I am like the older generation in that I wait until after Thanksgiving to set up for Christmas. And then, whoa boy! I love Christmas! I love all the holidays, mostly the fall and winter ones. There is something so nostalgic about it all. The things that I most love about Thanksgiving and Christmas are the family and friend gatherings. Then there are the lights and decorations that light up the gloom of winter. The jolly carols and Christmas movies. I feel I may weep.
The biggest reason that I truly look forward to Christmas is that we spend very, very little money. Our holidays are stress-free. I do not go out in the wild crowds, swiping the silly bejesus out of my card and creating debt within a few shopping trips. If you have tons of funds it is great fun buying gifts for others, however, if you are on a budget and raising a family….there are no extras.
Here is how I have great holidays and delight others, give to my family, and spend very little;
- I bake homemade sugar cookies with homemade frosting for family, friends, neighbors, mail lady, our pediatrician, and whomever you like. You can get tins and baskets at the Dollar Store or Thrift. Have the kids decorate the cookies. People love this.
- Send good old fashioned cards. I get boxes of them at Grocery Outlet or Dollar Store. I also donate to many animal rescues and get tons of free cards and labels I use up during this time.
- I do NOT buy people gifts. The cards and cookies are enough. People much prefer homemade and handwritten touches and less junk they will just need to get rid off at the garage sale come spring.
- The boys get two new, store bought “wish” gifts each and the rest are thrift finds and clothes (also thrift). We have a nice thrift store in a wealthy area and I get great stuff and with cleaning they look new. You can do all thrift. Kids just want fun stuff.
- Stocking stuffers. You can stuff the stockings with all kinds of goodies from the dollar store and discount places. For girls, you do lip gloss and little knick knacks and for boys little cars and such. Fill in with healthy snacks and candy, fruit.
- Have potluck dish dinners for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Have each person bring a dish and you just provide the Turkey. Have a couple people come early and help you. Make it fun with music and coffee. The holidays are a great time to catch up with those you haven’t had time for during the year.
- Decorate, decorate, decorate. You can collect great stuff each year at the thrift stores. People get rid of great stuff each year and they have sales right after the holiday. Just store it all in tubs in the garage. Decorating is 75% of the holiday.
- Have traditions. This is especially for kids. They will have these memories for all their lives. The holidays aren’t for adults, they are for children. Make it count. Watch the old movies with popcorn in the evenings. Play the Christmas carols in December. Decorate after Thanksgiving. Talk about the specialness of the holidays. Read them Christmas stories, take them to the Nutcracker. Do church activities. Read from the bible. This is all free and creates sweet memories for life.
- Drive through those great neighborhoods at night that set up all the Christmas decore and lights. We get thermos’s of hot cocoa and do a tour each season.
The holidays aren’t about spending and buying. The stores put out their goods earlier and earlier but people are less and less interested. The focus is on magic, family, tradition, rituals, and love.