Christmas is one of the busiest time of year for many people. Shopping, office parties, school programs, concerts, local parades and events…it is really easy to over commit, get busy with everything, and forget to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas altogether. This year, make the holidays less hectic with these 5 ways to simplify Christmas and focus on what matters.
While it may be tempting to want to spend a lot of money and rack up a lot of debt, it really isn’t necessary in order to have a wonderful and fulfilling holiday. So, if you are working on paying down bills and improving your credit, don’t worry. You can still stay on track with some of these minimalist Christmas ideas!
Limit the gifts
Yes, it is fun for your child to run down stairs at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning and tear open a huge pile of gifts! But as any parent knows, that huge mountain of gifts that took hours and hours to wrap, and probably hundreds of dollars to buy, is opened in about 30 seconds. And if you’re lucky, maybe the kids will play with them for a few hours… but they will probably be tossed aside within a few days. That’s the sad truth of over-gifting to your kids. When they receive too many gifts, they tend to appreciate them less. This year, minimize the gifts and ask your child what one or two items are that they’d really like to receive. Instead of helping put together a wish list that is a mile long, help them decide which items they actually use and appreciate the most.
Related article: 10 Ways to Avoid Overspending at Christmas
Here’s a free printable to help your kids come up with some gifts that they want, but also how they can give back at Christmas too!
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For adults, limiting the gifts can still be fun. Here are few ideas to help your family organize the limited gift-giving:
- Have each adult family member draw one name and then buy a gift for just that person. Set a gift budget of $25 or $50 dollars, for example… much less expensive than buying gifts for everyone!
- Have a random drawing. Everyone who wants to participate buys a gift for a set dollar amount that would be appropriate for anyone to receive (gift cards, money, lotto tickets, etc.), then draw to see what number you get—that’s the order that gifts will be chosen. When it’s your turn, you can take a gift that has already been opened or you can take your chances and pick an un-opened gift. In this game, the person with the last number gets the pick of the gifts. Lots of fun and everyone ends up with something nice!
- Have a white elephant gift exchange. Okay, you won’t get any good gifts, but these can be pretty entertaining!
- Create coupons for gifts. These don’t cost a thing because you are giving of your time. For example, you could gift your time to do the following: cooking dinner one night, wash the car, etc.
- Book exchange. If you are like me, once you’ve read a book, you literally never read it again (unless it’s the Bible), so you may as well, pick one of those books, wrap it up, and gift it!
Related post: Don’t Waste Money on Christmas Gifts that No One Wants
Be on the lookout for sales
While there are several great deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you can also pick up gifts throughout the year that you find on clearance or other good sales. Yes, you have to find a good hiding spot and hope that your kids or spouse don’t find it before Christmas, but getting gifts early can save you a ton of money!
But, waiting until the holiday season isn’t always bad either. Many retailers offer “free” items with a purchase around Christmas. Be on the lookout for places that offer an additional gift card with minimum purchase.
Give of your time at Christmas
While the holidays are fun and exciting for many, there are some that experience loneliness, anxiety, and poverty. Giving of your time and volunteering can truly brighten someone else’s holiday season! Volunteering is also a great way to teach your kids gratitude at Christmas. If your children are used to getting a mountain of gifts, it may be hard for them to imagine that not all children are that fortunate. Here are a few ways to give of your time this year:
- Ring the bell to collect money for Salvation Army
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Go caroling at a nursing home
- Collect toys for sick children or children in need at Christmas
- Pack a shoebox for children around the world through Samaritan’s Purse
Join a Christmas cookie exchange
Instead of getting bogged down with all that baking at Christmastime, get together with a group of friends that also like to make Christmas cookies and goodies. You only need to bake one type of cookie, but you must make enough to exchange with the others. So, if your group has ten people in it, you will end up taking home ten different types of cookies. So you will have a lot of variety on your cookie tray for parties and family gatherings, but won’t have to make all those different recipes! Depending on how detailed and organized you want to be, your group can make a list of cookies to choose from, or everyone can just bring whatever they want.
Make an Advent Calendar
You don’t need to buy anything, you don’t need to make anything fancy, just focus on fun family activities for Christmas with these Advent calendar ideas!
This one is made of wood and just has simple envelopes hanging from string. It also make a beautiful Christmas decoration! But you could just create the envelope activities and put them in a basket with the number on it and countdown the days until Christmas that way.