by Amelia Sauter, Ithaca NY
Until the root canal, my partner and I were able to buffer the effects of the recession on our checking account. Then came a second root canal. I found myself getting anxious about the holidays, and like many other Americans, wondering how I was going to buy people gifts this year.
While lying awake in the middle of the night with a hot flash, I came up with a few ideas that I thought I’d share with others who might be shaking in their Uggs at the thought of pulling out the plastic and racking up more debt:
1) Make homemade pancake mix. The people I love are getting ball jars of my famous pancake mix this year, topped with big bows and instructions to add milk and eggs. You can even use Bisquick. They’ll never know.
2) Don’t have children. They’re expensive, they’re messy, and once you let them in the house, it’s hard to get rid of them. Like stray cats. Offer a sympathy bowl of milk to a flea-infested feline who cries at your door and next thing you know it’s sleeping on your pillow. So plan ahead, since the holidays are just a few short weeks away, and don’t have children. And if it’s too late, well, you can save money this Christmas by wrapping your children up and giving them away.
3) Tell your friends you have decided to embrace the spiritual side rather than the commercial side of the holidays, and that you are lighting a votive candle in the their honor. Om shanti.
4) Send electronic holiday cards. Not only is it easier and cheaper, you also get bonus points when you proclaim that you are making a difference in the world by saving trees.
5) Give coupons for gifts you can personally fulfill, like a foot massage or babysitting. When your friends ask to redeem them, say, “I didn’t give you that coupon. I’ve never seen it before in my life.”
6) Don’t drink and shop! I’ve been known to recommend a shot of tequila to take the edge off holiday shopping, but this is to help you spend money, not save it. Alcohol helps you muster up holiday joy instead of bah humbugs so when you’re packed in Walmart, I mean, Greenstar with all the other last minute shoppers, their children running amock (see #2), you won’t feel the urge to beat anyone with a loofah.
When we owe $3K to the dentist, I just can’t justify buying Christmas lights or a plush talking Dug that doesn’t even say “Squirrel!” You’ll have to rent the movie Up if you don’t know who Dug is. Or better yet, save your money for votive candles and Bisquick.
copyright Amelia Sauter 2009