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November 30, 2017 10:07 PM

Minimizing Christmas Chaos

A lot of people spent the Thanksgiving weekend eating and shopping. The need to find the perfect gift can put stress on the holidays.

People are also spending more money than ever.  Recent polls show the average person will spend more on gifts this year than they have in over a decade.

We've all seen the chaos that comes after Thanksgiving Day each year.  People swarming stores or online sales to get the latest and greatest gadget.

A November Gallop Poll says the average American will spend $862 on Christmas gifts this year. Last year it was $785.

This increase is the highest number they've seen since before the recession, back in 2007. Those are just the averages.

34-percent of people will spend over $1,000 this year on presents.  Only three percent plan to spend less than $100.

However, there is a small group that is looking to change things up.  Nine percent won't spend anything at all.

That's where the ladies of Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church are leaning. These women recently held a gathering to teach others about alternative ways to celebrate the holidays. Each one has a unique approach.

For Debbie Gallipo, giving experiences is how she shows the holiday love to her grandkids.

"One year, for instance, for our nine-year-old granddaughter. She was younger then. She wanted to go to gymnastics, and so instead of toys we paid for a certain number of weeks of gymnastics lessons," Gallipo said. 

Gallipo says her kids fit the mold of the new generation looking to cut back on clutter. But it's not just the millennials who strive for something simpler.

Linda Beckman says her mom started writing out her life story for the family and gave them new chapters each Christmas.

"We were all thrilled to have gotten that and to have it now," Beckman said. 

For Beckman's family, giving to others has also become a holiday tradition. Rather than buying a pile of presents, she gives each grandchild one or two gifts and then makes a donation in their name.

"One of the ideas on my grandson's list last Christmas was a blanket for somebody in need. And he's only eight-years-old," Beckman said. 

Cutting down isn't easy for everyone.

"I love Christmas. So I'm very guilty of piling on the presents," Jan Noer said. 

Noer is still working on expressing her love with less. This year she'll limit herself to three simple gifts per child, on top of giving to others. Last year, her family picked out supplies together to donate to families in other countries through a charitable magazine. 

"Several chickens.  We bought some honey bees.  We bought some ducks. We bought a pig. And it was just so much fun for the kids to be able to do that," Noer said. 

While some may worry cutting back on Christmas will ruin the holidays, these ladies say the less stuff they give, the more the spirit of the holidays shines through. 

"It puts the emphasis on something else. So not just on me and what I'm going to get this Christmas or what I have to buy for someone else. It kind of frees one up," Beckman said. 

"You know, maybe talk about it at this Christmas and say, 'Next year, this is what we have in mind.' I think if you bring up the idea to families, you'll be surprised at how willing they are to try something different," Gallipo said. 

"The more we can do that with our children and with adults as well.  It's so easy to get into how can we take care of ourselves? But taking care of others that's just what it's all about," Noer said. 

So whether it's out of a need to spend less, or a desire for a simpler holiday, there are plenty of ways to spread Christmas cheer without breaking the bank this year.
The ladies had a long list of "Christmas Outside the Box" ideas.

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