Christmas time, for many of us, is a time of year of family, friends, giving and lots of eating, unfortunately, it is also a time when many are googling, how to keep Christmas debt free? thanks to the overcommercialization of Christmas, Christmas spending is sky high, it is no longer based on family and Jesus birth, but rather on gifts, and parties and every gimmick that goes along with ‘the festive spirit’ that a business or corporation can monetize so 6 tips for keeping your Christmas debt-free, how to do it, and how to have a wonderful Christmas without breaking the bank.
Christmas used to be simple, a tree, good food and family. It was a time to celebrate Jesus, people went to church in the morning they worked hard at creating tasty food and they gave simple, often handmade gifts, to mark another Christmas and show those they cared most about that they thought of them.
Now, it’s a red and white coca-cola, commercial jingle infested money pit.
On your Instagram feed, you will see the most extravagant Christmas trees worth a thousand or more dollars, every surface has a generic target brand Christmas decoration.
The atmosphere is a made in china plastic smell with flashing LED lights and a long list of demands for Santa from children who know nothing of Jesus birth, only the countdown to piles of gifts.
So, you’re here and you want to navigate the Christmas cheer while also keeping your hard-earned money because you know that come boxing day the overindulgence of Christmas spending is world wide in the Billions of dollars, and if your like me, and you don’t want to be laying awake come January with maxed out credit cards,(Afterpay anyone?) then here are some tips and mindsets that will make Christmas what was intended and not what the greedy corporations created.
I should add, here that I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I am not here to make you feel bad for loving it or hating it but although I love it, I love the lights, the songs, the food, the stress of hitting the shops on Christmas eve, I still want my Christmas to be about family, about Jesus and I put in the effort to raise my children that way.
PLAN AHEAD FOR A DEBT FREE CHRISTMAS
- Plan an amount to spend for each person- be strict it’s a practice that gets easier every year if you can have an amount for each person you need to buy for.
- or buy your gifts early in the year and store them, buy a gift a month?
- Plan the menu if you are hosting and buy all your pantry goods a month or two in advance–you can have family members bring an item to contribute to the menu
- Shop for Christmas crackers and non-perishables the week after Christmas when they are all way cheaper than they will be at Christmas time next year and store them
I am guilty of waiting until the last minute to buy my gifts like seriously I am out on Christmas Eve. I am not a planner, I never succeed with a long term plan. My mother plans, and then she starts to second guess all the gifts she bought in July and with all the Christmassy spirit in the air and she buys more.
I think I would do that too, and massively over exceed my budget and add to my post-Christmas sadness.
So, I plan for Christmas by perusing online, knowing for each child (I have 5) I have a budget of $100. (I know it’s not much but we aren’t big on Christmas gifts and splurge on birthdays) It’s what my children know, and that way too, it keeps spending under control, 5 kids at $100, then hosting so a full Christmas menu, I do have people bring food I send a list out and everyone can pick what they want to bring, a gift for other family members, my husband. When you start adding it up, it can get scary, I could take my husband away on a luxury getaway weekend for less than the amount I spend on Christmas day, and since when was Christmas about that.
CHANGE UP YOUR FOCUS
- Choose to family focused traditions over gifts.
- Make doing things together more important
- make the experience of christmas the focus and create family traditions to pass on
- If your children and family are used to extravagant gifting, make it fun instead (secret santa if you have older children and other family members to buy for) and let them know you are changing it up, put effort into creating the Christmas excitement rather than buying it
like anything, if your main focus is on gifts if it’s on decorating your home to be Instagram worthy and wanting to have the best Christmas you can ‘afford’ then you are going to struggle with your budget.
I LOVE Christmas but I have known what I love about it and I think deep down it’s the same for all of us. People, family with lots of good food, a day when you know is set for being at home with those most important to you.
Children will forget the gifts you bought them, they will forget the fancy decor and the matching pyjamas. They won’t forget the people, (even if some are off their rocker) they won’t forget the time spent with mum making the decorations, the time spent creating and dressing their home, they won’t forget the good food that was prepared every year.
Really focus on what you have already and be thankful for it, focus on who made the gift, who saved to buy a gift and who is taking the time to make the food and the decorations, do things together and always remind your children, no matter the age, that Christmas is not about what you get, it’s about who you have and the most importantly, who was born, so he could die FOR YOU.
CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON FAMILY AND TRADITIONS TO PASS ON
I get that not everyone who celebrates Christmas is Christian, actually, the majority aren’t and it’s easy to be a non-Christian and still love Christmas thanks to the over-commercialization of what once was a time of remembrance and respect of Jesus.
While you don’t have to be Christian to celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t mean the focus is on Santa, and Santa’s focus is Gifts, and a focus on presents means a focus on how good, how many and how much was spent, more and more children have entirely no idea what CHRISTmas is truly about and focus solely on the gifts they receive, listing the gift ideas, as demands to Santa, which only pressures parents.
In my home, Jesus is the centre of our Christmas, we focus on the story of Jesus birth every year, we listen to hymns as well as Christmas songs, and He is spoken about often as we look forward to Christmas in the month of December.
This year, with my eldest being 8 and 9 we are starting the story of Christ from birth to death on the cross and resurrection on little plaques we can hang as baubles on the Christmas tree. Every year we add a few more until the story is complete.
On Christmas eve, we listen to the bible, the book of Matthew and John, and then Christmas songs, while we put together a gingerbread house. We make the gingerbread the day before and then we decorate and fill the homemade gingerbread house, and then the next morning we break it open and we all get to eat it (lollies and all!) with our breakfast (babies need to eat breakfast first)
I host Christmas Linner, (a Three O clock feast for both lunch and dinner) and before we eat, we have bible verses to read that I print off and place as placemats under everyone’s plate, we go around the table and read.
- Secret Santa or Chris cringle
is what we practice for my family ( I am the eldest of 12) many of my siblings are teens now, and earning money and so many of us are able to buy gifts, we participate in a fun secret Santa ( secret gift-giving for a name drawn from a hat) the spending limit is $100 and it makes it a fun and affordable way for everyone to get a gift.
- focus on creating your own traditions
based on whatever you choose, make it meaningful and to be in control of your Christmas spending, be sure to take on one or two each year, rather than everything you see on Pinterest.
Understand they will not be perfect moments if you have young children! Trust me, there is yelling when we create the gingerbread house, someones always has the idea to dump an entire bag of lollies on the roof, and little fingers like the taste of icing.
There is always lots of mess and it seems for me, never enough time in the day to do the things I want to do with my children as Christmas day nears, but as I have let go of perfection our time is more spent doing the things I want to do, rather then what I need to, and that is how you create memories.
CREATE THE EXCITEMENT OF CHRISTMAS RATHER THAN BUY IT
Taking time to create with your hands, the decor, the food and the traditions make Christmas for children ( and me) very exciting, and but for a few crafting expenses the cost is nothing at all, and you gain time with family and a wonderful home filled with lovingly created Christmas decorations, some of which you can keep when you children are grown.
Doing things like salt dough tree ornaments, making wreaths, creating handmade table decorations and Christmas cards.
here is a tutorial from another homemaker on making a Christmas card holder!
DON’T VALUE THE GIFT OVER THE GIVER
- A gift does not determine affection by price.
- Don’t let your children determine their gifts, make them be grateful with what you gift them
- Say no to having someone placing pressure on you to show your affection for them through gifts.
Some of us have family members that expect the gift, and not only a gift but something that conveys how much you love them, in a parcel they can hold in their hands. This means added pressure and usually expense for those that buy for them.
If you are one of these people that place a lot of emphasis on gifts, even if you don’t demand it of others, but you feel a very strong emotional connection to gifting, possibly consider that your Ideals of Christmas gifts might be the only thing between you and saving a ton of cash at Christmas time.
Working towards a debt-free Christmas comes from mindset as well as physical strategies.
In the scheme of things gifts are meaningless they come and go, they can be lost and forgotten, and so if you buy things solely for the purpose of pleasing the person because they expect the gift, then it’s not really that fun, for anyone.
Raising children to know the value of a gift, that it comes with love, and with the knowledge that you did it because you wanted to, to see the joy and excitement on their faces, that being said, if my children have a long list of ‘demands’ I actually go out of my way to not buy what they request, unless it is something I have promised and they have waited diligently for, without being greedy.
Yes I know, I am terrible I don’t fulfil my children’s gift wishes but you know those people? who demand a gift, and you feel anxious at the thought of having to buy for them? they are created, they are moulded by experience, and sorry to say it, but parents made that person, and I do not want my children to be that person in someone’s life, demanding to be shown love by the value of a gift.
If you place value on gifting, more than being there, being kind, being helpful and caring to those around you, then you may want to rethink your stance on receiving and giving gifts.
How we feel about gifts is often how we spend and think of gifts for others, You may spend a lot more than you need, because you feel inadequate with what you can afford, and that it will somehow reflect on how much you care for the person.
My husband and I are both not huge on gifts, don’t get me wrong we love receiving them, but I don’t place a value on them and attach that value to his affection for me and we are both determined to raise our children that way.
A way we control our Christmas spending is to focus more on birthdays rather than Christmas, we have a spending limit for Christmas for the whole family.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR SPENDING
- Make a list
- Set a budget for each person and each area of Christmas spending, food, drinks, projects, gift wrap and so on
- reign in your chrsitmas spending with budgets for each spending zone, gifts, drinks, projects, pantry and perishables.
This is a big one, so if you did plan a budget other overall or for each person, then you need to sit down every time you shop (online or out) and just do a quick inventory or how much you spent, was it over budget or cheaper than you thought?
If it was over budget then try to save elsewhere. Leave a decoration project for next year, or choose a cheaper gift for someone else or change up the menu.
Yes I know, it’s terrible but you’re here because you may have the tendency to overspend, and if you don’t want to be in the same financial place every year then you need to change NOW, January you will thank you!
And so, that brings me to the end of this post, it’s how I, as a mother of five and Christmas host, keep my spending in check, it truly is mind over matter, and keeping in touch with what really matters, is the key to keeping Christmas special without the dollars.
The simple mamma
A recipe perfect for Christmas day! slow-roast lamb, no carving required! I know in the US, you love turkey, here in Australia, we do lamb!
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