Christmas has always been a blast at our house. We do Santa, but we also focus on Jesus. We bake cookies before we go to church and the tree sparkles all month long. I host a holiday party and we give to those in need. We make lists of things we want, and buy gifts that we hope will delight. Our little guy talks to Santa and his dad and I make sure the top gift he wants is waiting for him by the fireplace on Christmas morning. We don’t overspend, but Christmas is a time of giving for our family and we love to do it (within reason).
However, this year Christmas is on a budget and we’re making adjustments to accommodate.
Here’s how we’re doing it and please, please, pretty please feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments. I know there’s a bunch of us feeling the crunch this season and still trying to create magic:
Harry’s getting one gift he really loves. 1 of 11
This year, Harry wants a $20 truck from Target. DONE. In the past, I've done a bit more ... gotten him something great he didn't ask for, like his kitchen or parking garage or scooter. But this year, it's just his truck. I think he'll be thrilled.
We’re focusing on experiences. 2 of 11
Like seeing Santa at the mall (not buying the pictures!), and taking a drive to see the Christmas lights. Harry helped me shop for canned goods for his daycare's food drive, and even though we don't have cable, I have a collection of Christmas claymation DVD's for weekend movie nights.
We’re not doing Mom and Dad gifts. 3 of 11
These are my gorgeous red wellies that my husband bought me last year. (They came in super-handy during the summer downpours of 2013.) This year, we're giving tiny gifts just so our son can see us exchange them. He's giving me a pair of earrings I found on clearance with a 20% Cartwheel from Target. He's getting a new golf glove that is under $10. It's not about the price, but the thought that counts.
We’re not sending Christmas cards. 4 of 11
I love Christmas cards. Picking the right one, writing the perfect message, licking the envelopes, and sealing with a stamp. I just adore it, and even more, I love stringing up the cards we receive on our picture windows so we may enjoy them all season. But this year, it's a $100+ that I'm saving on cards and stamps. People know we love them without mail, right?
I’m not throwing my annual Tacky Sweater Party. 5 of 11
While my friends always treat the party as a pot-luck and bring the best food, I have always provided the wine and a place to crash afterwards. Which means I have to send my boys away for the weekend (gas + golf + etc). We've had to skip a year before and I know we'll just pick right back up next year.
We’re not buying an expensive tree. 6 of 11
We are so thankful that last year we sprung for a fake tree, so this year we have ZERO tree-buying expenses. If you do get a real tree, here's a tip - Home Depot sells fantastic trees for $30 for a 6-foot tree. We've always had great success with them. Sure, it's nice to support the local places, but slim budgets often mean sacrifices ... and sometimes those are the hard ones to make.
We’re not having family pictures done. 7 of 11
Every year in the fall/winter, we have family pictures done. We do them to watch Harry grow, but also for Christmas cards. This year, a few hundred dollars for a photographer is just not in the cards. I'm sad about it, but it's a great excuse to dust off my DSLR. (This picture was taken by my incredibly talented, beautiful friend Emilee last year.)
We’re hitting the Dollar Spot for stockings. 8 of 11
I already had a few small things purchased over the summer, but the Dollar Tree and Dollar Spot at Target are where it's at for tiny wood cars, stickers, and novelties. Keep in mind that Matchbox Cars are less than a dollar apiece, and so are fresh boxes of crayons in fun colors.
We’re keeping it close to home. 9 of 11
We're not travelling this year. We will be home the entire season and I'm thrilled to have the days by my own Christmas tree and saving on gas. Sure, I miss my brothers... but we will see them in just a few months when they come home.
We’re baking for the neighbors. 10 of 11
I love giving fun chocolates or candies to the neighbors, but this year we're baking up a storm! Buckeyes, cookies, fudge, etc. I'll be hitting up Pinterest and then using coupons to buy the ingredients. And this year, I'll be sending them on paper plates instead of purchasing fun plates - I think the neighbors might actually appreciate something they can toss more!
For us, it’s about our faith. 11 of 11
This year, I'm taking the time to focus on what Christmas means to our family, beyond the gifts and sweets. We'll attend Christmas services and light Advent candles on Sunday evenings. It is a good year to remind me of what this season means to me.