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Guest Post: Simplify Christmas Without the Guilt

Note from Crystal: Rachel's post kicks off a short series we'll be doing here over the next few days on Celebrating a Simple Christmas. I'll be sharing some of the things our family is doing, baking, and making to enjoy
this special time of year while keeping it very simple. I hope the
ideas shared will be an inspiration and encouragement to all of you to
slow down and focus on what really matters this season.

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Guest Post by Rachel from Small Notebook

We are simplifying our Christmas this year, finding ways to celebrate that aren't costly or emotionally draining. It feels amazingly free to let go of obligations, not try to do it all, and focus on the traditions that our family enjoys most.

When I shared about this recently, my friend Megan responded:

So am I reading this right that you might possibly NOT be sending Christmas cards this year? Because I so want freedom from Christmas cards. Can I opt out? It would be the second year in a row. Am I a bad person/friend?

Okay let me be honest: I haven't sent Christmas cards since 1995.

Do I feel guilty? Not really.

It's so easy to wonder and worry:

  • Will friends still like me?
  • Will they think that I am unorganized?
  • What if they send me a card, but I don't send one to them?

Sometimes Christmas seems like putting on a show. It's wearisome, and it leaves us wanting more.

I've been thinking about what a simple Christmas would be like for us, and together with my husband we have chosen some things to cut back on.

This means I won't get to act like Martha and show off my amazing skills. (Which is a good thing, considering my past kitchen disasters.)

More and more, I have to remember that Christmas is not about me. It's not about what I can do, what I can make, or how organized I can be.

If our Christmas is to resemble the way that Christ came to this earth, then we need to take a step back. The way Jesus was born was humble. It wasn't a spectacular show. It wasn't a production. I want my Christmas to reflect that, so I can dwell on him this season.

If I don't send cards this year, or have a huge pile of gifts to pass out, or fill up my kitchen with cookies, it will be okay. It could be more than okay–joyful even.

I will assume my friends will be understanding and gracious, and they will still like me, even without cards. Benefit of the doubt is a gracious gift: it makes it so much easier to live with others. When you give benefit of the doubt to others, you are saying, "I am looking at the best in you."

When you receive it from others, it means, "I don't need to be perfect, or try to look like it."

Jesus said, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30 NIV), and I am convinced that goes for the holidays too.

May you have a blessed, peaceful, and guilt-free holiday season.

Rachel Meeks writes about making a simple and peaceful home. To read more about having a "Come As You Are" Christmas without the frenzy, visit Small Notebook.

Is your family proactively doing anything this year to keep Christmas simple? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section!

photo by Lili Vieira de Carvalho

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54 Comments

  • Erin says:

    This Christmas will be a lot simpler this year. My husband’s extended family has decided to still have their get-together’s, but minus all the presents. He has lots of relatives, and this has already relieved a lot of stress for many of them. Christmas shouldn’t be stressful, and it’s nice to see them simplify.

  • We have simplified christmas and made it NOT about gifts. We have made it about family and traditions and Jesus, most importantly.

    But you know, we love sending our newsletters out…you just have decide what frees you up and not worry about anything else.

  • This is such a wonderful post. It amazes me how easy it is to get caught up in the commercialism this time of year. Time to take a step back and re-prioritize. Thanks for posting!

    Valerie
    Frugal Family Fun Blog
    Good times on a budget!
    http://www.frugalfamilyfunblog.com

  • My husband and I don’t usually do anything elaborate for Christmas, because we don’t need to. Our children are 3, 2, and 1 (yes, you read that right), so they don’t care what they get. In fact, we don’t even hype up Christmas at all. They see the neighbor’s Christmas decorations out on the lawn and we have a Christmas tree in our home with a few presents under it, but overall, they are just too young to care much yet.

    This month, we are paying off our van (last debt – go Dave Ramsey!!!) and that is our gift to ourselves. We are giving each of our children one movie (thanks, Crystal for all the free movie plugs!), and giving relatives pictures of our kids (I’m a photographer).

    We have never done Christmas cards and I’m not sure that we ever will. It’s not something I’ve ever felt guilty about and it just sounds like so much work! Lol

    Lately, a lot of people have posed the question, “Are you all ready for Christmas?” It seems to come as a total shock when I tell them that we’re not doing much this year and explain that we are rewarding ourselves by paying off the van.

    I appreciate this post, knowing that we are not the only ones who don’t do grandeur things for Christmas. Thanks! 🙂

  • Marcia says:

    Thanks to Crystal we are doing things much simpler this year, and it feels GREAT! In fact the simpler things get, the more things I find I can do.

    I always thought Christmas Cards were kind of cheesy and a silly “extra” expense. This year I made cards. I took stationary and blank card stock we had (some not blank so we used the back) and had the boys make fingerprint lightbulbs with multi colored stamppads on the outside and typed a message inside.
    1)recycle/reused paper
    2)thoughtful because the boys made the outside
    3)quick because I printed the inside message via computer
    4) inexpensive becuase of steps 1 and 2

    Since really getting into the spirit of the season and why we celebrate it, it’s not silly to send someone that you might not get to keep in touch with all year long a message that you are thinking of them.

    send an email…but let those in your heart know that they are there.

    Martha Stewart is over-rated…be your own person with your own style and don’t let others dictate what Christmas should or shouldn’t be.

  • Andrea says:

    My husband and I cashed in some of our bank account points (not a credit card, we just get them for using our checking account) to get each other a small dollar amount gift card to Target. Our kids are getting a book each because it’s a Christmas tradition for them and that’s all (they’re 3 years old and 8 months old so they don’t really need anything anyways.) We bought a couple bath tub items for my 2 year old niece and that’s about it for gifts for people. Most of our family are all in the same spot of being frugal this Christmas.
    As for Christmas cards, that is a highlight for me and I love to send them out to people so it’s not a stressor in my case but actually a stress reliever at Christmas time…for me.
    Now Christmas

  • Tiffany says:

    I figure the $1.42 it cost me to send out Christmas cards is well worth it. My friends and family are worth that small amount to me. The only communication I have with college roommates and old neighbors is sometimes the Christmas cards we exchange every year. It is fun for my kids to help address them and to run to the mail box to see what pictures we got in the mail that day. I like to see how friends kids have grown and what changes have happened in their lives. I love spending all December looking at sweet families pictures on my fridge.
    A few years ago I thought I was too busy, or was trying to cut back and quit sending out cards for a couple Christmases, every year we got fewer and fewer. How sad it seemed that the only time of year when I get real mail I wasn’t getting any.
    I will never not send out cards again, I love to get them, it is a small expense and time cherished with my kids preparing and reading them that I will not give up. If they are a production then maybe question your motives and revaluate what exactly you are sending out and why.
    These Holiday traditions that I will continue to do (baking, cards etc.) are expressions of love that I will always do for my family. These are acts of service that for the most part don’t cost me much money. I believe that these are also talents that Christ would want me to use, and examples of service that my kids need to see.
    Merry Christmas!!

    P.S. Thank you to all who make Moneysaving Mom such a part of all our lives!

  • Davonne says:

    My husband and I have chosen to not buy gifts for siblings (when you add our siblings-in-law and step siblings, it totals sixteen people).

    We are only buying about 2 presents each for each other (all gifts are things we’ve really wanted/needed for awhile, so it’s nothing frivolous). We are buying a few, select items for our daughter, but nothing extravagant.

    We are buying for our parents, but just one gift each.

    I am baking 4 kinds of easy cookies, instead of the dozens I normally do. We are not sending cards out (I am feeling some guilt about this, so I’m thinking about sending out an e-mail to friends and family, with a recent family photo attached).

    We set up our tree inside, a small pre-lit tree on our porch, and a few other decorations here and there, but there are no villages around or anything else that we normally do.

    We’re staying home on Christmas Day (our one day of the year we have to ourselves), and cooking a simple, but delicious dinner.

    We’re skipping most of the holiday parties (we’re going to about three total, including our family gatherings, and skipping at least a dozen).

    All in all, I do feel strange to not be participating in the hustle, bustle, and commercialism of the season, but it’s a nice strange!

  • Great post! I feel so free when I decide to cut something out. This year we aren’t decorating the tree because we don’t have many ornaments and we do have a two-year-old. 🙂

  • Trixie says:

    Hello,

    We believe in keeping Christmas simple at our house. Firstly, I would say that while we give a few gifts, have a tree and put up a few decorations, our focus is on Jesus — not stuff.

    One of the best things we do to keep our lives peaceful during this season is to not run to and fro. We do not go to every festive event under the sun. It is just too stressful and we do not need that. We like to spread fun activities and family visits out through the whole year instead of cramming it into one month.

    Take Care,

    Trixie
    http://farmhomelife.blogspot.com/

    http://farmhomelife.blogspot.com/

  • Debi says:

    I’m laughing at your post, because about the only thing I’m doing this year is Christmas cards! LOL I LOVE doing Christmas cards each year and writing a Christmas letter, etc. It’s one of my favorite things! 🙂 Now, having said that — we are not putting up a Christmas tree this year and we have no decorations either indoor or outside! I know — a scrooge I am! 🙂 Actually, every other year, we’re not even home the week of Christmas, as we’re with family, and this happens to be the year we’ll be out of state all week, so we decided to keep it simple and not even decorate this year. 🙂 It’s been so nice! And, both sides of our families decided that we’re not doing gifts for extended family — everyone wants to keep it simple. So, we’re only doing gifts for our immediate family: dh, me and kiddos, and we’ll keep that simple. I am loving not being stressed out this year! All I have to do is Christmas cards and get a few gifts for dh and kiddos and enjoy the holiday! Having the extra time means I actually GET to bake some cookies for neighbors this year — something I’m usually too busy to do! 🙂

  • Honey says:

    Agree with Tiffany about thinking thru your motives for doing certain things. I find I am far too often motivated by what people will think, without stopping to consider what God thinks. A better motive to pursue is 1.to glorify God and 2. to serve people. When this is my motivation, there is much more joy in living! I love to do the Christmas cards (and I love to get them from others.) I have started including a line from a hymn or a scripture to make these more meaningful and Christ-centered. After this years baking difficulties, I decided to only do fudge next year and a cheese ball. (This is a much simplified version of what I just did). And I used freebies for gifts and tried to give simpler, more- practical gifts. And I made dolls for my daughters like the ones on blackplum (the lady was on Martha Stewart showing how to do them and providing a template). These dolls turned out so cute and only took about an hour or two to make!!!

  • Coby says:

    My husband and I have never exchanged Christmas gifts (or gifts for birthdays, valentines or anniversaries) in the 10 years that we have been together. Most of my friends find this extremely upsetting. This is how I explain it to them: It means more to me when he brings me home a card or small gift in july or whenever because I know he was truly thinking about me. He wasn’t just buying a gift because it’s expected of him because it’s a holiday. It also really relieves the stress of having to please your spouse with a gift. We both would rather spend time together and with family than worry about buying each other a present. This has simplified the holidays for us for a long time.

    As for our friends, I bake for them every year. I love to do this, it is inexpensive for us and I really enjoy the time in the kitchen and sharing the goodies I make with our friends. Since I am the only on that bakes among us, the goodies are always very appreciated. I have also been growing houseplants for all of our friends from cuttings of my own plants. I have been nurturing these for about nine months and will be giving them away this weekend.

    Amoung our family’s we have decided that this year we will only buy gifts for the kids. That really helps lower the gift budget. Most of the gifts we purchased were under $15.

  • Jan says:

    We pretty much do not do gifts at Christmas. I got 2 small gifts (toys) for my daughter in the summer when they were on clearance. We do not exchange gifts with extended family. DH and I are getting each other a DVD we wanted to watch. I still send out Christmas cards but I cut my list back. I like to send a picture of my daughter- we waited so long for her. We do very few decorations and don’t hype Christmas at all- other than talking about Jesus.

  • Honey says:

    One other thing-I’ve done a new year’s card instead of Christmas. This way you can take your time and enjoy the season. My friend has done a Valentine’s day card with picture or newsletter instead of at Christmas-time. It’s a pleasant surprise that you are thinking of the person and love them.

  • Julie says:

    I wrote a post similar to this last week on my blog. We are simplifying Christmas (and life in general) and it makes life so much more enjoyable.

  • Elizabeth says:

    The best way we’ve come up with to simplify our Christmas is to stay home. Our extended families all live very close by and we see them on a weekly sometimes daily basis. Once we had children, we would spend our entire Christmas Eve and Christmas Day bundling everyone up and shuffling them from house to house to visit people-and feeling guilty if we didn’t make it to everyone’s place. We finally explained that while we would love to visit on Christmas, it was just too hectic for our family and our children would just end up overly tired, stuffed full of goodies from every house/dinner we went to and that added up to a stressful and un-enjoyable Christmas.
    Our families were very understanding and supportive of our decision to keep things simple at home. I do have cookies and hot chocolate ready if anyone decides to drop in to visit. It’s been so nice to have a quiet, relaxed Christmas at home.

  • Bree says:

    Everyone gasp…but we aren’t putting up the tree this year! LOL. Everyone that finds this out acts like it’s the end of the world. But I’m eight months pregnant and will be ready to pop by the time it’s time to take the tree down…and to be honest, I just don’t want to mess with it! 🙂 So, no decorating for us this year. We also opted out of Christmas cards. I like to send really nice cards, and it seems the ones that share the true meaning of Christmas are always more expensive…not to mention the stamps….oh and my time! LOL. So no Christmas cards this year from us either. And yes, I had the whole guilt thing…like oh I hope nobody is upset! But I quickly got over that! LOL. Gifts are always the MOST stressful thing to do with Christmas. This year I am not worrying about how much anyone is spending on my family or myself…that is their choice. But I am not spending much on them at all! LOL. I have a 10 dollar budget for each person with a simple gift (half the gifts I got weren’t even 10 dollars!). This makes it easy, fair and less stress. And, we are not buying each other gifts or our daughter. She will be getting enough from other people! Maybe if we were rolling in the dough I would look at it differently, but with a one income young family in this economy…I’ve got to use my money wisely! 🙂

  • Danika says:

    Beautiful post! That is exactly what has been on my mind this week. Thank you for putting it so eloquently!

  • TrentTribe says:

    I have a different perspective on Christmas Cards. To me they are one way, I keep Christmas simple. I put a little effort into the cards. And not much effort into the gifts. It still has the “feel” of giving gifts without the cost.

    The $5 gifts for all the Christmas exchanges – those complicate Christmas for me. That is the one thing, I’m begging to opt out of. With a family of six – that’s $30 in one wallop. Have y’all experienced this? Everywhere you go, they want you to bring a generic gift that costs $5? Can I tell y’all a secret? I missed a Christmas Party on purpose because I just didn’t want to do the $5 gift exchange for my family of six. Another secret? I’m not doing them at any parties this year. I’ll take a modest gift for my kids to have, so they don’t feel left out (I’m talking $4 here) and keep the other $26. I’m not a scrooge. Surely? Am I?

  • SarahMay says:

    Love this post!! I have resisted getting more elaborate with this year’s Christmas preparations, and am enjoying the lower stress level. We have three children under three, which is good reason to keep things simple! Here is what we did (or didn’t do):

    -Put up one small tree (for Jesse Tree activities), nativity set, and a wreath on the door. That’s it for decorations!
    -Made homemade frozen cookie dough as gifts for friends and family. Frugal, personal, and easy to do.
    -Made the same food/recipes for every church/family Christmas gathering.
    -Limited gifts to three per child (as I’ve heard some people do in imitation of the three gifts from the wise men).
    -Didn’t exchange gifts with my husband; instead, we bought a new camera to capture this quickly-fleeting time with young children!
    -I have not sent Christmas cards since I got married and don’t intend to start! ; )

  • Every year on Christmas Eve we attend church and then come home and have a Birthday party for Jesus. My four year old son really enjoys this tradition. We do not exchange any gifts on Christmas Eve. The entire day is about Jesus. We open gifts on Christmas morning and then spend the entire day together as a family. This year we are cutting back on gifts and I did not send Christmas cards. I am so glad that others are doing the same, it makes me feel less guilty!

  • Suzanne says:

    So glad to hear that I am not the only one!! I just blogged about how DH and I don’t exchange gifts with each other or give to DD. We also don’t put up a tree. That may change in the future, but it’s working for us right now. I did actually send cards, but I don’t every year (I didn’t last year.) I am so glad that there are others out there who agree with us!

  • Heidi @ GGIP says:

    I love sending Christmas cards. It is personal and fun! I also love the “lost art” of snail mail! A simple card or letter can bring so much joy. It doesn’t cost much either, not nearly as much as many of the things I consider to be extras AND it allows me to keep up with long distance friends and relatives. I also display all the cards I get which could be viewed as a frugal decoration.

  • Jamie lea says:

    I thought the meaning behind this post was a great one. It seems like we as women always feel the need to explain ourselves, here we are on a blog “explaining” and making excuses for what we do….. “I love this” or “I only bought a couple things”….. There’s guilt in that, just do what you enjoy and make no excuses for it, don’t do what you don’t enjoy and again, make no excuses.

    Just my thoughts.

  • elizabeth says:

    While I wholeheartedly agree with not getting too caught up in the commercialism and “buying” of the season, I think we should remember to take the time to not simplify too much. Putting up lights and similar displays may bring joy to your neighbors who are unable to do their own; a plate of cookies no matter how simple may lift the spirits of a coworker who has a hard time dealing with the holidays. And I know many people who enjoy getting cards. Remember that story in the bible where the lady washed Jesus’ feet with oil, and she was criticized for wasting such an expensive item? And then Jesus defended her? If we are truly commemorating the birth of Christ , then I think we should try to make it a little nicer than an ordinary day. JMO.

    We can still send cards, bake or make special items, give gifts, and decorate without being over the top. Send a few cards, make a few simple treats, give frugal gifts, decorate simply. Let us not forget to bring the joy of Christ to others in our attempt to be frugal and simplify.

  • Tonya says:

    I agree with the sentiment of this post. For years I’ve wanted to give up sending cards, but felt that it was the last connection I shared with a few people. I’ve finally decided that if we cannot make the effort to have contact at any other time, then I must be willing to let it go. People drift in and out of our lives in various seasons of life and that is okay. I feel free!

  • Katie H. says:

    Heidi @ GGIP – I loved your comment. You rock my face off right now! THANK YOU!

  • Michele says:

    We keep it real simple since we don’t celebrate Christmas! We’re Jewish so we do Hanukkah, which is actually a minor celebration in the religion. When I was younger I felt bad missing out on the Christmas festivities, but now that I’m a mom, I’m glad I don’t have the extra work of setting up a tree, putting out lights, etc. We do send out holiday cards and we have a few Hanukkah decorations, but for the most part, we keep it simple, too. We do give gifts for 8 nights! On the first night, our children each get one big gift from us. And on subsequent nights, they each get small gifts – a book, a dress for their doll or a truck. Many of the gifts actually comes from yardsales so we don’t actually spend a lot.

    It’s a shame that our religious holidays have become so commercialized. But I think with the economy what it is, many people are making it simpler this year. And with that, maybe people will celebrate what their holiday is really about rather than the presents!

  • Alana says:

    Thanks for this post. It really made my day.

    The stress of the holidays can be so overwhelming sometimes. We all need to just step back and celebrate the REAL meaning of Christmas and stop worrying so much about commercial items.

    The last couple of years we have been trying hard to make our Christmas simple and more thrifty. Ive been trying hard to do more handmade gifts (even though that makes things more hectic for me) it means so much more. Ive done everything from crayon rolls, pillowcases, throw pillows, lap quilts, you name it. Everyone seems to enjoy recieving them as well.

    My Mom makes Jams/Jellies and homemade candy to give out as gifts instead of going out and buying a present for someone that doesnt take a second. Sure it may cost more, but to me the handmade items she gives has so much more meaning than any other gift I could recieve.

    Alana Jo @
    http://justniftythrifty.blogspot.com/

  • kim says:

    what a great post!! i sent christmas cards to my mom and stepdad , dad and stepmom , and dh dad and stepmom.
    needless to say, we have an extended family and its way to expensive to buyt gifts. cards (at 10/$1.00) . is a cheap way to acknoiwledge we are thinking of them.
    but thats it- no cards to cousins, uncles, etc, etc.

  • Lilbet says:

    We’ve made almost all of our gifts this year. I’ve detailed several on my blog and am featuring one per day for the next week or so. If you need quick, last-minute, super easy gifts, check it out!

    I get frustrated with all the stuff seekers. The other day I saw an automatic donut maker. While I’ve enjoyed a few good donuts in my lifetime, I can hardly imagine why one would need such a gadget. And why you would spend $150 on it.

  • You know what, I LOVE sending Christmas cards. Love picking them out, signing them, mailing them, taking the family photo, the whole deal. That’s why I do it. If someone does not get joy from it, they shouldn’t do it! I certainly don’t judge people who don’t.

    A friend of mine sends Valentine’s cards instead, after things have calmed down. It’s kind of nice to receive an unexpected Valentine card!

  • Andrea says:

    Aaron and I were talking about this the other night – I was telling him what I’d like for a Christmas present, and he grimaced at the thought of going to the mall near us. There was a horrible accident a few weeks ago – a woman ran over a grandmother, her 3 year old grand daughter, and the 2 month old baby that she had with her. All because she was in a hurry and her pedal got stuck. It caused a rebound accident, and it just shocked the community… so sad.

    We try and do as much online shopping as possible – Amazon.com has great prices, great shipping, and a wonderful selection if we need something and wat to avoid the mall and stores.

    This year, we’re doing a lot of donations to charitable organizations in lieu of gifts – there are so many people (and animals!) who are hurting and in need. My FIL and StepMIL weren’t crazy at first about my suggestion that we donate to charities that we know each other likes, but I finally had to say, “You’d rather waste your money on something I possibly won’t need/want/ or use instead? Why would you do that? Why be selfish? This season isn’t about GIFTS – it is about Christ and what he did for us. Why don’t we do the same for some of His?”

    So donations it is, at least for the adults. I know Liam’s getting a present, but that’s it. We’re so blessed, he doesn’t need much. And I’ve made it perfectly clear that from now on, if we get a present we didn’t ask for and don’t need, we are DONATING it as soon as we are able.

    Beyond that, we’re just going to enjoy family, not do anything massively fussy, and just relish the season. Aaron and I sit and have a glass of wine in front of our Christmas tree every night, enjoy the lights, and just talk. Who needs a date night when you can sit with your hubby and just BE? 🙂

  • jessica says:

    Since I work full time and am a mom of a 2 year old, I don’t have time to even think about a lot of stuff! My husband isn’t into the Christmas Machine that the month of December has become. I do send cards because I make the cards myself and enjoy it. I also like to send a photo of my daughter in it, and most of my cards go to people who don’t use email. We put up a tree and decorate it, but that’s all. That’s enough!

  • Angela says:

    Hey,
    We are keeping it simple this year too. Last year we decided that we would not exchange gifts with our family until new years. That way our children would not get so caught up in their presents and forget about Christ. We also opted to not put up a tree this year , we want the focus to be totally on Christ not on a tree in our living room. Because of the stand we are taking , one of our friends bought us a small potted tree ,I kind of like this consept, we may continue to do this. I know that your focus can be on Christ with all the frills but it can be even more fun to not have as much and just focus on the important things. Like what Christmas really is about, we don’t want to confuse our children into thinking that Christmas is about lawn decorations, or santa clause , or reindeer, or snowmen, or ourselves and what we want, but on Christ, and loving ,and giving, for us , and others,. thank you

  • Kacy says:

    Christmas cards are a fun tradition for our family. I love how it keeps us in touch with distant family & friends and I truly like receiving cards from others. It puts such a warmth in the season to reach into the mailbox and get so much personal mail, amongst the bills, of course 🙂 So for this year, we won’t be skipping the cards.

    One thing we will skip, though, is buying expensive gifts. Not that we’ve bought a lot in the past, but we’ve trimmed our budgets for friends & family and snagged as many free or almost free items as we can to use as gifts (thanks for all your help in this area, Crystal!). I’ve found that it encourages us to be more creative with our gifts, which is lovely side benefit.

  • Julie says:

    My husband is a pastor, and we have lived in four different states in our 16 years of marriage. Therefore, we have many long-distance friends. I don’t usually send Christmas cards to the people we see everyday, but I do like to send a newsletter to family and friends that live across the corners of the globe who don’t have the opportunity to know what’s going on in our lives. For avid email readers, I save the newsletter as a PDF and send it that way, which saves on stamps. But I do print a few and mail them. Makes me feel connected with far away friends and it also causes me to sit and reflect on how good God has been to our family this year.

  • malissa says:

    I just stumbled across your blog today and I must say…I have been encouraged! My husband and I decided two years ago that what the world was calling Christmas (xmas,happy holidays…) was so not what it should be. We also wanted our sevn children to appreciate the true miracle of Christmas and not just excitemant over many gifts. So with much prayer and discussion, we rearranged our priorities for Christmas. We do not send cards, put up a tree, buy extended family gifts, wait in long lines to spend more money…. We do however, put our focus back on Christ birth. This year the children are putting on a Christmas play just for the family. I really want them to understand the biblical account of Christ’s birthday. Thank you for this blog. Malissa

  • Kate says:

    Great post!
    I haven’t done Christmas Cards in years. It was too much work, plus I never have enough stamps on hand either. Then it requires another trip to somewhere during Christmas-IF I remember. I don’t feel guilty in the least. Most people I want to talk to or contact, I do the internet, or in person.

    We don’t go too crazy anymore either. Finally frugal and simple are in!!! LOL
    I have a few gifts for each of the kids, but nothing elaborate.
    I have enough “stuff”, so this year, I only asked for what I truly need-like a pair of really nice slippers, and my dad came over and installed a new faucet and sink that were both badly needed. The install and sink were my gift. (I picked up the faucet months before when it was cheap cheap cheap!) I am tinkled pink over it, and consider it one of the best gifts I have ever received. I held the wrench/tool/plumber’s putty etc. while he installed, and we had a great time together.

    NOT breaking the budget or stressing myself out shopping is my gift to myself.
    I think the commercialization of Christmas is just disgusting; I know most people have forgotten that Jesus is the Reason for this Season!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

  • Brittany says:

    I was raised in a home where Christmas was ME, ME, ME & MORE, MORE, MORE! Sure, we read the account in Luke, we gave to others, we “adopted” families from the angel tree… I have fond memories of those years as a child & remember them as a time when my family actually got along for almost an entire day 🙂
    When I married, my husband “celebrated” differently. His family does not put up a tree, exchange gifts, send cards… they see it as a day to celebrate CHRISTS birthday & when their birthdays come along, they will be showered in gifts & celebrated & when a friends birthday comes along, THEY will be showered in gifts & celebrated! His family sees it as a time to minister to the needy in Christs name, tell others about the ‘reason for the season’, volunteer at shelters, & give to the church. They enjoy a feast for dinner & invite friends with no family, make a Jesus birthday cake, read the account in Luke… The first couple years we were married, it was VERY hard for me to swallow the fact that in submitting to my husband, I would have to let go of my traditions at Christmas. No more hustle & bustle, frantically wrapping gifts, charging tons of gift to a credit card, spending hours signing my name to a christmas card I probably didnt even read, licking & stamping envelopes… and believe me – I may have said that a tad sarcastically, but I did enjoy it.
    BUT, now that its been several years for me not celebrating through my past traditions, Gods greatly blessed me with an entirely new perspective! I’m the outsider looking in. Sometime, people should just go and sit at the mall or if you dont have time for that, just pay attention when your standing in the check out line- open your eyes, listen carefully, and take mental notes. Rest assured, YOU WILL BE AMAZED and unfortunately, disappointed.
    Now, do I believe everyone is wrong for giving gifts & celebrating – certainly not. But, its apparent that our nations focus is not on Christ & we should be ashamed that we have used HIS name in a holiday that has become self serving & greedy.
    And – heres a little tip too… for those wanting to “minimize” – one of my friends allows her children to pick out 3 gifts which represent the gold, frankincense, & mere. One gift has to be a “need”, one can be a “want”, and one has to be something spiritual – like a new Bible, devotional book, christian CD… I think thats very clever & keeps the kids from making lists a mile long of everything they could possibly want & then being disappointed when they dont get it all 🙂 Thank you for your lovely blog! Always encouraged!

  • Rachele says:

    * Will friends still like me?
    If I am any judge of character, yes.

    * Will they think that I am unorganized?
    If they are any judge of character, yes.

    * What if they send me a card, but I don’t send one to them?
    Then my friends will be reminded how much more thoughtful, organized and generally wonderful they are than me. Isn’t it great to help others feel better about themselves?

  • Elizabeth says:

    Well, we have moved around a bit. If one lives in the same town their whole life and only has local friends…by all means, forego the cards. But for those of us who relocate every so often, we would loose track of others and could even end up in the next block, unknowingly, if we do not send out a yearly letter. Mine is fairly short, just on one page and with graphics at that. And if someone wants to know more…then they can write me. Or email. But I have determined to weed out more of my list this next year. I always give old people the benefit of the doubt…cause they may just not be able to get out to take care of things. But would still enjoy hearing from us. But I was almost killed this year and made a short mention of it in my letter…saying to ask for more info if wanted and I would send it. So, if folks do not at least let me know it was a concern to them, they are off my list next year. Yep, and some of those will be relatives, count on it!! Communication is a 2 way street as are relationships. Life is so short, I feel I need to concentrate more on those who want and need me. I should not bother the others!!

  • Shannon says:

    While I agree with no spending a fortune on Christmas, the kids LOVE making cookies and homemade fudge, and gingerbread houses. The same with lighting up the front of the house. We have sent out a photo Christmas card since the first year we were married to all of our friends, relatives and people we do business with. I send out 70 cards for about 25 dollars. Well worth taking the time to let them know appreciate their business throughout the year. I have actually had people ask me what the pic was going to be the next year, as they look forward to it, and post it in their store all year long. I love looking back through the cards from all 13 years and watching the kids grow.

    My boys, all combined, had 9 teachers this year. We made homemade fudge for them. It took about five minutes and cost three dollars. It was a huge success!

  • Babychaser says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but we are doing an “opting out” sort of thing. Sure, we are still going to do presents on Christmas day (though my husband and I are not buying anything for the kids (2 and 9 months) this year. They have plenty from grandparents. We are still worshiping Him in church services.

    It’s not that we are boycotting… but we aren’t doing cards, aren’t doing gifts (other than for each other and one or two that aren’t costing us anything. I didn’t decorate… my tiny over crowded and cluttered home would just be more cluttered and it would not encourage us to love Christmas more.

    We may make cookies next week, but more so my mom can do it with my toddler… then we can send some to the guys my husband works with. We’re just doing a very laid back Christmas season. Perhaps as the kids get older (and notice things), I’ll be more deliberate, but hopefully still simple!

  • Sherri says:

    I agree with TrentTribe about the “inexpensive” gift exchanges- it all adds up! My kids are doing an exchange in the youth group at church- a “small gift” up to $10 each. Ouch! And the way it was organized no one got a chance to opt out. I’ll chalk that up to the inexperience/idealism of the leader, and hope we as parents can offer guidance next time around.

    We generally buy our kids 2 gifts each year, and one for each other. We get enough stuff from other family members, and we don’t feel a great need for “stuff” anyway. I did manage to convince my family to draw names instead of buying for everyone- but I felt like I was dragging them along. You’d think with 2 of the families having financial issues that they would have jumped at the opportunity. Guess that’s why they are in debt and we aren’t.

  • Melissa says:

    Love the post!! I have been saying for a couple years that I would like to get back to simple Christmas and for several years I have sent e-greetings for Christmas and included a picture of my children, for those who have email. Otherwise, those I see, I just give a photo of the kids.

  • Teresa says:

    This year I trimmed down my Xmas card list to just those friends and family out of state and some older relatives that I know really enjoy receiving a card. We also have a 1 1/2 year old in the house, so we pulled out an older, smaller artificial tree that I had in college and I decorated it with the silverplate bells my mom has been giving me for the last 35 years. I added the ornament collection she has started with my husband and now child…I now have a huge box of leftover ornaments that will go to the thrift store! The tree looks great as it is! There is a wreath on the door, one above the fireplace and stockings hung, and a few decorative items scattered through the house.

    We also decided not to exchange gifts this year. Our son will get a book and a set of wooden blocks from us. We have requested clothes from those relative who would like to send gifts (only grandson on both sides). For the first time in years, Xmas feels what it is really about – rather than the commercial hype.

  • jenny m says:

    I love sending Christmas cards- its so easy to lose touch with friends/family who live far away especially with the swing up in gas prices! We were just blessed with a new daughter through adoption and love showing her picture off!! We have a small 4 ft artificial tree- just plug it in=). I dont want to go bigger- more ornaments to take off when you put it down again. DH and I dont exchange gifts and the kids gifts were purchased from rummage sales- you dont feel bad if they dont like it and you paid a dollar for it! My daughter is getting a litte people set and a littel people van and a little tikes shopping cart that I paid 6 dollars for. If only DH’s birthday wasnt in December;)

  • carla sorensen says:

    I have really tried to simplify things this year. I don’t have many decorations up in the house. I don’t think there is a thing wrong with decorating, but for me it seems more like clutter. I do have a tree, a manger scene, and some candles and stockings. We also have a birthday on the 17th, 25th and 27th, an anniversary on the 29th and this year a baby shower on the 26th. So much to think about and plan for, it has to be simple!

  • Emily Wylie says:

    I’ve actually done a series on our Christmas and it includes a post on simple Christmas decorations, check it out here: http://everydaywylie.blogspot.com/2008/12/1-goose-is-getting-fat-simple.html I’m so glad you’re running a series on this!

  • Megan Tietz says:

    Okay, so it’s not about the Christmas cards. In Rachel’s post on her blog about Making Christmas Traditions, she highlights that it is about focusing on what is important to your family and making it a priority. It’s about letting go of things that cause stress and clinging to what makes the season meaningful. If Christmas cards are your thing – then go for it and have a ball. But, if you are like me, and the whole things is a costly stressor, then let it go.

    Rachel, thanks for sharing this. I continue to be inspired and encouraged by just showing up this year. If there was ever a year I needed the mentoring in this area, it’s this year!

  • Marci says:

    If your looking for a way to make Christmas cards affordable just do them e-mail style! We do it every year at no cost and its very easy:)

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