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VOL. 128 | NO. 223 | Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dana and Ray Brandon

Go Homemade This Christmas

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Ray’s Take Black Friday may be getting close, when the rush of holiday shopping begins in earnest, but I’m already seeing decorations up. You could do yourself, your wallet and your loved ones a big favor by skipping all the crowds, hassles and budget-busting store temptations by dedicating this season to a homemade Christmas.

Homemade gifts and decorations aren’t just about saving money, though they usually do save dollars even after you buy any needed supplies. Just the fact that you aren’t in a store where impulse buying is an ever-present risk is a big budgetary advantage. Beyond that, homemade gifts show that you took the time and effort to make something special, personal and completely unique for those you care about.

With all the commercialization of the holidays, it can be hard to remember that part of the reason we give gifts is to celebrate our love for each other. After all, homemade means you care about someone enough to devote yourself to making something special. Less really can be more.

Homemade is an opportunity to build family memories as well. Everything from holiday cards to tree decorations can be designed and created by all ages of your family working together. From holiday cookies to origami cranes, there’s a world of options available.

For example, each family member could contribute a new holiday ornament each year. Even decades later, everyone will remember the creative process they went through and will probably cherish those simple ornaments over the most elaborate ones from any store.

While saving money is always great – especially at this time of year – creating treasured memories and handcrafted family heirlooms for the future is invaluable. What could be better than passing up buying the latest fad toy or fashion and instead investing time showing how you really care about family and friends with a gift from your hands and your heart?

Dana’s Take Even if you don’t usually engage in crafty activities, or feel that you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, there are plenty of homemade gifts and decorations you and your family can create together or in secret.

The Internet is awash with thousands of ideas, from the exceptionally simple to the extremely complex, not to mention enough food gift ideas to fill a shelf of cookbooks. You can easily find ideas that suit your abilities, your budget and the people you want to delight.

If you can’t see your family going totally homemade, try encouraging everyone to create at least one homemade gift. Doing that can encourage creativity and maybe even inspire the desire to learn a new household skill or develop a different hobby. When you step away from the shopping mall and into your own imagination, anything can happen. That puts real magic into the season.

Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife Dana has a Bachelor’s in Finance and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Contact Ray Brandon at raybrandon@brandonplanning.com

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