October 20, 2019
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This season give time, not money
Posted: December 20, 2011
Last Updated: December 20, 2011

These days the holiday season tends to impact more American’s wallets than their hearts. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 holiday shopping study, the average American will spend $515 on gifts and an additional $96 on food, cards and decorations during the holiday season. Unfortunately, those holiday expenses rise every year, thanks to inflation, adding financial stress to the overwhelming holiday stress people report experiencing each season from Thanksgiving to well past January when the bills come due for holiday purchases.  All this spending can have a long-term effect on people’s emotional state. According to the Mayo Clinic, financial stress is one of the top three triggers for holiday depression sited by people. Overspending can cause depression symptoms such as hopelessness, sadness and helplessness. Luckily, there is a way you can find the true spirit of the holiday season and bypass the extra expenditures by giving gifts that are good to your wallet and your soul. 


‘Tis the season for giving, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the season for spending.


Instead of digging yourself deeper into financial debt and the depression that accompanies it, try an option that is reclaiming the Holiday Spirit: free gifts.


What does FREE GIFTS mean? Gifts that don’t require you to lighten your wallet, but instead require the best gift of all: your precious time. In the grand scheme of things, isn’t your time and involvement what most of your nearest and dearest want from you? Plus you can involve children in creating free gifts to teach them the true spirit of the holidays; that gifts from the heart mean more than gifts with a price tag.


Get some paper, pens, and crayons to create ‘coupons’ for your time. Cut out the coupons and staple them together and tie them with a festive ribbon. They can be tailor-made for any occasion and for anyone you know. Here are some quick ideas for free gift coupons:


For the Kids

·         ‘Trip to the Park’ coupon offering a day of fun with your child.

·         ‘Pick Dinner’ coupon that allows the child to select their favorite dinner.

·         ‘Afternoon Fun’ coupon that offers to play fun games with your child.

·         ‘Game Night’ coupon for a night of board game fun for the whole family.


For Spouses

·          ‘Get out of a Chore’ coupon to take on a task your spouse dreads.

·         ‘Night Alone’ or a ‘Den Night’ to give your partner a much needed break and some much needed solitary time after the busy Holiday Season, which can help reduce stress levels.

·         ‘Lunch Together’ coupon is a great way to steal a little time together during the day and catch up.


For Family

·         Think about giving family that lives close by a ‘Come to Dinner’ coupon to make them feel welcome and maintain contact during the year.

·         Offer coupons for activities you know your family likes to do together: a picnic in the park on a Sunday, a ride to religious services, even a nice evening of talking could all be things your family would like.


For Friends

·         Offer a ‘Babysitting Coupon’ for friends with kids to let them have a little free time.

·         ‘Garden together’ coupon is great way to spend time together and get twice the work done while beautifying their environment.

·          ‘Fix Up’ coupon is a good choice, too. You can help out on household projects, talk, laugh and, maybe, make some memories.


There are lots of other coupon options. The only limit is your imagination and ingenuity with creating coupons. Most crafters say three to four coupons, with a year’s expiration date, won’t tax you too much and keep you closer to those you love.


If holiday finances are causing depression in you or those you love call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.

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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.