When I was a teenager, my mom looked around after present opening one Christmas and was dismayed by the sheer amount of STUFF we had accumulated in one night. She decided then and there that something had to change. By the next year, we had decided as a family to focus more on experiences than presents, so we put our money towards a trip, and bought presents for those less fortunate rather than for ourselves.
How We Cut Back
We’ve modified our tradition over the years, but it’s carried one simple caveat throughout: buy less stuff. My parents have 8 children, 15 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren. Add in extended family and Bryan’s family, and that’s a lot of people on your shopping list! Instead of everyone getting everyone else presents, the kids’ names go into a drawing, and one adult is responsible for buying $60 worth of presents from that child’s list. For the adults, we each get a household or family gift and do a Yankee Swap type exchange. It’s a lot of fun with the stealing and the hoarding, and all of this over gifts that don’t cost more than $25 each!
Find Your Family’s Happy Medium
There are lots of ways to reduce the impact of the holidays on your budget. You can discuss with your other family members what would work well for you. Maybe it’s a drawing like we do; maybe it’s simply a spending limit per person. Maybe you decide to forgo gifts and take a trip together instead. Whatever you decide, you will find you are less stressed with running around trying to cross gifts off your list, worried about the impact on your budget, and more able to relax and enjoy your holiday traditions with your loved ones.