6 Ways To Simplify Christmas
My Christmases growing up were insane! Fun…but insane! With 10 kids in the house and parents and grandparents who went all out for Christmas, things got really crazy, really quickly. I remember fondly a lot of the fun toys I received, but I also remember very vividly the underlying feeling of tension from my parents around the holidays. Which bills should we pay? Which ones can wait? It was stressful as a child, knowing that I had my wonderful gifts at the expense of my parents’ financial peace of mind.
These are very real questions a lot of parents find themselves asking during the crunch of the holiday buying season. Because of my early experiences with Christmas, I vowed that I would keep my family Christmases simple. This is really not as easy as you would think it should be!
Start Shopping Early
I always buy my Christmas décor for 70-80% off at the after-Christmas sales. This can be an easy way to save big bucks. But make sure you avoid buying things just because they are a good deal. Only buy it if you can realistically envision yourself using it—this kind of goes for everything. Shopping early will also help you avoid the last-minute gift buying crunch.
Avoid Creating Big Expectations
This pretty much involves creating a “be grateful for what you have” mentality. When I was a kid Christmases got bigger and bigger each year. A lot of parents feel like they will disappoint their children if they do less than what they are used to. If our kids know we do small scale Christmases they will be excited, not disappointed, about their few gifts. Ask your kids what their top two or three gifts would be and then try to fulfill one or two of those.
Communicate with Your Partner and Plan in Advance
As with all things, communication is key! Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about how much you want to spend and what you want to spend it on. Decide how many gifts you want to purchase for each person as well the spending limit for each of those gifts. Plan in advance and stick to your budget. Allot a certain amount for holiday entertaining and a certain amount for gifts. By planning in advance you can look for the things you intend to purchase to go on sale, and then purchase them at great savings.
Keep Holiday Entertaining Simple
I’m not a big party thrower. It just overwhelms me. My husband thanks his lucky stars for this! LOL, I do, however, like to have a few friends over to celebrate the season. Save money and stress by having a potluck. Friends are usually more than happy to bring along a little side or dessert something or other. And if you do happen to have a big event, you’ll have lots of people bringing lots of great food!
My sister-in-law is amazing at this. She has always been a big gift giver, but in an effort not to go broke buying her 21 nieces and nephews, 5 brothers and sisters, 5 in-laws, and two parents’ gifts, she opts to make her gifts. They are usually fairly simple, but always a lot of fun.
One year she made my boys a little catapult game with tongue depressors and paper cups. They thought it was the most awesome thing they’d ever seen! They seriously played with that thing for months…probably just about as long as they have with many of their much more costly store-bought gifts.
Focus on the “Reason for the Season”
If you’re Christian, you celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. Read the Christmas story with your family, recreate a living Nativity, do a Nativity advent calendar, find ways to serve others. These are all fun activities that will help your family focus on what is important and keep Christmas in perspective. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas for Christian purposes, you can keep Christmas service and giving oriented. Focus on finding joy within your family.