The holidays can be a lot of fun!  Parties to go to and dinners to host, shopping for the perfect gifts for those that we love, and taking time to be thankful and reflective of what we’re truly celebrating.  Unfortunately, all of the activity can take it’s toll on our budget.  We go into the stores with no plan other than to Wow them with our gift.  Credit cards get used, budgets are thrown out the window, and next thing we know….January bills come in and the stress begins!

My kids are grown and there’s much to be said about hindsight being 20/20.  When my family gets together and the kids talk about their memories, you want to know what they NEVER talk about?  The gifts they received.  Instead they laugh about goofy things one of their brothers did or said, memories of going to Longwood Gardens or the living Nativity, their favorite holiday food, and how we used to spend time together.  One of my son’s most distinct childhood memories comes from a time when I was a broke single mom.  I decided to get creative one night and we had Backwards Night.  We wore our clothes backwards, walked backwards, ate dessert before dinner, etc.  We laughed a lot that night.  He remembers that more than he remembers going to St Thomas for vacation!  <sigh>

So what are some ways that you can get creative and spend time with friends and family instead of worrying about insignificant gifts that will be soon forgotten?

Step 1:  Decide on a budget (only budget what you can pay cash with)

Step 2:  Use an envelope system to keep you on track.

Step 3:  Get creative in areas where you’ve decided to cut back in spending.  Listed below are a few ideas I’ve discovered others do that work well.

  • Go see Christmas lights and end the night with hot chocolate
  • Visit a living Nativity at a local church.  Many are free.
  • Make Christmas cookies
  • Make Christmas tree ornaments
  • Take cookies or ornaments to a nursing home or to elderly neighbors and spend some time with them.
  • Read the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke as a family.
  • Keep dinner parties simple focusing on the social aspect more than the feast that only gets half eaten.
  • Make Christmas gifts (there are some great ideas on Pinterest).

Share some ideas below to see how creative we can be this Christmas.