There are a number of reasons a person or a family might choose to celebrate the holidays frugally. Perhaps parents are already overworked and underpaid, and taking on another job for the holidays would be too overwhelming. Not to mention it would take more time away from their family. Maybe a family is trying to avoid materialism, and want their children to learn about what is important in life. Or a college student wont have money for gifts after paying her tuition costs. Whatever the reason, there is no shame in having a frugal holiday.
How can this be accomplished? In any number of ways, from buying no gifts at all, to buying gifts for families rather than individuals.
- If this is your first Christmas, get a 4-foot tree, put it together, and set it on a table. Decorate with homemade ornaments, even if they are simple construction paper ones.
- Make paper chain garlands from construction paper as well.
- Crafters can use their scraps to make ornaments for their tree, as well as to give as gifts.
- Scrapbookers will be able to use their scraps to make gift tags, paper ornaments, and holiday cards.
- Some families are so big it is not feasible to buy gifts for every person. If this is the case, do a Yankee Swap where each person or family buys a gift. As guests arrive with their wrapped, unmarked gifts, give each their own number (written on paper that has been folded so none of you know what the number is) or put their name in on a piece of paper, fold it, and place it in a basket. When you’re ready to begin, start with number 1 or draw the first name. That person gets to choose the first gift to unwrap. The second person does the same, deciding whether to keep the gift or trade with another person. This keeps going until the last gift is opened and kept or traded.
- Other families choose names so each person is only buying for one other person. This can be done as a secret Santa thing or not.
- Want to hold the Yule feast or Christmas dinner at your place? Do a pot luck, where each person brings a dish and something else needed, such as a package of plates or cups. If you do this in an organized way, telling everyone what you need and letting them choose, all you’ll need to provide is the main course.
- Make it a tradition that you can only give homemade gifts within your home.
There are also things your family can do during the season that do not cost money, but will have the benefit of quality time. These activities help to build bonds within the family unit, and can include extended family and close friends.
- Walk the neighborhood in the evening, looking at the holiday lights. Bring along a thermos of hot cocoa for each person.
- Read or tell a Christmas story each night for a week before Christmas.
- Sing Christmas carols as a family.
- Watch a holiday movie together as a family every Friday night.
- Make Christmas cards together.
- Do your holiday baking as a family.
- Wrap gifts together.
There are so many options it will be difficult to run out of ideas. The point is, you do not have to break the bank to enjoy the holidays, no matter what yours might be. Relax and enjoy the season, knowing everyone is doing the best they can.