizations on the Harbor that reach out to those in need. And they can always use a helping hand themselves. Giving to these nonprofit organizations not only makes an impact on individual lives, it effects the health of our community at large as a result!

If you are able to help others around you, gift certificates to local grocery stores, restaurants, or even taking care of someone’s power bill are all possibilities that can be acknowledged in person or taken care of anonymously.

Sad to say that after last year, we have some experience now, going into the holidays during a pandemic. There’s something about the holiday season and the pandemic, that invites us to go back to the basics. Grays Harborites are known for their generosity, ingenuity and can-do attitudes. What each of us does, really can make a difference!


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