How to Celebrate Christmas when You Canít Afford to Celebrate Christmas
By Nancy Twigg
When gathering with friends for caroling, whenís the last time
you sang this song: "Have a pricey, costly Christmas..."? Or what about this
one: "O Christmas bills, Christmas bills, how much this season costs me!"?
Okay, maybe these arenít the words to real Christmas songs, but
they might as well be since so many of the typical Christmas traditions involve
spending. Just think about all the dollars each year that go for gifts, wrapping
paper, Christmas trees, decorations, greeting cards, and traditional meals with
all the trimmings. While each of these traditions has its place, the cost of
them all can be burdensome for families who are struggling this year due to
layoffs, unemployment and other financial setbacks.
So what do you do if your family cannot afford to celebrate
Christmas in the traditional pricey fashion? Are there ways to enjoy the holiday
season without all the spending? Thankfully the answer to this question is
"yes." Here are several ideas for keeping the celebration inexpensive, yet
meaningful for your family.
* Handcrafted gifts and decorations - Experience the joy of
giving something made with your own two hands. Handmade gifts are not only
unique but they also show you care enough to invest time, energy and creativity
into your giving. Check out books from the library or do an Internet search for
homemade gift ideas. The same goes for decorating your home. Instead of buying
decorations, use your creative abilities plus things you already have on hand to
give your home a festive look and feel.
* Electronic Seasonís Greetings - Sending Christmas cards
instead of gifts is a great way to save money, but the cost of store- bought
cards adds up quickly. Even if you make your own, the cost of postage can be
restrictive for those on a tight budget. For friends and relatives who use
email, consider sending electronic Christmas cards instead. Many websites send
e-cards for free, and they offer a wide variety of cards from which to choose.
Visit www.Gcards.com or www.123greetings.com or do an Internet search for other
free greeting card sites.
* Free family activities - When cutting corners, donít cut out
all the fun. Look for ways your family can enjoy quality time together without
spending. Check your newspaperís community calendar for free church programs,
musicals or community events. Just driving around, looking at Christmas lights
and sipping homemade hot cocoa can be great fun when you do it together.
* Focus on giving rather than receiving - Instead of moaning
about what you canít afford this year, why not focus on how you can give of
yourself? Many non-profit organizations need extra helping hands during the
holiday season. Contact your local Volunteer Center or United Way office to
inquire about opportunities for service in your area. Volunteering together
allows family members to experience the joy of giving without expecting anything
* Low-cost or no-cost gift giving - Rather than exchanging gifts
with extended family members and friends, plan a special evening together with
each family during the holiday season. Enjoy a simple meal and then watch a
favorite holiday movie or do a giant jigsaw puzzle together while munching on
popcorn and snacks. Another option is to give gifts of time or service such as
free babysitting, housecleaning, cooking, etc., to those on your gift list. Look
for ways to give meaningfully instead of materially.
Twigg is the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More
Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions. For more information about
low-cost, high-value celebrations, visit Nancy online at