The holiday season is among us and I must say, all I want for Christmas is my holiday traditions! I know we’ve all probably heard that Christmas isn’t just about gifts and we all should be cherishing our family during this time etc. countless times this year and while this may be true, I’m not going to bore anyone with a cliche rant about what you should or shouldn’t do.
Holiday traditions are important for me because they not only create lasting memories and make some great photos to cherish, but they allow my family and I to create a legacy that will last longer than our material possessions. Traditions teach us in particular about the joys involved with an experience rather than the generic emotion of feeling great about material possessions and goods. Oh and my favorite thing about participating in traditions is that they are often free or very low cost. I’m not interested in spending a ton of money just to create a good memory. That’s nonsense.
Our Frugal Traditions
Decorating the Christmas Tree
Every year we put up our tree on the day after Thanksgiving. I’ve been using the same ornaments that my mom gave me a few years ago, but I might consider decorating some new ornaments every year to add to our collection. For us, the Christmas tree symbolizes the start of the holiday season and we enjoy some hot chocolate and holiday movies as we try to perfect our tree.
The Infamous Gingerbread House
My son gets very excited for this and it’s probably my favorite tradition too. I usually buy a $6 gingerbread house from Walmart and we roll up our sleeves and really get into being crafty and creative with it. Those darn things are tricky and require a lot of focus, but it’s all in fun. Check out this year’s gingerbread house 🙂
Christmas Cookies and Donations
Every year we bake an assortment Christmas cookies for friends and family. I also go through all my son’s old books, toys and other items around the house to donate to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. It feels great to clear up some clutter and give things away so that other people can use of them. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
I Don’t Want to Become a Crazed Consumer
I say this because I’m sure I was one a short time ago. Christmas is so commercialized and it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. Department stores are good at trying to merge positive emotions associated with the holidays with their specific products.
Often retailer’s holiday commercials feature something along the lines of a loving family gathered around the fireplace smiling and laughing all while holding merchandise from that particular store as if those goods are the true reason for their gathering and holiday cheer. Falling for this hogwash is a recipe for disaster and stress that no one should have to experience during the holidays.
In previous years I would get so worked up trying to plan my holiday giving and get everyone a great gift. Then Christmas came and went. The gifts I gave and received probably broke or got lost or worn out, and I honestly can’t even remember what I got for Christmas 2 years ago. The thing that baffles me the most is how everyone is always out to get the latest electronics, only for a newer version to come out just a year later. The cycle of being challenged to keep up with the Joneses literally never ends.
Welcoming New Traditions
A Not So Secret Santa
This year my mom came up with a great idea to help cut back on rigorous Christmas spending. Since we have a pretty big family, we decided to team up with a family member and do a single gift exchange. This way, everyone still gets a gift and you only have to focus on one person. I ordered a nice gift on Groupon for my sister already and I’ll probably still get my mom something small but I won’t be far as stressed as I was last year trying to buy tons of gifts.
The Holiday Lights Train
The holiday lights train takes families on a scenic train ride through a park passing more than 250,000 lights and figures including Santa’s reindeer 🙂 Admission is free and free hot chocolate and popcorn will be served at the “train station”. I just found out about this festive activity the other day through a community event site and a friend and I are planning on taking the kids tonight. If everything goes well and this event continues every year, this may just be a new frugal holiday tradition for us!
I tried Kwanzaa a few years ago and I really want to start observing this holiday again. I feel that it is more focused on celebrating life, values, creativity, and culture than Christmas is. And the best part: it’s not commercialized! I’ll be posting more about Kwanzaa soon.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? How are you avoiding becoming a crazed consumer?
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