Wednesday, December 11, 2013

6 Ways My Family Takes the Expensive OUT & Puts the Frugal IN the Christmas Season ~ And You Can Too!

Hi there and welcome!
Thanks for stopping in for my share today of 
 a few ways in which
 my family has taken back Christmas
 by literally keeping the crazy 
OUT of the  season. 
I hope you find you can make one or two of these work for you and
 your family as well.
In addition to saving money, this new "way of life"
 we've adapted protects our time and
as I mentioned in a previous post, living in the white space 
is just what we do, no matter the season.

The Lord graced me within this life
 with the most perfect vocation
for me...:
Everything I've done in my life to this point,
has prepared, in His plan,
 me for what I now do...
co-navigate, with my husband,
 the course of our family through
this life...
the children's education, social interactions,
musical endeavors
and most importantly,
faith formation.
God put me in this place and time and 
I'm doing just what He wants me to do.
I better do it to the best of my ability, right?
That's why a  number of years ago,
I realized just why  I was feeling defeated instead of
fulfilled each year 
the day after Christmas.:
It was because I was denying this gift given by God to me...
the gift of fully mothering,
of nurturing,
of providing ritual, tradition,
calm, peace and...
of defending our most precious and fleeting of commodity....
that of time.
I chose to radically change our ways, my ways,
 so that  decades from now, 
my kids would not look back on their childhoods 
and see a frantic, crazed mom in their memories.
A mom who got it all done and despite choosing motherhood 
over her career to be with them, wasn't.
For what?
To bake for her hair stylist and next door neighbor,
 to impeccably wrap gifts for her
 nieces and nephews,
 to volunteer umpteen hours at parish outreach,
 to buy buy buy and then deliver deliver deliver 
items for Toys for Tots ?
Sure, we do all this still.
But  in moderation now.
We now have time for customs that I've wanted to "do" for years 
and just recently, were able to institute into the rhythm of  our home......:
 our Jesse Tree, our advent wreath, 
our O Antiphons
and the fun aspects of Christmas too....
watching seasonal movies, making tree shaped sugar cookies
 and decorating our own gingerbread houses.
And tons more.
Time is fleeting and we each prioritize accordingly.
In addition, we've been living on one salary now for almost 14 years
 and we've needed 
to adjust and sacrifice, 
as has every family in our situation.

So, that being said, here are 6 ways which
 ***erase the crazy and the expensive
*** add  the calm and the frugal
into our Christmas to help us celebrate the true meaning of the season. 

1. We no longer send out Christmas cards.
Yeah, I know; what kind of people are we? If there was a "How to Celebrate Christmas" handbook, sending  greeting cards would be rule 1, right?  It's there in all the songs and movies, for heaven's sake. It's an annual way of life. But it's no more for us.
 With the advent of social media, my path crosses those of my friends and family members constantly. We see pictures of each other's life events, big and small...trips, birthdays, celebrations, even "ordinary" day to day things ...and how amazing is that? My point is, I'm already blessed to be in touch with the good people in my life daily. Decades ago, before social media, before email, before blogging even, there was a need to reach out and send those December greetings with updates, pictures and wishes for a Merry Christmas.
 Not so any longer.

Plus, as a keepsake? Not necessary. Our refrigerator is literally covered top to bottom with magnetic framed photos and we've pictures on walls and windowsills, plus collages of each year and each Christmas.  So we don't "need"an annual Christmas card photo.
We started sending"e-cards" which my son designs given my choice of 3-4 pictures highlighting our year and a greeting to our friends and family. At $1.40 ( the cheapest I found) per photo card times 100 or so cards times  .46 cents US postage each plus the time involved in addressing, stamping and mailing = way too much of an expenditure, despite how wonderful our families and friends are. 

2. We do not decorate beyond Thanksgiving weekend 
As the kids get older and the demands of the curriculum increase, I feel I positively need to get the house decorated early so we can enjoy the season, ready our hearts for the birth of our Savior during Advent  and focus on our work as well. This is with the exception of our tree, which we decorate the weekend prior to Christmas. 
Before my husband and I married, he owned his own home and I,  my own apartment. We brought to the marriage a total of about  25 crates of Christmas decor PLUS  a few more that my Mom enjoyed  giving us from her own stash of goodies, accrued after her then-50 Christmases  in the same house.... sentimental items that she wished we'd take and enjoy as we started our own family.
 Of course, we bought and were gifted various items here and there during our 17 years married and I, craftoholic that I am, can't resist making at least one or two "new" things each year with the boys using fun Dollar Tree finds or items already in our craft closet. Add all that up to about 40+ crates of decorations and I get a ton of  stress unpacking in December as well as  packing it all up again  in January. I have to draw the line somewhere and it's on Thanksgiving weekend.
By that Sunday night, even if Thanksgiving is "early," the house is as "done" as it will get. If a decoration doesn't make it out of its box by then,  we relegate it into what we call the "better luck next year club."  It sounds terribly unsentimental, but this is what has to be.

3. We no longer buy gifts for extended family and for friends. 
And we ask them not to buy for us and for our kids. They understand...... and in some cases, they even listen to us! ( about not buying for us, that is.) We have a huge family and we love them, but the time...and money.... that this saves is obviously huge.

4. We let go of outside commitments during Advent.
I pretty much sum this all up in this post, but it bears repeating. 

5. We use an artificial tree.
 I'm allergic to a certain type of evergreen (I haven't figured out which) and was ill every Christmas ( ! ) until I was in my late  teens when my dad was hit with the brainstorm ~   once the tree was brought into the house, I'd constantly hack and be  sinus crazy. Go Dad for figuring this out! No more real trees for me.
We  bought a "real" looking fake tree at an after-Christmas sale the year we were married and  and haven't looked back.This tree has become sentimental in and of itself and has saved us at least  $50 per year over the 18 years of our marriage. Though we don't have "finding the perfect Christmas tree outings," a la A Christmas Story, we have our own tree decorating rituals the weekend before December 25, such as blasting favorite carols and munching gingerbread cookies that the boys make that day. The tree will be perfect no matter what.

6. We don't over do it with our own kids' gifts.
The gifts  under the tree on Christmas morn are  accrued at garage sales and thrift stores throughout the year, or on sale at online sources. We don't spend a lot. I've listed more ideas in this post as well: 

I wish you and yours and very Merry Christmas and a
 frugal, unstressed, meaningful season.
I'd love it if you, too, shared a frugal tip in the comments!
Thank you so much!

Oh, and IF you are shopping at amazon this Christmas season,
would you consider clicking through my link?
Here it is:

In this way, I will receive a teeny tiny portion of the purchase.
If YOU are an amazon affiliate, please send me
your link and I will do the same!

 Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time 
here at my home on the web!
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Until next time,


...and BTW:


Post dividers and general cutesies,
courtesy of Shabby Blogs 


  1. These are great tips Chris! I am with you on almost all of them except #6. I am ashamed of what we spend on gifts for the kids when they already have a very cluttered house full of stuff! I'm planning on working on that one over the next few years. There is no need to buy so much! I do miss sending Christmas cards though but I agree with your reasoning. I haven't sent them in a couple of years and it looks like I am missing this year too. Maybe as I cut down on the kids excessive gifts, I will pick back up sending cards :). I may try your e-card route next year!

    1. Well, it's all a process, Candace, right? We want to make the season festive and showering our kids with gifts is one of the many ways we do that!

      Thanks for stopping in and for your kind words, friend!

  2. Wonderful tips. I can't let go of the Christmas cards but a few years ago I started keeping track of who sends us cards. So if someone doesn't send a card or acknowledge with a thank you our card, we cross them off our list. Last year I sent out 70, this year... 42!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

    1. Jennifer,
      Thanks for your comment and kind words!

      Great tip on the cards!

      ALways enjoy your visits, friend...take care!

  3. I love these tips and I so want to give up the Christmas card tradition, this year I just might not do it as I haven't even bought cards yet:(. We do the artificial tree too because of my husbands allergies. We are really cutting back on children's gifts this year which means less under the tree and that sort of makes me sad but I will learn to like it.:)

    1. Hi here, friend!
      Well, it seems we think alike in the cost-cutting dept! Thanks so much for visiting!

  4. I love your list here. I cut way back on card list. And on decorations for home. helps a lot with the stress and time crunch. Would rather concentrate on the reason for the season then all of this stuff that causes so much stress and empties our wallets.

    1. Colleen, Couldn't agree more! Thanks for the visit, friend and take care!

  5. I used to love sending cards, and getting them, but as you noted, sometimes we just have to make choices and sending cards to people I used to know (because the reality is if I don't see them and they aren't on fb, they are people I used to know) isn't my priority.

    1. RAnn Love your way of thinking.....priorities, priorities!!
      I'd so enjoy sending and receiving cards form this near and FAR but time just doesn't permit

      Thanks for stopping by, friend!

  6. I am so with you on the importance of focusing on faith and family during the advent and Christmas season rather than on things. But I will say that we love going as a family to cut down a Christmas tree. (we have family stories similar to your roof surfing ahving to do with cutting down our tree). Thanks for sharing at inspire Us thursday on Organized 31.

    1. Love the cutting-down-your-own-tree tradition!
      I'll bet that's one of the kids' favorites year after year!

      Thanks for stopping on, Susan! I always love your visits!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. I'd be happy to use your Amazon link for my purchases. I'd love it if you'd return the favor by using search bar on my blog!

    1. Fantastic, Heather! I've several things to pick up; so I will def be clicking through your link!

      Thank you!!


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