3 Great Ways to Celebrate Christmas Without Gifts
The compulsory gift giving around the holidays can be a big drain on an average family’s budget. But is there a way that you can skip out of this ritual while still spreading the holiday spirit.
Ever thought about how much you spend on holiday gifts each year? The real question is: How much could you be saving around this time of year by avoiding a few holiday gift exchanges? The holiday season is one of the most expensive times of the year. But this time, my husband and I are going to change that.
We plan on buying our first home next year, which is naturally a costly process, and time is of the essence. Instead of making November, December, and January our most expensive months, we’re focusing on saving and increasing our down-payment fund.
We won’t be exchanging gifts with relatives or friends or neighbors. We’re just getting a few things for each other and our son — that’s it. It will probably be our smallest Christmas yet, and I’m pretty excited.
Of course, saving for future goals around Christmas doesn’t sound too promising. It may even lead to extreme FOMO (fear of missing out). So here’s what we plan to do so that there’s still some holiday cheer to spread around, even though we plan to celebrate Christmas without gifts:
1. Giving Our Time and Talents
We will skip buying meaningless and costly Christmas gifts for everyone. We’re going to focus on giving our time and talents instead.
I want to spend more time with family around the holidays instead of wasting time standing in line at the mall and hunting down deals.
I haven’t been able to visit some family members in a long time, and would much rather drop by their homes and help around the house or do a favor for someone. Small favors can mean the world to someone who needs the help. For example, my friend’s daughter has a birthday around Christmas, and I volunteered to prepare a dish for the party because I enjoy cooking and know how stressful it can be to plan a child’s birthday party.
We’re also looking forward to doing some volunteer work either for a local organization or for an international one like Feed My Starving Children.
2. Holiday Parties and Quality Time
We still plan to attend holiday parties and enjoy the company of family and friends — just without exchanging gifts. I don’t want to miss out on watching movies, playing games, and enjoying good conversation and food with my family during the holidays.
I will set expectations ahead of time by being honest with everyone about our goal to save more money and focus on the often overlooked aspects of Christmas like being thankful for loved ones.
3. Embracing Frugal Traditions
My family and I have a lot of frugal holiday traditions, and we don’t plan to pass up on any of them this year. For example, we like to set up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and watch movies. We also like to build a gingerbread house, check out the free Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Chicago, drive around to look at Christmas lights, and go sledding and ice skating.
Our Savings Projections
All in all, we’re planning to stash away an extra $3,000 by the end of the year. This doesn’t mean that we were going to spend $3,000 just on Christmas. We usually end up spending around $1,000 on Christmas each year (give or take), but we figured out that we could set aside $1,500 in November and December through a combination of not buying gifts, being frugal, and earning extra money.
Without having to run out every weekend and shop for gifts that our friends and family may or may not like (and probably won’t even remember in a year or two), we can focus our time and energy on earning extra money and being more present with loved ones.