My Tips for a More Peaceful/Frugal Christmas Season

If you celebrate Christmas at all, you know it can be stressful, even though we all agree Christmas shouldn’t be a time of stress, but rather of joy and celebration!

I deal with it every year.  Torn between traditions and finding a balance and keeping my sanity.  So I wanted to throw out some random ideas that I have either implemented or plan to for a more peaceful AND more frugal Christmas (because we all know one of the major stresses can be money.)

  • I shop on line as much as possible and practice a few tricks:
  • Look for things you can buy in bulk/lots.  For example, one year I accidentally came across a lot for sale–12 items–of beautiful chenille throws on Ebay.  Even with shipping, they were $4.00 each and we gave neighbors and friends one (so if you got one, now you know what a cheap giver I am…sorry!)
  • If I buy from a store, I also search for a coupon code before I check out.  Yesterday I was browsing 
    Great Deals at CBD
    and found this coupon:  Free Shipping Code:  289128CZ
  • Think outside the box.  Last night I purchased the ebook “Games for Everybody“, a delightful collection of simple and fun games (almost 200) for children and adults from a book compiled in the late 1800’s.  (One of our blog readers has an entrepreneurial son who started this clever, on-line business, Olde-Books!)  I’m always suggesting that my children play games together and they claim they don’t know any 🙂  So I’m going to print off some of the games from the ebook, bind them together in a hard copy and give them to my children for Christmas.  Then when they say “we don’t know what to play“…you know my answer!  Better yet, if you buy before Tuesday, get $1.00 off with the coupon code “wreath”!
  • Think of food gifts.  I think this year we are going to get an easy peanut brittle recipe and make a ton of it, break it up and put it in cool containers to give all the men on our list.  I thought of the idea from a magazine we got in the mail–theirs cost $19.99, I figure we could do it for a few bucks.
  • Get your Christmas cards cheaper.  I was too late to post the freebie, but the place where we got our cards for free is now offering 40% off your photo card order plus free shipping with 60 or more cards!  Seehere is where to go, and the 40% off coupon code is cards-30.  Just create your photo card then enter the code at checkout!  We really loved our cards (though I wish we had spent more time on the photo!)  Here’s how they turned out (except the real ones aren’t pixelated–don’t know why it uploaded that way 😉

UPDATE:  I just received a new code in my inbox for 50% off at Seehere!  I’m almost sure this includes the photo prints and does still come with the free shipping.  The 50% off code is 2day, and only lasts for 2 days (ends 12/7).

christmas-final-small

christmas card

You all must have tons of frugal ideas to lessen the stress of the holidays…do share!

42 Responses to “My Tips for a More Peaceful/Frugal Christmas Season”

  1. Civilla says:

    What a nice card! I’m sure your children will all be good friends when they grow up, too, as they obviously are now. You have a lovely family. I love to see my two grown sons cherish each other now that they are older (they got along pretty good as children, too).

  2. Sweet family, and thanks for the reminder of how behind I am ;). Merry Christmas!

  3. Word Warrior says:

    cottage child,

    Man, I almost forgot until your reminder…this is the VERY first time we’ve actually had Christmas cards done before like Christmas Eve…honestly. Every year I say I’m going to be more organized, but I’m beginning to realize that *organize* is just not my gift (Doesn’t that sound so much better than, “I’m too lazy to discipline myself to do anything on a schedule”?)

    But the deadline for the freebie pushed me to do it. In other words, my cheapskate side trumped my disorganized one 😉

    If it makes you feel better, this is the ONLY thing I’m ahead on. And don’t get too excited…I haven’t actually sent them yet.

  4. Diane says:

    I’m with Cottage child… sooo far behind. yikes!

    You know, for one year, just one year is all I ask, I’d like to do a no-gifts Christmas. The whole process of buying gifts is so incredibly stressful for me. My wonderful family would probably love whatever I got them, but still I feel this terrible pressure. My parents buy us lovely costly gifts, and they love doing it. But nothing I can buy within my budget could possibly come close to what they give. I know I could make some wonderful things that they’d love, and that is actually what I usually do. Still the whole thing is fraught with tension for me and not joyful at all. How marvelous it would be to just once celebrate the birth of my Savior without all of that added stress!

    (Now I’m afraid you all know what a dreadful Scrooge I am! *blush*)

  5. Word Warrior says:

    Diane,

    I agree with you completely! In fact, we keep threatening different approaches to “wean” ourselves from the standard traditional practices–not because we’re opposed to tradition, but as you said, there seems to be so much pressure to buy stuff that really no one needs. It feels…”not right” to meander through a store just looking for something when you can think of nothing your recipient really needs.

    Yet, Christmas, from a traditional point of view, doesn’t seem like Christmas without gifts.

    We actually do very little compared to most. I do have friends who don’t celebrate Christmas at all; that would seem to present an equal amount of pressure.

    All in all, way too much commercialism, for sure.

  6. Diane says:

    You wrote: “It feels…”not right” to meander through a store just looking for something when you can think of nothing your recipient really needs.
    Yet, Christmas, from a traditional point of view, doesn’t seem like Christmas without gifts.”

    And there is the tension I guess, right? On the one hand spending oodles of money on gifts just for the sake of buying gifts seems silly and ridiculously consumptive, but on the other hand, Christmas just doesn’t seem “right” without gifts. I have suggested going without gifts, but my extended family seems genuinely horrified at the thought.. not because they themselves want gifts, but because they love to give. It’s hard to justify discouraging that or not appreciating it, you know? Sigh… If I am completely honest I will admit that my stress comes mostly from my financial constraints rather than any sense of spiritual high mindedness. If I had the money to just cruise around online or venture out to the mall and buy whatever struck my fancy, I’d probably love doing Christmas gifts, lol.

  7. Heather says:

    Ever since my 1st child was born, (who is now 16 and my 11th child is almost 6 months!) we have always given 3 gifts to each of our children. My husband always said if Jesus only got three gifts, why should we get more than Him! I thought that was a great point, so it has always “stuck” with us. We get them each a book, a puzzle or game and then either a gift card or a “brain” toy. That is
    something that will encourage creativity! (Ex- lego’s, blocks,kinex, tinker toys, etc.) It is nice to know what to buy each year and the kids know what to plan for. We only spend a minimal amount and ALWAYS use cash! I have not bought books online for Christmas but thanks to this post, I am going to get on right now and get an Amazon gift card for my oldest daughter! Thanks for the great ideas! You are a blessing!

    PS love the picture! I tried to get one taken last weekend and little people WOULD NOT cooperate! Might be sending people a note with my blog address on it instead of a letter this year!:) Less stress that way!

  8. Jennifer says:

    We keep it simple and frugal too. I really like to make things. For some people I am making jars of candied pecans (with honey and sea salt) and fermented saurkraut.FYI-Dollar Tree has great holiday tins and plates to put cookies and such in.

    For our kids we are making a car playmat and a kitchen-
    http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/how-to-make-your-own-play-mat-669708/
    http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/kid-size-kitchen-670727/
    We already have some off the stuff so I think they should be less than $20 each for us to make. My mom is sewing the kids a canvas teepee too!

  9. Heather, we do the same thing – 3 gifts – they get so many others from family and friends that we still come home with 100 (really, 100!) new things at Christmas time between the five of us. Somewhere in there Jesus has left the building!

    We have a new policy this year – every gift we buy is either handmade, made by us, or “found” – a great thrift store find, antique, etc. So far, so good. I am clenching just a little because my family, who are wonderful, can be a little over the top and I dread the awkward “comparison” in price tags. Anyway, I HOPE they get the hint, and feel liberated to reel it in going forward. And if not, I guess not, right?

    This year we decided one of the three gifts for our children will be a Compassion child sponsorship, three, in the names of each of our three children. I pray it is as meaningful and rewarding for them as it has been for me.

  10. Kim M says:

    I absolutely LOVE the card. How in the world you can get ALL OF THEM to look at the camera at the same time is beyond me.

    My youngest always wants to make a silly face so it takes us forever with only three!

    Diane, I am so with you on the financial stress. Last year actually became one of my favorite gift giving times because I had to get creative. I made a whole bunch of those blue jean purses (where you cut off the legs and sew it shut), a quilt, some rice heating packs, and some marshmallow guns. I got almost all of the ideas from Kathy@TeachingGoodThings.com. We were so broke and those ideas were such a blessing.

    This year I am hoping to make some framed verses (scrapbooking style). I also did a lot of my shopping at CBD this year. They have several of the Focus on the Family Radio Theater sets on sale. Those make great gifts to give whole families.

  11. Mrs W says:

    It really irks me to see this year so many people being such cheapskates with their own children, buying them things that children don’t even like (like a stupid e-book). Or pretending they are spiritual by only doing three gifts and pretending it is somehow Biblical.

    These are your CHILDREN. It doesn’t matter if they “need” anything or not, can’t you buy them something nice, something cool, because you LOVE them? Where is the love in this kind of cheapskate Christmas. Our kids generally only get new toys or clothes at their birthdays and Christmas. We like to make things special.

    Gift giving should be very personal and a sign of love. I wrote about my thoughts here: http://aussiemama.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/personalized-gift-giving/

    The gift and tradition thing is really important to me. Can you tell that my main love language is gifts? And if your child’s main one is gifts, and all they get is cheap junk, they won’t feel loved…trust me on that…LOL.

    I understand the desire to save money, but it’s only once a year…please show your children you love them.

  12. Diane says:

    Thanks so much Kim… both for the commiseration and the ideas;) I am definitely going to check that link out. Blessings to you all♥

  13. Aaron says:

    Mrs. W.,

    For the love! Did my wife say that all she bought our kids was an ebook? We also found a great buy on a violin and other various things our children have been wanting. The cost of a gift doesn’t equal “value”. Our children react with overwhelming gratitude each Christmas, and always with a “this is the best Christmas we’ve ever had”. I bet the others here can attest to that.

    But how rude of you to come on and accuse everyone of being “unloving” because they have an uncanny ability to bargain shop!

    And I assure you, gifts are not the primary way parents show children love to them. Daily sacrifice and building relationships and just being with them is. (BTW, children do not all have the same love language.)

    Sorry to rant, but I peek on here to read and find such a bitter-sounding comment and it “irks” me.

  14. Lori says:

    Weeellll, my ideas for a simplified Christmas is to stay home that day!!! We quit traveling to family homes and the big extended family gift exchange b/c really…..noone needs anything…seriously. We always made our gifts…doll dressers for the girls, marshmallow guns for the boys or barns and fold out fences…but they were made well and last a lifetime. In exchange, we received absolute junk from …ah hem….certain cheap dollar stores. Like Mrs. W. said…not a sign of love…for certain.

    Last year we sang in a community “Messiah” and that was very meaningful…focusing on scripture and the coming of our Lord with classic music.

    We give our 7 children one gift and a stocking with smaller gifts. We aim to get them something they want/like and can use a long time and won’t fall apart the next day! The stocking usually holds a favorite Music cd for the teens, gum, or another food item/candy ( things they do not get throughout the year!!!) or small toy…I also like to get them books, paints, crayons, art supplies for stockings.

    We eliminate extra parties/outings and decide what is important/meaningful or less stressful in a given year.

    One thing we have done is to fill boxes for Samaritan’s Purse…and let the kids do it. That is fun and meaningful ( and reminds us how really blessed we are here in the States)

    At some point, we go on a “pajama ride” and look at all the fancy Christmas lights and have a snack in the van. Just for fun.

  15. Mrs W – Merry Christmas.

  16. Mrs W says:

    Merry Christmas to you, too, by the cottage child.

  17. Mrs W says:

    So glad Jesus wasn’t a cheapskate, aren’t you guys? He gave everything.

  18. Lori says:

    Mrs. W – I hear Jesus gave wine as a wedding present once – and he made it himself 😉

  19. Word Warrior says:

    Lori,

    Ha! Homemade presents do rock! Mrs. W., please consider (before you just rip everybody’s head off) that many people have lost jobs and/or are trying to be good stewards of their one income in order to stay home and love on their children. To be resourceful, frugal and creative is not stupid or unloving.

    Blasting women for doing such is.

    (My husband left a comment that got stuck in the spam filter…it is higher up.)

  20. Diane says:

    Thank you to Aaron… As I was reading his comment I was reminded of a lean season we had a couple of years ago. All I was able to give my children were a few tiny things(and I do mean tiny, as in a candy bar or a chapstick) along with their “big” gift: a set of pajamas I made from flannel I got on special for $1/yd. I felt absolutely awful, and as though I was depriving my children, but you know what? The kids were absolutely fine. They loved their jammies- they really did, and now 2 years later they are all still wearing them. I still tear up when I think of that Christmas, and how wonderful we all felt in spite of the “cheap” gifts. And my children in turn gave me the greatest gift they ever could have that year; they demonstrated the largeness of character and kindness to value the love and care that went into their gifts even if they might have been “cheap junk.”

    I am reminded of what Aaron said about daily sacrifice and time spent together being the primary way we show our children our love. Because of the time and energy and love I spend on my children day in and day out, they would never doubt my love for them or my devotion to them merely because their Christmas gifts don’t measure up to someone else’s standard of what is acceptable. Thank God.

  21. Word Warrior says:

    A sweet reader sent me this link (buynothingchristmas) in honor of the recent “scolding”. I’ve looked at it briefly and it is very thought-provoking!

  22. Lori says:

    Hey Kelly, would you mind double-checking the link about “the recent ‘scolding?'” Thanks in advance.

  23. Word Warrior says:

    Oopsie…(told you I was a scatter-brain). Fixed.

  24. Lori says:

    Am I going blind? Because now I can’t find any link! =/

  25. Lori says:

    Thanks; did you check out the Buy Nothing Catalogue? Charming!

  26. Carmen says:

    Beautiful card! Love the ideas! Thanks!!

  27. Kim M says:

    Another idea….

    One of my most favorite Christmas presents as a child was a home-made dollhouse. My mother made it and used scraps of real material to make curtains and carpet, etc. I still remember that gift because of the love and time she put into it.

  28. Kim M says:

    Lori, I love your pajama ride idea.

  29. Mrs W says:

    Ladies, I have been given objective feedback from elsewhere telling me that my post was rude. I am sorry. I had no intention of being rude, I really just wanted people to think.

    This year I have been inundated with people telling me that I hate God and His word because I wish we could have a Christmas tree. I am told that I am wanting an idol. Then I am being told that I shouldn’t even give my kids any gifts because celebrating Christmas is celebrating the winter solstice and it’s evil! It has also been showing up on blogs everywhere.

    In my annoyance I wrote some things down, so in future I will have to learn that if I am annoyed, to NOT write anything for others to see at that time.

    For the record, I am not against home made, or against thrifted gifts for my children, so long as that gift is made or chosen especially for them. I LIKE spending hours planning what to get my children, so that I can cater to their tastes. I know people who go to the thrift store, buy all the matchbox cars they can, divide it up between the kids, and wrap that. That is the kind of thing I’m against because they already have a million AND not all the kids like them, but that’s what they got because mommy had no imagination. I am all FOR finding the perfect outfit, doll etc for your child at the thrift store.

    Sorry I came across as rude, particularly when it wasn’t you ladies I was annoyed with, but rather the people that continue to send me this junk year in and year out after my husband has requested them to stop.

    My trying to think post didn’t work so well at all.

    Merry Christmas.

  30. Lori says:

    Mrs. W, thanks – but about those comments you’ve been getting, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if they were made sarcastically. Not that that’s less annoying, but at least it would mean no one really thinks you’re an idol worshipper.

  31. Charity says:

    Kelly,
    This may not be too original, but one of my little frugal Christmas ideas is that we don’t purchase wrapping paper. I ask for paper bags rather than plastic a few times at the grocery store and use them to wrap with. To decorate the packages for others I let my children color on them or do their handprints. It makes them personal, and cute! 🙂

  32. Word Warrior says:

    Charity–we did the same thing and it was the year we got so many compliments on our packages. We also used pieces of old quilt cut into shapes, leaves, pine cones, fabric, and any other object we could think of.

  33. Mrs W says:

    Lori, these people are serious…they use Jeremiah 10 that IS talking about idols to prove it. But that is another matter entirely.

    I gave my kids a HUGE box to play in today…they are acting like it’s Christmas LOL.

  34. Lori says:

    Mrs. W – Pahahahahahahaaaa! That’s hysterical!

    “For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

    They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. ” Jeremiah 10:3,4

    No really, they have GOT to be kidding! 😀 HAhahahaha!

  35. Lori says:

    Wait! Wait! (ahem)

    “Deeeeeeeck the halls with pagan folly!
    Fall-all-all-all-all,-all,-all away!”

    “Neeeeeext you know it’s voo-doo dollies
    When you foll-oll-ollow pagan ways!”

    Thank you. Thank you. Call my agent to book your next Christmas party.

  36. Mrs W says:

    Lori, love your song…haha…

    And yeah, I tell people the Christmas tree can’t possibly be an idol…if it was, why would I dump it out on the curb for trash pickup after Christmas?

    I don’t have the money to deck it with silver and gold, either. HAHA.

  37. Mrs W says:

    What I really want to tell them though is to shut up and go spoil their own Christmas with all their rules and just be happy we don’t do Santa. LOL.

  38. Christina says:

    Kelly and others: I used Seehere.com as late as Thursday with the code: newbaby and got 50 photo cards for free. They came on Saturday. Incredibly fast shipping and they look TERRIFIC! Better than the Shutterfly ones I got last year. I already have them addressed (and I am one that usually doesn’t get them out until Christmas Eve…lol).

  39. Word Warrior says:

    Christina,

    Really? I’ll have to try again. It seems like I remember trying that code again and it didn’t work…or maybe they reinstated it. Anyway, thanks for the tip.

  40. testt says:

    I’ve observed that in the world the present moment, video games are definitely the latest fad with children of all ages. Often times it may be unattainable to drag young kids away from the activities. If you want the very best of both worlds, there are numerous educational activities for kids. Thanks for your post.

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