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.
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!