I was reading “Little House in the Big Woods” the other day to my daughter. I was astonished at what their Christmas looked like. Laura Ingalls was about five or six, and remembers fondly getting a pretty new dress sewn by her Ma and a doll made by her Ma. Even though her sister already had a doll, she had to pass her doll around to her sister and cousins so they could see and play with it. Now fast forward to today’s time and try to find a kid who would be satisfied with a homemade doll and dress for Christmas. This is only one of many examples of how Christmas has become more stressful, costly, and materialistic. Don’t you just wish you could go back to the simple days – or at least live in today’s world more simply? Here is how my family is simplifying Christmas and saving money, while still enjoying the holiday season:
1. Limit Gift-Giving: I love to give gifts, but sometimes it is just stressful finding out what to give everyone. I felt convicted this year that I didn’t need anything. All my needs were met, and I have been blessed with so much. I told my family members and friends that instead of giving gifts to them this year, I wanted to donate it to a charity and help out others who really need the money. I asked them to please not get anything for me, but instead to use that money on themselves or just save it. Some people were a little baffled or not for it, but surprisingly, many people seemed a little relieved. I had just given them the gift of not having to buy three people gifts – saving them a little bit of money, time, and stress from shopping. Or at least I hope that is why they looked relieved.
Not everyone has to take the road that I did, but find a limit you are happy with. Say you only want to buy for the kids. Do a secret Santa exchange type thing. Put a $5-10 price limit on it, and tell your family to get creative. I think you may be surprised to find that many of your friends and family members are a little stressed out this year too.
2. Limiting Holiday Baking: If you love baking for the holidays, then please do as much as you like. However, I am one that finds too much baking a little stressful. Plus, it tends to be costly for me since I can never seem to get the recipe right the first time. Let’s not talk about the amount of cookie dough I consumer while baking. If you usually give usually give a little treat to the neighbors, co-workers, teachers, and service workers, look for an alternative – such as homemade hot chocolate mix. Chances are they appreciate the gesture but are overwhelmed by sweets themselves.
3. Keeping the Décor Simple: It is very easy to go overboard with holiday décor. How can you not, especially with all of the neat ideas on the Internet. However, decking the halls can get pricey. I am trying to focus on adding a little something each year. Most of my decorations are also from thrift stores, last years 50-75% off sale, or hand me downs. I had fun trying to give a new spin on old decorations, and did not let myself get stressed out about all of the amazing things other bloggers were making.
Christmas is less than two weeks away – don’t let it consume you and rob your joy. Find ways to simplify your to do list and to enjoy the best parts of the holiday season.