I've made a firm commitment to only using real money this holiday season: no credit cards. As I've said many times before, I am on a strict debt pay-down schedule and timeline. I may be spending less this year, but it is all money that I have and thus I won't be spending more in the long run. Also, the man and I are not exchanging gifts so that we can use that money on gifts for others.
I've also made a commitment to buying products from independent and local producers/sellers. I've had to step outside of this commitment for my nephews because I couldn't find a local independent seller of WALL-E DVDs. Other than making a conscious decision to buy local, I'm also making gifts again this year as much as I can. I've plugged this before, but buying homemade via sites like Etsy can yield high-quality goods and can help independent artisans/crafters and their families.
I know that this holiday season is going to be a tight one for many people and their families. I'm lucky that I don't have to worry about how I'll pay my bills and that I have the luxury of being able to make payments toward my debt.
Thinking about the holiday in terms of money doesn't usually make it into the "holiday spirit" category, but I think an economic downturn has the potential to bring Christmas back to its true meaning without the emphasis on gifting. It is amazing how much creativity can stem from times of misfortune and how clearly we can be compassionate to the plights of others more when we are ourselves experiencing hardship.