More and more families will be having a humble Christmas this year. And in my opinion, it’s about time! Almost all of us are guilty of falling for the commercialism of Christmas, and pushing aside the true reason for the holiday. We become consumed with buying the biggest and the best for our children especially, and we feel guilty when we can’t afford all that they want.
So many of our kids today are spoiled, ungrateful, and selfish. They pout if they don’t get the expensive gadget on their wish-list. They don’t appreciate the small things that they do get, and it doesn’t even cross their mind to give anything to others.
This year needs to be different. This year, we get back to enjoying a humble Christmas.
We are all in the same boat. The economy is suffering. Our jobs are diminishing, and our wallets are thin. And I think our kids know this. If they don’t, and are old enough to understand, you need to tell them.
If you’re interested in learning how to enjoy a more humble Christmas, this article should help you get started on the right track!
1. Slash Your Gift Budget
This year it’s not about racking up credit card debt so that your little ones have all that they ever dreamed of. This year, you need to see what you can afford, and then set that aside in cash.
It helps if you don’t sit your kids down in front of the Toys R Us Big Book of Toys and ask them to circle everything they want. You are either setting them up for disappointment, or setting yourself up for either tons of debt or tons of guilt. It would be wiser to not ask at all, or, if they are not greedy, ask them what the one thing they would like to have would be.
Our kids are getting $20 each in Christmas gifts. Doesn’t sound like much, but I doubt they’ll be disappointed!
I’ve already spent the money on 2 yr. old Ty’s gift. I found a really nice Melissa & Doug rocking horse on Craigslist for $20. It’s in great shape, and I know he’ll love it!
I’m trying to find a microscope for Jada’s gift, but haven’t been able to find a good one within my budget yet. That’s the only thing she’s specifically said she’d like to have. But I have no doubt that I’ll be able to find something that she’ll love.
2. Try Homemade or Inexpensive Stocking Stuffer Ideas
Here are some cool, inexpensive stocking stuffer ideas that I might try a few of as well:
- A bag of homemade treats
- Make your own creative and personalized Christmas cards
- Create a homemade star or angel for the top of your Christmas tree
- paper dolls and animals
- A Bottle Cap Yo-Yo
- A bag of Treasure Rocks
- Sidewalk Chalk
- Magazine Bead Bracelets
- Edible Bracelets
- A tub of misc. craft materials
- a Sock Puppet
- Homemade Playdough
- Crayon Muffins
3. Set a Budget
This is one of the most important things you can do if you want to enjoy a humble Christmas. Even if your reasons for doing so aren’t necessarily money-related (perhaps you just want your kids to be able to appreciate the little things in life a bit better), it’s a good idea to set a budget for the holidays.
This will give you clear parameters to work with so that you won’t find yourself mindlessly adding treats and gifts to your shopping cart willy-nilly.
Long before the frantic, exciting time of the holidays descends upon your family, sit down and figure out how much you want to spend on Christmas gifts, festivities, and other expenses. Don’t leave anything out – include everything from food to decorations to presents.
Stick to your budget as best as you can. It should be non-negotiable.
If you want to have a little extra money for the holidays moving forward, that’s fine – you can set aside a separate savings allotment for this. However, don’t get too carried away – after all, the point of this article is how to enjoy a humble Christmas, not how to save more money for the holidays.
When you’re setting your budget and talking to your family about the plans for the holidays, make sure everyone is on board.
Your kids might protest the idea at first, but it’s important to remind everyone that gifts that are thoughtfully chosen are more memorable and thoughtful than those that are expensive but with no thought involved.
You might find new ways to save on Christmas here, too. You might decide to only give gifts to the kids in the family or to have each family member bring one gift and play a Yankee Swap with the presents.
What can you cut out? Some items really aren’t needed and are just a waste at Christmas time. Things like fancy bows and ribbons, disposable plastic tablecloths with holiday designs, and excessive amounts of outside lights usually aren’t worth the cost.
As you create your budget, be sure to include line items for all of the following:
- ✅ Christmas cards and postage
- ✅ Meals and food
- ✅ Baking supplies
- ✅ Outdoor and indoor decorations (and extra energy expenses for powering them)
- ✅ Wrapping paper, tape, and other supplies
- ✅ Christmas party expenses
- ✅ Gifts
- ✅ Charitable donations and tips
- ✅ Family photos
4. Take Advantage of the Post-Christmas Period
Take time after Christmas to reflect on your budget. Did you spend exactly what you wanted to? Did you overspend? Re-evaluate your spending and your budget to see what you might be able to do differently for next year.
This is also a great time to prepare for next Christmas. There are all kinds of post-Christmas sales that offer steep discounts on things like gifts and decorations.
Don’t spend money willy nilly, but if you have an idea of something you need or want to get for next year and don’t want it to break the bank, this is a great way to save.
5. Make Your Own Wrapping Paper and Greeting Cards
Get the whole family involved in making your own wrapping paper and gift tags. You can print gift tags off the internet or draw out your own on cardstock that you then attach to some string or twine. When it comes to wrapping paper, buy bulk kraft paper and enlist the help of the kids in drawing festive images all over.
If you love sending Christmas cards, don’t assume you have to cross these off the list if you are trying to enjoy a more humble Christmas. You just need to plan smarter!
Get the family involved in making your own artwork for Christmas cards, or even consider sending e-Cards. Many sites offer free e-cards, meaning you won’t have to pay a dime or worry about cards getting lost in the mail, either.
6. Make Lists
…and check them twice! Isn’t that the name of the game during the holidays?
Make a detailed list prior to the start of the holidays about what purchases and activities are most important to you. Can you cut out those extra outdoor lights? Is the visit to Santa and the picture at the mall really important to you? Cut out what needs to be cut, and keep the important things.
7. Start a New Family Tradition
The holidays are a perfect time to start a new tradition with your family. This could be related to gift-giving – such as implementing the four-gift rule that says you only buy your kids something they want, something to wear, something they need, and something to read. These should be thoughtful enough to help them enjoy their holiday season.
You can also start a family tradition like playing gift games such as hot gift potato or white elephant gift exchange. This is a great way to enjoy a fun, humble Christmas with the adults in your family.
You can even start family traditions like hosting a potluck or going to midnight Mass. All of these offer your family a wonderful way to enjoy the holidays without going broke.
8. Go Sledding
Fun is free – and chances are, it’s the moments you spend with your children that they’re going to remember. Not the presents.
Think of fun ways to spend time with your kids during the holidays, such as going sledding. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s memorable.
9. Play Board Games Together
The weather outside is frightful – but there are plenty of ways you can spend time with your family when you’re shut indoors. Play some board games together – you can designate one weeknight a week to be the dedicated “game night” and try to play a different game each time.
10. Make Homemade Hot Cocoa
While you’re playing those board games, you need something tasty to sip on – how about homemade hot cocoa? You can whip up some extra patches and give tins as gifts, too.
11. Bake a Birthday Cake for Jesus.
Baking a birthday cake is a great way to remember the whole point of the holidays – plus, your kids are sure to have fun with this activity, too!
12. Make a Nativity Scene
You can go to the store and buy a fancy nativity set, but why bother when you can make your own? YOu can use items you have around the house, like clothespins or bottles, to make a classy nativity scene on a budget. This is also a great way to reteach your kids the true meaning of the holiday and the nativity story.
13. Make Homemade Ornaments and Other Decorations
You can make your own homemade ornaments and other decorations with the kids – this is a great way to save money and also enjoy some quiet time with your family. You can make Christmas ornaments from dough or other materials – that’s a fun idea!
After you make those ornaments and decorations, be sure you store them in a place where they won’t get damaged. You need them for next year, after all!
Another tip? Swap out Christmas decorations with friends and loved ones! That way, rather than buying new decorations each year, you can create a fresh look without having to spend a ton of money.
Volunteering is a great way to tap into your CHristmas spirit – there’s no better way to fully appreciate the beauty and wonder of the holidays than to help others. You can volunteer your time at a soup kitchen or even do something as simple as shoveling snow for friends and neighbors who might have a hard time getting around.
15. Give to the Needy
Even if you’re trying to do Christmas on a budget, that doesn’t mean you have to cut corners when it comes to your charitable giving. Give whatever you can to those in need, even if it’s just some food from your root cellar or the extra unused gifts you had left over from last year.
It may not mean much to you,but even the smallest gesture can mean the world to a person who is in need of some care.
16. Bring a Meal to a Shut-in
Again, take time to think about others during the holidays. Bring food to someone who has trouble getting out, like your elderly neighbor. Paying a visit to the nursing home with the kids, even if you don’t have any relatives there, is another great way to brighten up someone’s day.
17. Bake Cookies or Make a Gingerbread House
Baking is one of the best parts of the holiday – take advantage of the chilly weather and fire up that oven! Get the kids involved in making and decorating a gingerbread house or host a cookie exchange. Encourage everyone to bake three batches of their favorite cookie recipe so each guest can get at least two of every variety.
You can play fun games like “Guess the Cookie” and send everybody home with inexpensive containers to pack cookies in.
18. Make Your Own Family Gifts to Give to Family Members
You might be hesitant to give this tip a try if you don ‘t consider yourself to be a crafty person – but don’t worry, because you don’t have to be. There are plenty of ways you can impress your friends, family members, and loved ones with homemade gifts.
If you have a special skill like woodworking or painting, tap into that to create your gifts. Even if you aren’t crafty, you can still whip up cheap gift ideas like baking mixes, homemade soaps, bath salts, or tins of Christmas cookies. Make it a family affair!
And while you’re at it, look for alternatives to gifts. You might end up spending the same amount of money on an experience-based gift as you would a product, but the impacts of this gift will linger for much longer. Treat everyone to a night at the movies or dinner at a favorite restaurant. The camaraderie from sharing an experience together will last far longer than the brief thrill of opening up a wrapped gift.
19. Go To Free Events
Most towns and cities have tons of free events around the holidays, like tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas parades. Make a list of all the ones you want to attend this year – and bring the whole family along. It’s sure to be memorable.
Even something as simple as walking around and looking at Christmas decorations is a great way to spend your time during the holidays.
20. Host Your Own Family Play or Go Caroling
Start a tradition of a family holiday skit – you have your own built-in theater troupe in your kids, after all. You can choose a family-friendly play, like The Night Before Christmas, and start rehearsing late into it all. You can host a potluck on opening night!
If the play sounds like too much work, here’s another option – just go caroling! The music of the holidays is always such a joy to listen to.
And Most Importantly…
Fill the holiday with love, togetherness, and the spirit of giving. Don’t apologize to your children for what you couldn’t give them. Show them all that they have to be thankful for.
And don’t forget that Christmas is about our Lord Jesus, not Santa Claus.
I’d like to know how your family is making this Christmas a special one without spending a bunch of money! These are just a few ideas. I’d love to hear yours!
The point is… if you don’t have a lot of money to spend this year, don’t feel bad! We are all tight this year. Just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean you can’t make the holidays special!
updated 08/20/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.