Christmas Joy When You're Broke 

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Won’t you please put a penny in the old man’s hat…

I’m not sure if I have those lyrics completely correct, but that is how we always sang it growing up.

“Christmas is coming!” Woo hoo!

“The goose is getting fat.” Umm… so we can kill him and eat him? Yikes…

“Won’t you please put a penny in the old man’s hat.” Well, ok this is kind of a depressing song about old men begging for money and a goose on death row…

You don’t have to be the old man or the goose from this Christmas song to feel a bit stressed at Christmas time. It happens to all of us when our focus is off. Is Christmas a bummer if you don’t have a ton of cash to spend on presents, travel, and parties? Maybe not totally, but it certainly can be stressful to make ends meet while also enjoying the season in conventional ways.

How do those of us without a money tree make Christmas special, memorable, and fun for our families?

First, let’s get back to basics. What is Christmas really about? Not stuff. Not food. Not parties. Not decorations. Christmas is when we celebrate that God loves us so much that He became one of us. He was born in a barn during a chaotic time in history. Simply amazing.

A Simply Amazing Christmas means slowing down, being still and enjoying the moment, holding our children tightly, speaking kind words, being thankful, and remembering the love that makes Christmas peace possible.

Christmas Joy When You're Broke

Now, let’s enjoy a simply amazing holiday. Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas without breaking the bank:

Set a budget for Christmas presents and stick with it. Let your family members know what the budget will be so they can adjust their expectations accordingly.

Be sure to budget all of the other things that go along with the holidays such as cookie baking, travel, Christmas pictures, Christmas cards and postage, pet boarding if traveling, decorations, holiday meals, holiday parties, extra gifts for gift office/school exchanges and teachers, holiday tips, etc.

Save all year long! Check with your bank to see what kind of savings club accounts they offer. You can deposit a small amount from each pay check into your Christmas club savings account and then you’ll receive a payout plus interest when you’re ready to begin Christmas shopping. So smart!

Volunteer. Do some research to see what homeless shelters, food banks, animal shelters, and ministries need donations and volunteers during the Christmas season. Make volunteering a part of your family Christmas tradition!

Attend a Christmas church service. If you belong to a church that will be holding a special Christmas service, be there! If you do not, then find one! If you love Christmas Eve services and your church isn’t having one, don’t write your pastor a complaint letter (like, seriously don’t) just find another church to visit on that night. Christmas services are a wonderful way to reflect and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Go Christmas caroling! This is so much fun and is a wonderful way to bring joy to others. Invite friends to meet at your house and ask them to bring a few dozen cookies to share. Split them up onto paper Christmas plates, wrap them well, then head out to a few location to sing and deliver cookies! Check with nursing homes and hospitals to see about caroling there and treating the staff to Christmas cookies. After the caroling, head back to your house to relax with your friends. Play Christmas music, eat cookies, and drink hot chocolate. Fun!

Shop consignment sales for gently used toys that your kids will love.

Give homemade gifts. Are you crafty? Make special gifts for friends, family, and teachers! Do you like to bake? Then make some awesome goodies, pack them in recycles cookie tins, tie them up with pretty ribbon, and deliver the yummy Christmas treats!

Play Christmas music. This may sound silly simple, but playing Christmas music costs nothing and adds a wonderful feeling to your home around the holidays.

Buy Christmas decorations… on December 26th! I have always made it a tradition to buy Christmas decorations and wrapping paper the day after Christmas at 50-75% off. Then I store the items until the next Christmas. By then I’ve forgotten what I purchased an opening the bags up is super exciting!

Do an Advent Calendar. Again, so simple, but really fun! You can make an Advent Calendar with your kids or buy one at the store. It is something simple and sweet to celebrate each day of December leading up to Christmas.

Have a Christmas movie night each week in December. Pull out some Christmas treats, get into your Christmas pjs, and have fun with Christmas classics like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and even Elf!

Wrap up 24 Christmas books in Christmas wrapping paper and read one each night of December. On Christmas morning read the Christmas story from the Bible before opening presents and say a prayer together as a family.

Cash in lose change. Do you have jars of change sitting around the house? Cash them in! It’s surprising how coins can add up. Use the cash for presents or other items needed during the holidays.

Deliver some smiles! On Christmas morning after opening presents, visit a few places where people have to work that day and deliver some cookies and thank them for their service. Think about gas station attendants, nurses and doctors in hospitals, nursing home staff, etc.

Have a family game night. Pop some popcorn and enjoy some fun interaction with your family over some games. Be sure to play some Christmas music in the background!

Start a giant jigsaw puzzle on December 1st. Everyone in the family can work on the puzzle throughout the month.

Go for a drive and enjoy the Christmas lights around your town.

Use cash. Don’t mortgage next year for this years shopping.

What awesome (cheap) ideas do you have for celebrating the season? I would love for you to share below!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Joy When You're Broke

21 Comments on Christmas Joy When You Are Broke

  1. Kung Phoo
    October 15, 2014 at 5:57 pm (3 years ago)

    Usually that time of year makes me broke! Thanks for the tips things are gonna change over here..

  2. Spaceships
    October 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm (3 years ago)

    These are great tips. I will be using a few of them.

  3. Natalie H
    October 15, 2014 at 11:17 pm (3 years ago)

    I totally went to Target last year after Christmas, I saved over $200 and only spent like $25 pretty freaking sweet.. just in decorations.

  4. JaimeLovesStuff
    October 16, 2014 at 2:04 am (3 years ago)

    I love this! I have been buying little by little all year because this year is famine, last year was a feast! LOL. These are fantastic tips!

  5. tawnimarie
    October 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm (3 years ago)

    AMAZING ideas! I especially love the one about unwrapping and reading a different book every night, and the jigsaw puzzle idea! SO starting these traditions this year! xo

    Oh, and this? "A Simply Amazing Christmas means slowing down, being still and enjoying the moment, holding our children tightly, speaking kind words, being thankful, and remembering the love that makes Christmas peace possible." A M E N

  6. lynnmosher
    October 17, 2014 at 1:38 am (3 years ago)

    Great ideas, Carissa! Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to use any of them. I don't think Christmas will be visiting our house this year.

  7. Elizabeth Copeland
    October 17, 2014 at 5:26 am (3 years ago)

    A few years ago, we just reached out and told people that we weren't doing Christmas gifts so much anymore. Any gift that is a burden to us, is not a true gift. It's been interesting to learn to live with less, and to hear people's reactions. We focus more on Catholic traditions and spending time with one another.

  8. Dara
    October 17, 2014 at 5:28 am (3 years ago)

    Great ideas!!! I especially love the movie one, and spreading cheer to those working on the holiday. So thoughtful! Thanks for sharing, hope to check some of these off my list!

  9. Erica@RaisingMunchies
    October 18, 2014 at 6:53 am (3 years ago)

    I love the idea of watching a Christmas movie every week in December! I think we just found a new tradition 🙂 We usually save all year for Christmas so we know we already have it taken care of. Makes it a lot less stressful. Thanks for the great ideas!

  10. Julie
    October 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm (3 years ago)

    I love all these ideas, and especially the puzzle. I've never thought of that but am going to do that this year!

  11. Denise Bertacchi
    October 20, 2014 at 4:04 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing with the Mommy Needs a Timeout Linky party, we're pinning it now. Maybe we catch you again on Thursday!

  12. Rebekah Thompson
    October 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm (3 years ago)

    I love these tips. Just last year e started doing 1-want, 1nee, `1- to waer and 1- to read. I lover how simple it makes things and it helps us to stay on budget.

  13. Janell Mares
    October 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm (3 years ago)

    I found this great post from the Frugal Friday Link Up Party! I often think people do forget about the reason for the season. I am not going all out this year. I spend to much money and always end up broke. Thanks for the great tips!

  14. Robert McCarty
    October 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Clarissa,
    Excellent post. Lots of ideas and practical information..
    I would like to send you a reader copy of Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale.
    You can read sample chapters at It would make a wonderful holiday Giveaway.
    Dog loving moms and kids love this book.
    It tells the story of how the dogs saved Christmas (Dasher and Dancer were missing and there could be no Christmas…).
    If you would like a copy, please let me know by emailing me at with a postal address.
    You can learn more about us at our Barking Planet blog
    Best wishes,
    Robert McCarty
    PS:Wayne Walker on the Home School Book Review wrote…"Dog lovers will especially like these tales, but everyone else can enjoy them too. Snow Valley Heroes has the potential of becoming a favorite holiday story for both children and adults.

  15. Carol Jeanette Gumban
    November 18, 2014 at 3:21 am (3 years ago)

    Great tips Clarissa! We will definitely try those practical ideas this year. I believe that Christmas is about God, family and good friends. It doesn't matter if we have a lot to serve during the season or nothing at all, the most important thing is that we may be able to celebrate it with love in our hearts. As a mother I know my role is to make sure that my family, especially my children, will celebrate it by keeping it's true meaning our hearts. My son is a Biliary Atresia patient, he have a life threatening liver disease and the only life saving measure for his survival is liver transplant. We will not be having a lot to serve this Christmas but we have a lot of things to be thankful for. I thank God for all the wisdom, grace and love we have received in the previous months. So this Christmas, I wish that my son will be better and that that the world will be educated about Biliary Atresia so that there will be more little angels that will be saved. May God be glorified in every story of their lives and struggles. Without him we are nothing.

    The battle has not yet ended for us and we are still fighting a good fight of faith. Having said that, I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to please find a place for my son in your hearts so that he may be able to undergo liver transplant. Please visit this page and donate:

  16. Capernius Reynolds
    December 2, 2014 at 10:45 pm (3 years ago)

    For me, this is the most depressing time of year.
    I have numerous health problems that will not allow me to eat regular food like everyone else does, I am deaf so I can not hear anything,
    I have nobody to buy for/celebrate with, so I sleep….
    I start my "hibernation" about the 25th of November, & finish it about 4th or 5th of February. During this time, I'll eat once or twice a day & when I'm not eating, I'm sleeping….constantly sleeping.

    enjoy your Christmas season, I'm going back to bed.

  17. Anonymous
    December 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm (3 years ago)

    I make an advent tree of gifts. Books, board games, gingerbread kit, and cheap movies that can be bought all year long and wrapped up as a surprise and stacked in the shape of a tree. Whatever they choose is the activity of the night. That way, they are full of gifts and fun BEFORE Christmas even comes and not having a lot is no big deal. There are 7 of them, so that is every year…

  18. Anonymous
    December 3, 2014 at 10:40 pm (3 years ago)

    We are slowly giving up exchanging gifts as most are a waste of money and forgotten about by boxing day
    We do experiences
    It might be a visit to somewhere like a ghost house $6 on Groupon, a movie a round of mini golf, a special meal
    or even a trip to the park or the beach or somewhere just sight seeing

    You can be depressed or you can have some fun
    It is your choice
    From the time school breaks up we start doing crafts It is amazing what you can find in a local park, at the beach or just around the house or neighbourhood to craft with
    You can make some homemade gifts with this All it costs is a bollte of glue and what ever you find on your treasure hunt
    For wrapping paper get some newspaper and some cheap kids paint and let them go to town painting it Use drawings they have brought home throughout the year as wrapping paper

    We give our presence not our presents and love it Christmas really is what you make of it

  19. Valerie
    January 2, 2015 at 11:02 pm (3 years ago)

    These are all wonderful ideas on how to enjoy the Christmas season with very little money. I always enjoy driving around to see Christmas lights and decorations, and this is a very inexpensive way to experience Christmas cheer. Thanks so much for sharing!


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