Like most people, I really enjoy the holiday season. I love spending time with my family and celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. In the past, Christmas was a stressful time for my household financially.
When my son was younger I bought him so many gifts, but the amount has slowly declined year after year. This year, I asked him what he wanted and he couldn’t really give me any ideas aside from two things. Mind you, he’s still only 7.
As shocking as it was to hear that, I was pleasantly surprised. My husband and I don’t really need much this year either, and we’ve made the big decision not to exchange gifts with family and friends this year either.
This means no buying gifts for my parents or siblings, no Secret Santa parties, and no sponsoring a child for Christmas this year. I know I probably sound like a big Scrooge right now because there are plenty of ways to stick to a budget and find frugal gift options.
However, I have a big goal I’m working on. A few weeks ago, I shared that my husband and I were looking into buying a house. We want to close on a house and be fully moved in by June 2018, so that means we need to start getting organized and looking early next year.
Foregoing buying Christmas gifts outside of my 3-person family will allow us to maximize our savings this year. Instead of allowing the holiday season to be the most expensive time of year for us, we’re hoping it will be more frugal and laid back.
We still want to enjoy the holidays and give back though, so here’s how we’re planning on doing it.
Related: How to Not Spend $1,000 on Christmas
Setting Boundaries For Reciprocity
The one issue I’d see with our decision not to give gifts to friends and family this year is receiving gifts from them and having nothing to offer in return. Reciprocity can sting around this time of year because you may feel obligated to buy a gift for someone who gives you something.
To eliminate this ‘guilty’ feeling, I plan on setting boundaries with loved ones and just being honest. We’re telling everyone about our goal and the fact that we won’t be able to exchange gifts and don’t expect anything.
My parents and in-laws are stubborn though and may want to get something for our son so I’ve already made up my mind to just tell them he only needs pajamas because he can never have enough P.J.s 🙂
Honestly, though, I’m going to express that we’re very blessed at this time and our needs are low. Plus, I hate when other people waste their money on unnecessary items. The whole point of exchanging gifts is to provide someone with something that will be useful and valuable to them. At this time, the only thing I can think about is moving out of this apartment so I want to focus my finances on that.
Giving Our Time and Talents
Instead of giving gifts, I want to focus on giving my time and talents to others because it will be much more memorable. For example, my mom and in-laws tend to need a lot of help around the house so I’d much rather spend an afternoon doing something nice for them.
I’d also like to visit with family members that I don’t see often and I love cooking for people and baking. I plan on baking some of my favorite treats this year and handing them out to family, friends, and neighbors.
Volunteering is something else I’m trying to do more of year-round and especially around Christmas because so many people are in need. Back in the summer, I volunteered with my son and brother to spend an afternoon packing food for children to help the Feed My Starving Children organization. It was a really great experience and I felt like we got to make a direct impact on other people across the world.
I’d love to do something like this again around Christmas or possibly volunteer with my family to pass out a holiday dinner. My mom works at a nursing home and when my sisters and I were younger, we’d go to her job and sing Christmas carols for the residents. I’m a horrible singer now, but it would be nice to stop by and read with the residents or help with an event.
Enjoying the Faith-Based Aspect of Christmas
Christmas is a huge holiday for Christians like myself, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s so easy to get caught up in the gifts and money and forget about the true meaning of the holiday. By giving fewer gifts this year, I’m hoping I’ll have less to worry about and can actually the faith-based aspect of Christmas with my loved ones even more.
I’m looking forward to inviting people to church along with my son’s Christmas program at his school. It’s always really good and it’s free!
Finally, being more present with loved ones is another way I’ll be enjoying the holiday season without gifts. I will still go to parties, potlucks and events but focus on being present and creating memories as opposed to giving presents.
We have a ton of traditions we love too that we will still keep up with like putting up our tree and watching Christmas movies, making a gingerbread house, riding the holiday train, ice skating, and sledding if there’s snow.
These are just a few ways that I’m planning on happily celebrating the holidays without giving gifts to extended family and friends. Your holiday season may look a lot different from mine and that’s fine. Do what makes you happy and feel good along with that sticks within the constraints of your budget.
Will you be slowing down on Christmas gifts this year or doing the exact opposite? Why or why not?
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