Not overspending at Christmas is something that I believe is hard to do because there’s so much pull to spend on one thing or another. There seems to be some sort of guilt if we don’t spend “enough” on our loved ones – but really Christmas is a time for just being present. Last year we made the decision to cut back on our spending and not just throw money away “just” because it is Christmas and also got us to look at our impact on the environment (see my previous post on a Zero Waste Christmas).
Christmas is Love
We had somehow fell into this trap that Christmas is all about love. That the more we spent on our family the more it meant that we loved them – no matter what the cost. Talking about the cost it isn’t just in terms of money – but let’s stop and think about the environment! Not only in the fact that so much more ends up in landfill at this time of year but also the costs (to the environment) with production.
What we did to cut back on Christmas
A long time ago we stopped having a Christmas dinner on Christmas day. Honestly the kids want the treat of doing things they aren’t normally allowed – like having chocolate for breakfast. We even tried one year to let them have a chocolate breakfast and then had Christmas dinner and SO much food was wasted. We have Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and even then we have scaled it right back into being a bit more like a roast with a few extras. Over-eating isn’t good for our health anyway.
Honestly Christmas cards are nice but we made a conscience decision to try to cut back on buying things that we don’t need (don’t call me a hypocrite later on because we have a lot of work to do in this area so you will still find me buying things we don’t need – but it is small steps). Not only is it the cards but it is sending them – and this isn’t just the rising cost of a stamp but the means of how it is transported. I would honestly rather that went on to actually seeing people – and we are trying to make more of an effort to do that too. If anything it is much nicer to make your own Christmas Cards.
Balloons and Christmas Crackers
Likewise there’s no real reason to have balloons and Christmas crackers – and again they just go into landfill afterwards. Of course you can make your own Christmas Crackers to be more environmentally friendly – but we just decided that we could live without them.
I have to admit there were a few years when we ALL got LEGO Advent calendars. I feel these were good because the boys played with the LEGO long after Christmas. But let’s be honest advent calendars are very expensive and all that packaging is not good for the environment. In fact Mum of Three World has recently written about them too. We have bought a reusable one this year (although you can make your own toilet roll holder advent calendar) and are thinking up different ideas for each day: Christmas Crafts, Christmas cooking, sitting doing Christmas colouring pages together, playing a game, maybe staying up late, or playing a computer game and go ice-skating. There are lots of frugal things to do as a family but I would love to hear any ideas that you may have.
The part we thought would be hardest is cutting back on the Christmas Presents. Our children have always had whatever they wanted for Christmas (as long as we could afford it) and it really did get to the point where they were having things for the sake of it (a newer games console when their old one was perfectly fine) or just being given cash because there was just nothing to get them. We have so many other things we really ought to be spending our money on too, but that wasn’t really the point of stopping with the huge Christmas gift spending. No we stopped and we thought about what Christmas is really about. To me it’s about family. What we needed to give them is our time.
We explained to the children that we would be having a family Christmas and that no-one would be getting presents but that there would be family presents. Last year I think I got board games and other activities for us to do together. This year we have every Marvel film on Blue Ray to snuggle up and watch together. Then there will be chocolates each and maybe something I have seen throughout the year that is inexpensive that I think they would like or they had asked for (such as Christmas bedding).
Christmas Wrapping Paper
Of course less presents means less Christmas Wrapping Paper too (and tape/bows, etc). I have to say that I am fed up of seeing the alternatives to Christmas Wrapping Paper each year which make it look like Christmas paper cannot be recycled – it is just the non-scrunchy and glittery Christmas wrapping paper that cannot be recycled where I live so it just isn’t true (recycling does vary from area to area though so do check with yours). However, there are ways you can save money on Christmas wrapping paper.
The Family Secret Santa
Last year we weren’t sure how the children would take it and worried that it would be the worst Christmas ever. With this in mind my husband had the idea to do a Secret Santa. It went really wrong in terms of being secret due to our youngest desperately wanting his brother who was away at University. But in terms of how successful it was it was amazing – and we were so proud of how much thought the boys had put into it – they just could not wait to do it again this year. This time we met up for ice-cream to do the exchange and I know that some members of the family have already sorted their gift. Some of us are having fun trying to work out who has who but so far it is still a secret.
If you still want to give but without spending too much then why not checkout some of these free Christmas gift ideas.
Do you try not to overspend at Christmas? Or are there things you do to consider the planet?