Growing up, my most vivid memories involve the magic of Christmas. Visiting Santa, shopping and wrapping gifts, performing in the Christmas pageant, enjoying a special family dinner, and eagerly waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought.
As a parent, I want my kids to experience the same joy of the holidays. And yet, with all the Christmas festivities, activities, and presents it is easy to go overboard.
Every year I tell myself I am done shopping and every year I always seem to get “just a couple more stocking stuffers,” or see a great deal too good to pass up, or worry that what I have gotten for others is not enough.
But guess what? It is enough. More than enough. Many years, it’s too much.
So, this year, our goal for this holiday season is to create a meaningful, magical Christmas while sticking to a budget and focusing more on memories than things.
Here’s the plan (will you help us stick to it?).
Focusing on Traditions
The magic of Christmas is in the traditions, not just the gifts. Yes, gifts are a fun part of the traditions, but there is so much more.
What traditions matter to you and your family?
I asked this question to my family, and I loved hearing their answers:
- My husband says he loves his advent calendar (with beers) and family time on Christmas Eve.
- Our six-year-old, Little I, says he loves “Johnny” (our Elf on the Shelf), his advent calendar, night walks with Mom to see the lights, and Santa. He also says he loves seeing Grandparents.
- Our two-year-old has no anticipation of Christmas yet, but I’m sure he’ll be stoked on Christmas morning 🙂
- I love decorating the Christmas tree, sending and receiving holiday cards, and Christmas Eve dinner with family.
These are the traditions that matter to our family – some are things we buy, but most are special experiences we have together. By focusing on these special traditions, we can create a meaningful Christmas without breaking the bank.
And, speaking of gifts…
Did you know the average American household (who purchases Christmas gifts) plans to spend $900+ on gifts?
Our budget for gifts this year will be pretty minimal ($200 all up). Most of this will go toward the kids, but we will also do small, homemade consumable gifts for our close family.
I realize we are lucky; we do not exchange gifts with a large circle of friends or family. We also have grandparents who love to buy gifts for the kids, though we’ve started asking for experiential gifts instead of toys (they are starting to come around).
For our gifts for the boys, I love the idea of “4 gifts”:
- Something they want (ex: Lego set)
- Something they need (ex: new shoes)
- Something to wear (ex: PJs)
- Something to read (ex: a book)
For stockings, I plan on doing a couple experiential gifts for each boy – instead of buying more toys and trinkets. These will be a mix of paid activities (archery lesson, soccer class) and DIY certificates (“hike date with mom,” “rainy day puddle jumping,” etc.).
So, that’s the plan!
As the season of traditions (and consumerism) is well underway, let’s all create a meaningful holiday season by focusing on the unique traditions that really matter and having a plan (and budget) for gifts.
We’ll report back and let you know if we stuck to the plan!
How are you creating a magical Christmas on a budget? Leave a comment below!
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