Article posted Monday, November 19, 2012 9:33am

Dear Mary Pat,

I’ve always been into giving gifts. Big birthday gifts, little “just because gifts” and for Christmas…I was a gift giving fool. I had plans to do the same this holiday season until my hours got reduced at my job and my husband’s income slowed down to a mere trickle.

How do I tell everyone that Aunt Janie is going to have to hold back this year with gifts?


Gift Horse

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Dear Gift Horse,

Christmas should not be all about gifts. I know that buying gifts is a lot of fun, even more so than receiving them. I like to pick out special presents for the important people in my life. However, those same people would absolutely understand if I showed up to Christmas without a trunk load of boxes, just as your family and friends will. Those close to you already know that you are going through a tougher time financially and do not expect anything from you. Since it is in your nature, you will probably want to give your loved ones some sort of a gift. However, you’re just going to have to be more creative this year.

Without sounding too Martha, start making your gifts. Maybe make a coupon for a free night of babysitting. You could burn some of your favorite songs onto a CD. If you are any good at baking, make a couple of batches of different cookies, wrap them up with some cute packaging and deliver them to everyone on your list. If things are really tight, make homemade cards and wish everyone a Merry Christmas without spending any money. Whatever you decide to do, please don’t feel that you have to make any explanations to anyone. Give what you can and that will be more than enough.

Good luck,

Mary Pat