BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — Christmas, a time when many people blow their budgets, is just around the corner.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning and thought, Christmas can be a giving time without breaking the bank, according to Joanne Roueche, the family and consumer science agent for the Utah State University Extension Service in Farmington.
She encourages people to begin planning for next Christmas now.
“The best way to do that is to track what you’re spending now. You’ll get a better feel for what fits into your budget,” she said.
“Too frequently, people charge Christmas, and then, come January 2, sometimes through to June they’re paying interest charges on Christmas,” She said.
Roueche said it’s important to set a budget and then stick to it. Often, that budget gets out of hand, because “we need just one more little thing.”
Instead she advises shoppers to decide what is the most important, and then “look at the resources you have.”
Roueche said gifts don’t always have to be purchased. Look for projects kids can make out of old items, such as rugs from T-shirts.
“Use recycled things whenever possible. It’s good for the environment,” she said.
“I encourage people to make and create, recycle and reuse,” she said. Even using newspaper to wrap presents can ease the budget strain and help the environment.
Gifts made by the giver also often mean more than a store-bought gift. Some of her suggestions are to create a family recipe book, or put family photos on CDs.
“Great gifts are those you put thought into. They’re really meaningful,” she said.
It’s not too late even this year to make gifts, and craft store often have sales this time of year, she said.
Those who prefer not to make their gifts should consider shopping the sales and taking advantage of coupons, Roueche said.
And put gift items away year round, as they’re made available on sales.
“If buying for a family, consider a family gift,” Roueche said. Something like a pass to the zoo or other community events can be used year-round by the family, giving the gift of time to a family” she said.
Roueche promotes centering Christmas around family traditions. Some of them can be quite simple, such as having the kids make gingerbread houses out of graham cracker or making homemade suckers.
She suggests choosing one or two traditions to keep yearly.
“No matter how tight the dollars are, hang on to the core traditions. They make the holiday,” she said.