This year, I knew that I would have less money for Christmas than I have in the past. At first, I was a little frustrated, but then decided to use my creativity to make the most of the limits I had. Even though we don’t always have control about what happens in our lives, we can choose how we will respond to those things. Christmas this year was my chance to see how much I could do with what I had to work with. I wanted to have a more meaningful Christmas without spending as much money.
1. How would I pay for Christmas? The most important decision here was that I would not go into any debt to pay for Christmas. Any travel, gifts, etc. had to be paid for in cash. I decided to set aside one hundred dollars to spend on gifts. Any other money had to come from other sources. I have been going through cupboards and closets and finding things that no longer serve a purpose at this stage in our lives. By taking these things to consignment places and selling some online, I have made over two hundred more dollars. I got some gift cards for free by entering some giveaways. Most of my emphasis has been on turning our clutter into cash. By doing this, I will benefit by having a cleaner, more organized home as well as having more money to spend for Christmas.
2. Gifts: For gifts this year, I will use whatever money I end up with and buy gift cards or consumable gifts. By purchasing gift cards, the recipient gets to choose what they want and you don’t have costly shipping charges or have to wait in long lines to mail them. You can just send them in a card. I don’t want to add clutter to other people’s lives by buying unwanted and unneeded items. I have a few items that I may re-gift and a couple of heirlooms I may pass on. Another thing we could do to save more money is to draw names and buy gifts for only one person or have a white elephant gift exchange and skip buying a lot of new things. There are a lot of options out there that I have never considered before.
3. Tree: In our area, we can cut down a tree for $5. For those who don’t that option or have that much money to spend, you can make a tree from twigs you find or just use a plant or pine branch for a Christmas tree. Other options would be to make a tree out of books or cans or jars or draw one on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall.
4. Decorations: Use what you have. Don’t go buy anything else that is new. Make paper starts and hang them up if you don’t want to use last year’s decorations. You can also make gingerbread cookies or sugar cookies and hang them from the tree. When people come to visit, let them choose a cookie from the tree. If you have small kids, they may enjoy making garland out of Froot Loops or Cheerios.
5. Meal: You can cook a pretty good holiday meal for less than $20 these days. Keep your eyes out for sales and if all else fails, just do a simple spaghetti dinner. There is no rule that says your Christmas dinner has to be ham or turkey. Have a potluck or have a special Christmas breakfast instead. Start a new tradition this year if you want.
6. Activities: Check into free activities in your area. In our town, they have a free Messiah sing- a- long. They also have a Christmas stroll. Enjoy live music in town for free. Go out and share an appetizer or dessert for an inexpensive, enjoyable evening. Some places have great Happy Hour specials. Get involved with service opportunities to make your Christmas more meaningful. Go sledding if you live in a cold climate. If not, walk along the beach and enjoy the beautiful sunset on the ocean. Instead of an expensive movie in a theater, rent a Christmas movie or watch one you already have. Invite friends over and watch it together. You can pop popcorn or make treats together or do a potluck dessert.
If you find yourself with less money this Christmas, don’t let it ruin your holiday spirit. Use it as a challenge to make it the best Christmas you can, regardless of how much you have to spend. Sell your clutter for cash or do things differently to save money. As the Grinch found out, Christmas is not in the material things, but in your heart. Don’t let the lack of material things compromise your Christmas spirit this year. Let go of the expectations from the past, use your creativity and resources wisely and make your Christmas one that you will enjoy this year.