We changed our focus and priorities to have a simple, debt-free holiday.
How can you have a debt-free Christmas?
We don’t do adult gifts.
If we don’t have enough money, we don’t buy it.
Stick to a budget. Plan for the holidays year-round by putting a portion of income each month into a savings account.
We’ve prepared the kids that we well have smaller Christmas than in the past. We don’t do Santa. We don’t do that ridiculous Elf or any of its cousins.
We don’t have piles of gifts like our parents provided us. I shop sales and have been very careful. I find great items year-round and store them away for the holidays.
Planning is key. I keep an Amazon wishlist updated throughout the year and watch prices with Honey.
Set a standard.
I only buy a few gifts for the kids.
I send my parents a gift card because they have more stuff than they could ever use and they like to eat out at restaurants.
My husband and I don’t give presents to each other or extended family.
If you have to do gifts with others…Organize some kind of swap with extended family, like a name drawing. Send money to a charity in family’s name instead of a tangible gift. Be creative.
We don’t watch TV.
By not being exposed to commercials, we don’t have cases of the gimmes.
It almost makes gift buying difficult and I have to be more creative and search for the perfect things. We’ve downscaled a lot. We’ve simplified. We’re picky.
I prefer quality over quantity.
I love this gifting plan:
something they want
something they need
something to wear
something to read
But, for us, there’s very little we need (such a blessing!) and I don’t often buy clothing for Christmas gifts.
We don’t know what the “popular” toys are. When someone asked if my girls wanted a particular toy for Christmas since it was “all the rage” at her daughter’s school, I had to Google it. My girls probably would enjoy it, but not because it’s popular. But then they would discard it too soon or it would break.
We don’t strive to keep up with society and it’s so much more relaxing not to have to compare.
We focus on the meaning of Christmas: Jesus.
We read through Advent studies such as a Jesse Tree devotional and Truth in the Tinsel. We love the books by Ytreeide. This year we’re reading Bartholomew’s Passage. We light candles and pray and sing carols and we’re together.
We read about and celebrate St. Nicholas day on December 6. The children know this is the base for the legend of Santa Claus.
We learned about and celebrated Hanukkah during our Ancient Studies history and it has become tradition now.
We decorate simply.
Our house doesn’t look like it’s out of a magazine or store catalog. No Anthropologie or Pottery Barn here. We live here; it’s not a museum.
We have an artificial tree. We have a lovely Advent wreath and a new Jesse Tree this year! We’re making do with what we have. Alex wanted the outside of the house decorated and we managed to do it well with lights we bought on clearance years ago. Win!
Our church has an ornament exchange so each of my children gets a new ornament each year. They love it. And their hearts are better than mine that they’re never disappointed in the ornament they receive.
We just don’t go shopping.
It’s really that easy.
My mom used to love to go shopping as entertainment. I don’t. I don’t need retail therapy.
I don’t subscribe to store emails. We don’t get newspapers.
We stay home on Black Friday. We don’t go online all weekend long. We find other stuff to do.
We have a budget and are doing better sticking to it. I go to the grocery store when we need to stock up (and honestly, this is where most of our money goes! We like to eat well).
We go to stores when we need a particular item.
I do most of my buying online long before November. If we don’t go to stores, we’re not tempted. But I’m also learning to get offline when all the sales start. That’s becoming a temptation too. Just because it’s a deal, doesn’t mean we need it.
We read lots of fun and meaningful Christmas books.
I keep books with the holiday decorations and we get more from the library.
A favorite this year is The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas. The accompanying CD is a parody of Christmas carols with hilarious dinosaur fun. The kids love it.
I hope to do some useful crafts and homemade baking projects to share with friends this week. The kids love that and it fits in with our servant leadership goals. We don’t eat many sweets, so these are fun and frugal gifts.
How do you stay of debt during the holidays?
What are your priorities?