Downsizing Christmas

Mother holds daughter up to place ornament on Christmas tree

Let’s be honest, the holidays have gotten a little out of control at times. We have told ourselves each year we have to top the year before! And that has created a race against ourselves and our limited resources. But, there’s a new movement in which people are choosing to take a simpler approach to Christmas. This could be a personal preference or be due to increasing costs and rising debt plaguing many families across the country.

So, if you feel like Christmas has gone a little overboard for your family, activate Operation Downsizing Christmas.

One key piece of advice: Don’t try to do it all at once. Try to cut back gradually over the next year. That way, you don’t become discouraged if the holidays look drastically different from the year before.

  1. Clean out your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
    Put everyone on the same page as you make decisions on how to create a more budget-friendly and quality time-oriented holiday season.
  2. Create your budget.
    Think about everything that’s extra this time of year. Look back at the year before and see the total you spent on the holiday. Now, try to cut back at least $50-$100 this year.

    1. Decide on a gift budget for each person.
    2. Do you usually help a local charity? Make sure this amount is decided early so you don’t overspend in other areas.
    3. Don’t forget your food budget! This can quickly get expensive as you look at work potlucks, church dinners, parties with friends, not to mention the main Christmas breakfast and dinner. Read here
    4. for great tips on saving at the grocery during the holidays!
  1. Give themed gifts to your children.
    It is easy to feel like you’ve disappointed your children if you didn’t get them everything they wanted…but, remember the purpose of this time of year! It’s to show them they’re loved and cared for. It’s not about giving them their every heart’s desire. Some parents are filling stockings and then giving three to four main gifts to simplify gift giving:

    1. Something they want
    2. Something they need
    3. Something to wear
    4. Something to read
  2. Give themed gifts to your children.
    Many local communities have parades and events for families to attend. Libraries usually have festive events especially when schools are out. Churches may present free Christmas plays you can attend. Or, you can even spend one night driving around looking at all the Christmas lights in the area. Here’s a list of some frugal but fun things to do this season!
  3. Limit your menu.
    Look for deals, use coupons, and search for simpler recipes. We’ve all decided to make that extremely delicious dessert or appetizer for a potluck or dinner and then realized $50 was spent to make it! So, look for simple, but yummy recipes that you can take to work or to friends’ parties.
  4. Do you usually give to charities? If your donation needs to be a little smaller this year, decide to give your time as well.
    This can even become a family activity by being bell ringers for the Salvation Army or working with your local food bank, etc.
  5. Use what you have.
    Decorations can easily be anyone’s downfall. Does the man of the house love decorating the yard? Is the lady of the house worried more about the tree or table decorations? There are so many beautiful options out there! But, this year, try not to buy anything new to add to your collection. Use what you have, or enlist the kids’ help to hand-make some new decorations. String popcorn, spray paint pinecones, or make paper chains using old magazines or junk mail.
  6. Save on those Christmas greetings!
    Always send Christmas cards? Try sending Christmas videos of your family through email. Or, you might be able to save on postage by using Christmas Postcards this year. Start searching for good deals starting around Black Friday. Also, if you send normal cards (instead of photo cards), you can buy in bulk the day after Christmas at a great price to save for next year!
  7. Your children may be a little resistant to your ideas, so help them process why you’re downsizing.
    Find ways to teach them the importance of the holidays outside of gift giving. For instance, talk with them about how it’s just as important to give of your time as it is with your money. Enlist their help to perform a kind act for a neighbor or friend. Or, give them a donation budget of $10-20 at the grocery store. Ask them to use that money to help local families in need. Show them ways to use that money efficiently on healthy food options.

You don’t have to make drastic changes to your festivities, just make small changes that will help you continue to prosper into the new year. Try starting with just one or two things to see a difference. Next year you might find you can cut even more without feeling like you are dimming the celebration.