It’s hard to have a debt-free or frugal Christmas.
Even for our family, we find it sometimes difficult not to get caught up in all the commercialism of the holiday season.
When I think about all the unexpected expenses, some of which we feel obligated to participate in despite all my protests, it upsets me…
Do these things even add value to the holiday?
These holiday things are so expected, but I wonder about the worth and expense.
I see social media posts like this circulating every year:
During November and December, I regularly see social media posts complaining that parents shouldn’t allow “Santa” to provide extravagant or electronic gifts for their kids because some children don’t understand why Santa doesn’t always just give them what they want. The comments ranged from vicious to understanding, admonishing parents to teach kids to be grateful for whatever they get or not do Santa at all.
Did she miss the point?
And it got me thinking.
Kids in foster care or in financially struggling families have a lot of stress around the holidays.
Does Santa need to add to the stress?
We don’t do the traditional American Santa.
The storybooks and movies and TV commercials all portray Santa as the wishgiver. We’ve lost the idea that his elves make wooden toys for all the little boys and girls in the world.
We teach our kids to be grateful and not to brag.
I have successfully made it through a holiday season without baking, attending any office parties, or completing any crafts.
Perhaps I went too far the other way.
I need to find balance.
If I followed social media suggestions, I would be sorely depressed that my tree didn’t have a theme with matching glittery ribbon flowing through it like a river. We didn’t bake, decorate, or give our neighbors artistically iced cookies with chemical-free dye. We didn’t offer handmade painted wrapping paper.
I’m tired of making excuses because I don’t give in to the expectations.
Obstacles to Being Frugal During the Holidays
Don’t even get me started.
I ignored social media the last couple months so I wouldn’t feel guilty.
We have very simple holiday decorations – some thrift store candle holders and a kid-decorated tree with a handmade tree skirt. Electricity is expensive here, so we have only a minimum of lights. Seeing extravagant online home tours and fancy craft tutorials don’t make me feel good about myself.
I don’t need more kitschy crafts to keep my kids busy or to clutter up my house.
Craft items are expensive and I often can’t find many of the items.
I don’t want to see the flashing eyes of a betrayed child ever again as I admit that I tossed that gluey, glittery, sequiny creation in the garbage.
Rolls of colored paper, ribbons, bows, gift bags, tissue paper, tags, labels, cards…
These consumable items are so expensive just to end up in the trash!
We don’t have storage space to go to the after-Christmas sales to stock up for the next year. We have a few gift bags we reuse and some old rolls of paper. The kids really don’t care so much.
Work potluck lunches, parties, cookie exchanges, church hospitality duties, treats for neighbors…
I often don’t consider these items in our monthly food budget and they sure add up!
My eldest daughter has attended a couple events where she wouldn’t eat because the food was just so unhealthy. Her friends don’t understand why she won’t eat greasy fast food pizza or fluorescent cupcakes and sugary soda.
We don’t give many tangible presents.
Our kids know there won’t be a gazillion presents under the tree on Christmas morning. We don’t do stockings some years.
We were accused of being “like weird Jehovah’s Witnesses” at church for our values. Nice.
Since we homeschool, I don’t think much about teacher gifts, but my kids want to give a little something to the music teachers and gymnastics instructor. I love their hearts. They picked out greeting cards to hold gift cards and wrote out a note for their teachers.
Since we’re far from family, we found it easier for years just to send gift cards. I never knew what they want, anyway. We’ve recently decided to forego even that.
Those gift cards add up – and some even have activation fees! And greeting cards are $5 or more!
We don’t send out Christmas cards. We don’t purchase boxed holiday cards or photo collage cards. It’s just a waste. I loathe the braggy holiday newsletters. We keep in touch with friends and family on Facebook and I send out a greeting there.