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An Economic Perspective on Gift-Giving


For Christmas and birthdays in our household, we use the following guidelines for our gift-giving practice.

  1. Something to wear

  2. Something to read

  3. Something you want

  4. Something you need

For our girls, we add a portion of their gift budget to a deposit in their savings accounts. They won’t be using their accounts for a long time to come, and the point isn’t to grow tremendous wealth. It’s simply to show when they are old enough to learn of its existence that they have been working towards saving since they were little children. It’s a future Dave Ramsey-inspired lesson when they’re ready.


Our family has been focused heavily on debt reduction. Andy and I both came into the relationship with debts, and much of it has been eliminated! We have a house in Texas that we are renting out and paying off the mortgage, but it also had some very expensive repairs a few years ago that we’re paying off. We have one car payment, a personal loan, but that’s it at this stage. Earlier, that list of debts was daunting, but we can now see a finish line on the horizon. That has been our financial focus and will continue to be so until it’s entirely gone.


In normal times, I would preach financial restraint for holiday gift-giving. For Christian families, in particular, I think the focus of the season should be Jesus, not buying stuff.


However, we are not in normal times. It is disheartening to see businesses shutter, restaurants close, and the other economic impacts to communities across our nation. I recognize that for many businesses, climbing to the black this holiday season might be the difference between survival and extinction.


As an example, in our home, we certainly don’t need to eat out. I love to cook and being at home, time to cook is not a problem. However, to help support community restaurants, we make it a point to order out dinner once a week, specifically from locally-owned businesses. If they offer a gluten-free menu or can accommodate gluten-free modifications, I am happy to support their business. In the Annapolis community, my family has enjoyed seafood, Mexican, Irish, burgers, pizzas, Thai, and more. We’ll order curbside, take it home, have a keto-option for Maggie ready to go, and we’ll enjoy the local cuisine. We want these restaurants to stay open, so we incorporate eating out and we’re strategic about where we order from to help our local restaurants.


For this holiday season, I suggest being purposeful about personal financial goals while being mindful of the economy at large. If you have the discretionary income to eat out periodically, opt for local mom and pop restaurants. For holiday gifts, when possible, see if you can make your gift purchases at local businesses. Many mom and pop stores also have websites that display their purchases and offer curbside pickup. As much as Amazon may be a convenient choice, especially in times of stay-at-home orders cropping up around the country, businesses need support from within their communities.


In honor of Small Business Saturday, happy (responsible) shopping.

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