Making Christmas Merry (while keeping your sanity and sticking to your budget)

In October of last year, I wrote a series of posts about celebrating Christmas in a meaningful and not frenzied way.

(I was going to write an ebook, but life kind of got in the way, and I realized I’d really rather write a series of posts!)

I was inspired to write this series because it makes me sad to see that for so many people, the Christmas season is full of stress and spending and busyness, and all of that effort and money isn’t even bringing much joy.

Christmas can be so much better when we pare back and do only the really meaningful stuff…things like spending time with people we love and selecting gifts with care.

Anyway, I wrote about all that stuff in these posts, so I will resist the urge to rehash it all here!

The posts in the series are a little bit inconvenient to find, now that they’re all buried in the archives, so I thought it might be helpful to put them all together here in a nice, neat package.

1. Introduction

2. Think more about serving and less about impressing.

3. Make a priority list.

4. It’s ok to have an imperfect Christmas. And it’s ok to say no.

5. 3 ways to lower children’s Christmas present expectations

6. 5 ways to spend less time Christmas shopping

7. On compromise, unselfishness, and not falling out of the boat on the other side

8. Start a holiday activity/social plan

9. Make a list of giftees and plan your purchases now

10. On giving meaningful gifts

11. More Experiences, Less Stuff


  1. says

    Hi, Kristen! Do you have any advice on asking extended family to pare down giving? We hope to keep our children’s expectations low but my inlaws are totally into the “bright, loud, flashy 45000 presents” Christmas celebrations. I’ve given them a wish list for our daughter (at their request, of course!) but they don’t ever think my lists are long enough. They buy everything in the list and more. Help!!

  2. Elizabeth says

    We’ve adopted a method for children’s gifts that I’ve seen elsewhere on the Internet. Something you want. Something you need. Something to wear, read, eat, watch….interchangeable and easily adapted to suit your family’s needs/preferences.

    We buy for the cousins (there are only 2) and my mom because if she doesn’t get presents she feels you don’t love her (not the view we look to instill in our children, but it’s who she is)

    • Diane C says

      LOL, Elizabeth, we must have the “same” mother. She was so selfless when we were growing up, but now she has turned into a whole other person. I wish I knew why. Alas, it’s just easier to try to avoid the drama than get her to change. So sad. I try to find super deals on things throughout the year so that she has lots to unwrap at Christmas without killing my budget.

  3. Lorelei says

    This is amazing. While I don’t have children yet, I have 5 siblings, and several nephews and nieces. My parents were Jehovah’s witnesses so growing up we never had Christmas or birthdays or any of the usual gift-giving holidays. But now that we are older, my siblings and I absolutely love Christmas and birthdays! But it wasn’t til recently I realized why we love it so much and almost all other adults stress out majorly – we gave grown up without the expectation of presents, and the perfect meals and decorations etc etc. I love Christmas because my siblings and I get together and enjoy each other’s companies with the time we all have off of work for those few days/weeks, while making new traditions of our own.

    I am really blown away when I see some people stressing their heads off when they have to spend so much money and do so many activities to keep everybody satusfied over Christmas.
    This is my 5th Christmas ever and I am truly excited to sew my friends presents, paint my own ornaments and most of all, spend time with my loved ones without the hubbub and horse fodder that comes with the materialistic side of Christmas.

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