How did you do on saving money this Christmas? Did you blow your budget? Are you dreading the arrival of bills in your mailbox instead of holiday cards?
We are raising three munchkins on a pretty tight budget. Here are a few things our family did this year to help refocus our Christmas:
Each year, we spend time making baked goods to give to friends and family on Christmas Eve. or Christmas Day. The children love spending the time putting together plates to give out and we have fun making the rounds and wishing others “Merry Christmas!” We have decorated sugar cookies, delivered plates of double chocolate brownie squares, and last year we even put together little s’more kits in cellophane bags. This is a great way to direct the children’s focus onto giving instead of receiving.
Last year was our first year to practice Secret Santa as a family and the children really enjoyed shopping for one family member. We wrote down the names of our immediate family members and took each child to shop for their person individually. This year, we encouraged the kids to look at their sibling’s Wish List (since Mom and Santa can’t do it all ). This worked really well and helped them focus on giving a gift the other person would love to open!
Instead of allowing endless Santa lists to be made, we encouraged the kids to think about what they really wanted for Christmas. We explained to them that big ticket items (like an iPad or Nintendo 3ds) would most likely not be purchased as gifts. Each child met with us individually to come up with a list of the “Top 5” gifts they would like to receive. We clarified for them that not all five gifts would be purchased, but we wanted to have a good idea of what they would like if Grandma or Santa asked. Refocusing on quality, not quantity and avoiding the “I want everything I see in the commercials and store ads” syndrome.
This year, I also spread out the opening of gifts. We were blessed to bake Christmas Eve. dinner for my parents and grandma. After enjoying a homemade Italian dinner, the children opened up one gift each from their Great Grandma, which was pajamas. We only allowed one child at a time to open their gift, then that child changed into their new jams, and thanked Great Grandma. This turned what could have been a two minute gift opening into twenty minutes of enjoying the process of receiving a great gift. My parents also bought the children each two gifts. We set a slow pace with these as well. Each child opened up one gift and played with it, then we had dessert before we unveiled that they had a second gift from Grandma and Grandpa to open. We made sure to focus on thankfulness and family throughout the night.
On Christmas morning, the kids opened up stockings and played with those gifts for the morning. After lunch, the children gave out their Secret Santa present and received two presents from mom and dad. This helped eliminate endless gifts and piles of toys. In fact, the toys they received from us were purchased earlier in the year with coupons or while they were on sale. The children received gifts they truly enjoyed, but not a huge pile, and they did not seem to miss the pile.
My husband and I also decided not to give gifts to each other and save the money for an upcoming road trip where we know we will want to spend money going out to eat and have extra travel expenses to incorporate into our budget.