What is Christmas? What does it mean to you?
Does it mean time with family and friends?
Or time spending too much money on Christmas gifts no one really needs?
Maybe it’s that time of year to buy things you don’t need simply because they’re on sale.
For years, I spent insane amounts of time (and money) trying to find the perfect Christmas gift. I wandered from store to store to get everyone on the list and at times, self-gifting for finishing the list. Looking back, I realize the only product of my efforts was simply a lot of stress and debt.
Watching others open gifts you’ve given should be a fun and happy time. Instead, the simple act of opening gifts became stressful. Ungrateful children whining that your gift was “not on their list”, or “it’s not what I asked for, I don’t want it!” Then the parents feigning a smile so as not to offend you for the modest gift you purchased.
Frankly, it was frustrating and not a happy time. I was made to feel inadequate because of the budget I was on.
Gifts are exactly that – a gift. You should feel grateful to receive one and that someone took their hard earned money to give you one.
During my married years, Christmas became a sham and expensive. We had no kids, yet purchased gifts for all my ex’s family’s kids – at least 8 nieces and nephews in total. In addition, the adults would pick one couple’s name and create a gift basket with a $50-100 budget. Soon some of us started to complain about how much it was costing us, and the verbal battles became intense. Arguments came from both sides – Kids need gifts at Christmas! Well, we only have one kid and you have three – how is that fair?
In times when money was tight, I couldn’t comprehend why we didn’t give up on the endeavour and just enjoy each other’s company over a special meal. Instead, we were committed to forking over several hundred dollars for gifts.
Life is much simpler now at Christmas. My parents are seniors and want for nothing. My friends opt for a dinner together, usually a potluck at someone’s home. This year we had a fun time trying out raclette with a glass of wine and chatting the evening away. And well, me, I keep it simple. My Christmas gift is a special dinner on Christmas Eve. This year, it’ll be a roast duck (bought on sale), veggies and roast potatoes. Throw in a nice bottle of wine with the traditional Christmas movies and I’m all set. It’s a $50 homemade Christmas dinner but it goes for several meals. That’s my kind of Christmas.
This Christmas, remember what’s real and what’s important. Be you, don’t be a people pleaser. Spending gobs of money to create a designer Christmas is no truth. The most frugal Christmas can be the best ones. Unless you’re a rock star earning millions, don’t try to be one.
Tips for having a simpler, stress free Christmas
- Be up front on your expectations for gifting. Tell your family that you live a simpler life and would prefer that everyone refrain from purchasing gifts. Since some find it hard not to give something, suggest they bring a bottle of wine, or a food item for dinner. This gives everyone permission to spend less and one less item on their to do list.
- Keep the decorating simple. There is no need to go all Griswald with the holiday decorations. Not only do all those lights eat into your wallet, they also make your house look cluttered.
- Don’t leave things to the last minute! The best way to keep the holidays simple is to get started early. No matter how simple a Christmas you have, there will still be things to do – making the holiday meal, buying a few gifts and mailing out cards. Starting early helps you avoid doing it all at the last minute.
- Make time for what’s important. Set aside time to spend with your family, watch less (or no) TV, and cut back on other commitments. Remember that community, love and family are what’s important at Christmas, dedicate your time to them.
Hope all is well with you, have a fabulous and frugal Christmas!
P.S. I’ll see you on the flipside as I’m taking a few days off for Christmas, see you next Monday!