2010 for a lot of families is likely the second year in which things have been tight for the holiday season. And so I’m going to name it a “new normal.”

Many of us have started to adopt patterns in our daily lives that we wouldn’t have otherwise done before, like using coupons. It almost has taken a shift such that what used to be reserved for people who were deemed “penny pinchers” has now become a reality for many folks. “Coupon” is not a bad word, any more than “budget”. There’s nothing to be ashamed of; seeking out ways to save money is indeed, especially now, a very smart action or a reaction, I might say, to the crunched financial situation. People have to be more imaginative as the 2010 Holiday Season approaches.

I always think there’s opportunity in every situation, and particularly in this situation with regard to gift giving, because gift giving has often been marketed to us by the professional marketers as “You must go to the store and purchase something, or sit online and order something to be shipped to your gift recipient’s door,” when in point of fact we all realize that the huge gifts in life are those that are very personal in touch and very unique to each individual, both for the giver and the giftee.

As 2010 draws down, a portion of the new normal is that of eliminating waste. Particularly in terms of gift giving. I say this because invariably there are gifts that we all receive that are superfluous at best and maybe silly or absolutely non-usable at worst. How many gifts does each person really need or use? If we can eliminate that waste, we can focus our available resources towards a gift that our person (our loved one) really wants.

What this really involves is communication.

We need to shape and manage our moods and that of our family and friends so that we can feel in control and they can feel loved. So we enter into a conversation, basically, about how we will change up gift giving this year, and asking each person what they truly yearn for as a gift.

Then, with that list in hand, shop around. There are discounts and coupons online to be found everywhere. And I wonder if you would consider another potential new norm?

A gift certificate, stating the budgeted $ amount, that is intended to be redeemed in the After Christmas Sales. Not just any certificate, however…. A carefully and thoughtfully prepared document where the donor takes the time to mention why they want to give the gift in the first place. You can put photos on it – in fact, if you’re a scrap booker, this is a fun opportunity to create something beautiful – but the most important part is where you share a memory, a story or simply the reason why you care enough about the person to want to give them a gift. It’s another opportunity to honor that person and thank them for being in your life. (We have a template we would be happy to send you.)

When you shop in the sales, ; double your money and therefore double your gifts. Who doesn’t want to get more for their money? Hence, a new tradition – going out as a family to get your gifts on Sale Day. There’s an opportunity to put some ritual into this thing, too. How about a carb-loaded breakfast for energy, special clothes for trying things on and then, upon getting back home, a ceremonial unpacking of the bags, reveling in the deals, the savings, the loot! over a cup of tea/mulled wine/your festive beverage of choice.

What do you say? Why go into deeper debt this holiday season when with a little forethought and planning you can create a whole new norm?

I say,

We can do it, women!