The Totally Free (or Nearly) Christmas

As the years have gone on, I’ve grown tired of the Christmas retail madness. We are a family of all grown ups so gift buying is almost impossible. Everyone tends to buy what they need and want throughout the year, leaving little left for Christmas except an exchange of gift cards. (Which is kind of pointless, if you ask me. Why spend money to give someone cash and then receive cash. Why not just call it even, wish them a Merry Christmas, have a great meal together and be done with it?) Then there is always holiday pressure to give to extended family, bosses, very good clients, office gift swaps, neighbors and other friends. These people are next to impossible to buy for because I never


[Continue Reading at]

This entry was posted in Frugal, Holidays, Personal Finance, Relationships, Saving Money, Shopping and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Totally Free (or Nearly) Christmas

  1. Julie says:

    I certainly do agree with you.

  2. princessperky says:

    I think it is a lovely idea, and one I have been working on for years. This year I decided to make a commitment (husband willing) to stop buying wrapping paper, and use at least some cloth bags. Cloth bags are reusable, and sometimes you can find them cheap.

    I still have some from previous holidays to use up, but hopefully no more will be bought.

  3. Laura says:

    I started this last year but I went a lot further. I explained everything to my children and they completely understood. We don’t exchange formal gifts anymore. I will take them to the bookstore for a treat (I’m a single mom so we don’t get extras very often) and let them pick out a book and then read it with them. They get so much more out of it and it teaches them that time is more valuable than the most expensive present someone could buy for them.

    My parents and others give me a very hard time about it and tell me that I am depriving my children, but I stand firm. I would be depriving them of a financially secure future by teaching them that consumerism is important.

    How many ‘things’ do we really need anyway?

  4. Jules says:

    Right on! It sounds like a lovely Christmas to me. Enjoy.

  5. Bobbi says:

    Awesome post! Just yesterday the ‘gift’ exchange was brought up at work and I just cringed. It wasn’t received very well, so I think we are all opting out this year and just getting the boss something. Your Christmas will be much more fulfilling this year. Congrats.

  6. Andrea says:

    I agree that simplicity is best. It takes us back to the real meaning of this season–Jesus!

  7. Heibi says:

    Very good post. I completely agree. Also I never believed in getting a holiday present for bosses. I think it could unfairly affect their decision making abilities.
    However I think buying a group gift is ok.

  8. Cindy M says:

    I always figure you can wow people of any age or sex and not have to spend much if you create something different to eat and surprise them with it, a different snack with a fancy drink, a fabulous cookie, a nice meal, whether it’s family, coworkers or friends. You tell them this is what you’d rather do. Most people are tickled with stuff like this, in my experience. I figure this way I don’t look like too much of a scrooge, not that I truly care about that anymore. I feel good about it, especially if I keep the surprise aspect of it. And I don’t wait for xmass to do it, it’s when the mood hits me. We should treat people like it’s xmass a whole lot more often during the year.

    I still buy my 3 grandnephews a little something but frankly find that frustrating. I settled this year on a few games and T-shirts. I’m glad their mothers have explained to them they’ll be seeing less under their own xmass trees, and they probably aren’t expecting anything from me.

  9. Linda says:

    This article says it ALL for me and how I’ve been feeling this year. Thank you for expressing it so well!

    Linda- Seattle

  10. Pingback: Holiday Saving Strategies - Debt Reduction 101

  11. Gail says:

    I’ve been enjoying making some presents for a few people in my life. I haven’t decorated or gotten caught in the crush of Christmas madness (sometimes it pays to be chronically ill). That doesn’t mean we can’t have some special times. I know my DH can hardly wait to see what I’ve made him. He usually makes me a present every year.

  12. Tina Adams says:

    Thank you Jennifer, I feel just like you about Christmas. Besides, I rather make a phone call to friends overseas and to family here in the USA.
    When you are on a limited budget and refuse to borrow money for gifts that might be exchanged later, it is way too stressful to be enjoyable.
    I wish you a very blessed Christmas and all the best for 2009.

  13. Senator Government says:

    Here here. While you seem to have had a very hard time with the exfil from commercialism gone completely insane. For my part, I played that game for a minute, but quickly snapped back to reality when bills pile up. I used to watch a show on PBS called ‘Keeping up Appearances’ it was ridiculously funny and really overplayed the aspect of what folks do to keep up with the joneses, to the point of absurdity. But the real truth is, most people don’t even know what Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving are SUPPOSED to be about….that’s why we got into all this financial debauchery in the first place. Posiive from bad economic times: It gives people a chance to come back to reality and realize what Is important and what is Not.

  14. Joni says:

    I’m a Wiccan but love Christmas as much as Yule. But this year the retail shopping on my part stopped! I was beginning to hate Christmas/Yule and found that sad. So we bought a few gifts for our kids and left it at that. Best Yule ever!

  15. Dotty Lowe says:

    Hurrah! You have expressed the sentiments of many people. Many people are having a hard time or anticipating a hard time coming. To go further into debt is insane. For what? A loving Christmas with family and friends, a holiday meal, that’s where it’s at.
    Every year consumerism seems to grow. It’s time for a slow down.

  16. ash says:

    Beautifully said. I’m at the animal shelter too!
    I like the gift exchange games with family. One gift per person, less than $20. My girlfriends and I did a game with a $5-$10 limit.
    The gifts I bought came from There are many charities that benefit from buying there, and the amount you spend translates into bowls of food to animal shelters. Double good!

  17. Mike says:

    Where was this story back when the stupid people at the NE church were making commercials, forcing kids to say that Barack Obama would make Americans get rid of Christmas?

    I agree with the author, and have been feeling the same way about Christmas gifts since I have started having to actually buy those gifts fro people. (All the years before, Mom bought them and put us kids’ names on the tag.) It’s just too hard to buy gifts for everyone, especially since our family has exploded. We’ve only lost two people over the past 15 years, but there are 8+ new members now that my generation is old enough to marry and have kids.

    I don’t expect anything from my immediate family, either. I just want to have a nice breakfast like Mom used to make us before we opened presents (I just want the breakfast, though!). A nice cup of coffee and a conversation, along with a morning paper.

    We never had much spent on us as kids, maybe $50 bucks each at the most. When I read stories about people scaling back their Christmas spending from $6,000 to $2,000 during these poor economic times, it makes me want to puke. What kid deserves those kinds of presents? Hasn’t s/he received anything during the course of the year? No family should be obligated to waste money on presents that could otherwise be used to fund a college education.

  18. MizPat says:

    Now that the holidays are over, I’d like to give my feedback on Christmas. My biggest expense was gift cards for 5 nieces/nephews and my sister. $20 apiece for the two little girls at Walmart, $20 apiece for the boys at Amazon, $20 for the oldest girl at a vegan website and $25 for mom at a beading site. And I got my dear next door neighbor a gift card for barnes and noble which we will spend hours and hours invading the store and looking at specials over. I know that the kids were excited and pleased with the gift cards and felt they were very mature and worldly wise.

    I had a specific budget for people at work and found tons of wonderful $5 gifts at Ross and Kmart.

    I received a MP3 player from one boss, diabetic candy from another and a desk fountain from the other, and 3 gift cards, which I’m hording against emergencies.

    The rest of my budget was spent on ME, to get shoes, new work clothes and the cheapest, uncoolest television in the world that will work with a dvd player so i can play dvds for exercises, and my few dvds that I enjoy watching.

    And you know what, it was absolutely a wonderful Christmas. I went to free Christmas concerts, a christmas parade, and church. I got sick and didn’t go to the nutcracker so lost $23 bucks, there, but i drove around, looked at lights, put up my own lights and felt the wonder of Christmas. My total budget was $600, and most of it was things I really need, and the wild tv expenditure ($250).

    I didn’t buy anything that I felt like I owed, I just enjoyed giving useful little tokens of my appreciation. And I kept in my budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *