The Christmas season is thought to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” and despite it being a time filled with joy and thankfulness, it puts a financial strain on families every year. People are getting tired of enduring the financial stress that comes with this holiday season, so much so that families are starting to change the way they celebrate it.
People celebrate Christmas in many different ways. For some families, they celebrate Christmas by going on a big trip out of the country– no gifts involved (the trip is the gift). Others are more traditional and celebrate it by way of setting up a tree, giving gifts, and decking their home in wicker Christmas decorations. The point is that the holiday season tends to put pressure and stress on people to a point where they’re considering not celebrating it the traditional way or at all, for that matter.
According to USA Today, last year, Americans spent around $1,050 on gifts, travel, decor, etc, but the holiday spending trends vary by state. Nationwide, holiday spending in the US was over $1 trillion. Nonetheless, regardless of where you live, people are spending money they don’t have on gifts and are going into debt because of it, especially families with small children.
Christmas time is when consumer debt is at the highest, and for consumers who are already in debts from other causes, it makes sense why so many families are breaking away from tradition and looking into other ways to handle the costs of the Christmas season.
But breaking holiday traditions doesn’t mean that Christmas is canceled altogether, it just means families are celebrating it in their own ways, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe instead of hiring people to hang lights at your home and having three Christmas trees, why not have only one tree, skip the outdoor lights, and have pizza for Christmas dinner? This is only a suggestion, of course, but it’s definitely worth considering.
If you’re someone who’s considering an “alternative” Christmas this year, here are some ways you can still celebrate with your family, without going into debt or without feeling guilty and avoid the financial strains that come with the holiday.
If you’re like most people, you wouldn’t buy gifts until Christmas time, and you probably just bought gifts for any and everybody you thought of, especially if you saw something you knew someone would like. Well, this year, if you’re going to still buy gifts, limit your gift-giving to one gift per person and make a list of who you’re buying gifts for.
Once you make a list of who you’re buying for, make a list of potential gifts for each person and look up the prices of those items. Also, don’t wait until the month of December to shop… If you can afford to, go on and start buying things now and get it out of the way… you might be able to catch great sales now too.
Giving gifts doesn’t have to cost lots of money. In fact, certain gifts are downright priceless. If there’s a picture of your spouse’s late mother, why not get it blown up and framed as a gift? Found your grandmother’s cookie recipe? Why not follow the recipe and bake them and give them to your father as a sentimental gift?
Gifts like these don’t have to cost a lot of money because there’s more thought that goes into it and the thought of how much it costs isn’t of any concern. Any way you can avoid spending too much but add more sentimental value is always a memorable gift.
As a family, if you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re not exchanging gifts, it’s an opportunity to do something meaningful for someone else. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor who doesn’t drive. Why not go to their house and clean it up? Or cook Christmas dinner and simply bring them a plate of food?
No matter what you decide to do, doing something meaningful for someone else is something that can be a family tradition you do every year, and it’s way more rewarding than stressing out over credit card debt from overspending.
Instead of focusing on gift-giving, spend Christmas this year with a focus on creating memories. This can involve baking cookies, making ornaments, dressing in the same pajamas, or watching old movies. Making memories is about how you spend your time together. Be sure to record or take pictures of these moments so you can go back and look at them the next Christmas while making more memories together.