It is possible to keep the frugal in Christmas. I know that as Americans, we can get caught up in the glitz and glammer of the season. We walk through the isles of any store to become bombarded with lots of great ideas for gifts. It’s not a bad thing to want to make people happy at Christmas, it’s even sort of the point to want to give gifts to see smiles on our loved ones faces. However, the buying can quickly detract from what the holiday is really about.
We don’t always come from frugal families ourselves and so we really have no willpower when it comes to buying gifts for Christmas. We want a big spread under the tree and really don’t know how to do that without busting our budgets or worse, going into debt for one day a year. We don’t go into debt unless there is an emergency. We also have a large family (5 kids) that we try very hard to keep things even and fair. Here are some of the strategies that work for us as we prepare for Christmas.
I can’t stress this one enough. If you are working on a tight budget, this is necessary. If you can’t actually purchase the gifts in advance (and trust me, storage can be a huge issue as well as hiding things from kids), then put money aside in an envelope or jar for the Christmas season. This way the crunch of Christmas doesn’t hit all in one month. We weren’t able to do it last year due to our move in Nov/Dec. Not buying ahead caused a bit of cramping when it came to gift buying all in one month alongside the settling in costs. We won’t be doing that again 😉
I have mentioned numerous times that I do love a good list. Well Christmas gift buying is no exception. I have a spreadsheet with all the kids names on it and I have a game plan as to what we want to give each child. This way the number and amount spent is easily viewable. It also helps me to know what I want to buy for everyone and I won’t get bamboozled by a spontaneous request the week of Christmas that I strongly desire to fulfill. And if you think it’s easy to stick to a game plan, you would be wrong. Both hubby and I have to remind ourselves and each other about the game plan. We love seeing the smiles on their faces when they open gifts that we have thoughtfully purchased and wrapped. Having a game plan will keep you from impulse buying that tips the scales and possibly causing dissension in the ranks. Game plans keep you on budget and on target for fairness.
I come from a very rich heritage of frugal buying. I just wish I had learned more while under the direct tutelage. For Christmas, I would have a pile of gifts, carefully numbered, and many of which were not high dollar, but they were all mine! I didn’t grow up having sugared cereal or pop. When those things came into the house, they were rationed between us girls and everything was a shared item. So for Christmas, my parents would give each of us girls a pack of pop that was all ours as well as a box of our favorite cereal that didn’t have to be shared. Talk about awesome for a kid, right??
We have carried on this tradition. Our children don’t have pop very often and with 5 kids the cereal is definitely a shared item. So their first and second gifts are their own 6 pack of pop and box of cereal that they can commune all themselves.