It was the toilet seat cover that did it.
I was browsing through a local catalog when I saw – “New stick-on, smiling, Santa toilet seat covers. Bring the happiness and joy of Christmas to your bathroom.”
And that’s when I thought…we’ve taken Christmas too far (Yes, mom. I’m talking to you. No more holiday themed toilet seat covers, okay?).
It’s the most
expensive wonderful time of the year
I may be crazy but I don’t think we need toilet seat covers to bring happiness and joy to our homes. And I’m pretty sure we can have a holly jolly Christmas without any of the advertised items in that catalog. In fact, we are likely to have an even merrier and certainly a more meaningful holiday without them.
So here’s how our family plans to have a simple Christmas – saving our sanity and our budget.
I was inspired to write this post not only by the toilet seat covers but by my friend, Sam Mccluskey, who has four children under the age of seven. On top of being an amazing stay-at-home-mom, she is able to create the kind of magical, meaningful and simple Christmas we all want for our families – without losing her beautiful, dimply smile or even whipping out the credit card.
Hard to believe, I know, but when you see this woman and how relaxed she is, you just know she has a plan for everything. And her holiday plan…it’s a good one so you’re going to want to check this out. I’ve also added a few of my own money saving tips and traditions that we follow here on the homestead.
Deck the halls? Maybe just the living the room.
Christmas is all about making special memories with our families and if you’re a believer, celebrating the birth of Jesus. This does not mean you have to go broke decorating every room in your home or even stringing a single set of lights.
Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t string lights or whatever it is you normally do to decorate your home. It just means you should choose to do what makes you happy, not what you “feel you have to do”.
I’m a big fan of the minimalist trend – to live simply with less “stuff”. Now some people really do enjoy a little Christmas cheer while they use the loo, but in our family we stick to the living room.
We put up a traditional Christmas tree, hang our stockings by the imaginary fire and adorn our door with a wreath. I also proudly display a Christmas calendar that my Danish grandmother hand felted for her children, a long-held tradition in Denmark.
The end. That’s it. No twinkling lights outside. No life-like Santas. It’s beautiful, meaningful, simple, quick and inexpensive. Everyone in our family is happy.
Minimizing decorations will instantly simplify your Christmas.
But you don’t even have to do this much.
Celebrate like a minimalist
Many minimalists don’t want to invest in Christmas-only decor. No problem.
This year we’re decorating a potted tree we can keep indoors all year round (Bonus – Plants improve the air in your home.).
You can also try swapping out a picture in a frame you already have displayed or changing the ribbons on a decorative wreath. This is like a buy one, get one free special. Not only do you save money, but you also save yourself the hassle of having to store yet another holiday trinket.
Don’t rush the holiday cheer
If we start busting out the holiday tunes and decor too early in the season, it’s easy to get sick of it all before the celebration even starts. We wait until after the Christmas parade, which was held this year on November 25, but Sam and her family wait until Christmas Eve to get their party started.
After baking treats for Santa and his reindeer, they put up and decorate their tree. This is a big hit with the youngest siblings and makes a big sparkling impact on Christmas morning.
Leave your children with happy memories, not expensive gifts
My kids are hard pressed to remember what they received for Christmas last year. But they will tell you in vivid detail how we enjoyed hot chocolate while watching the Santa Claus parade, how we built gingerbread houses (and sadly how they were not allowed to eat them) and how we decorated the tree with strung popcorn and homemade gingerbread cookies.
Instead of giving gifts, my sister-in-law plans a get together with her niece and nephew that is much anticipated in our household. They often bake cookies and then proudly serve them after Christmas dinner.
My friend Sam and her family take time every year to make homemade decorations and cards. “This not only keeps costs down, but it’s time spent together doing something we love.”
I bet these are the kinds of activities that will bring happiness to your household and create those warm, fond Christmas memories, not the gifts or other expensive holiday trappings. Figure out what will work for your family and plan to make your season warm and bright.
Gifts that won’t break the bank
Just like the decorations, keep gift giving simple. Think about asking those you normally swap presents with to forgo them this year or cut back to one gift per loved one. You might be surprised by the looks of relief.
Unfortunately, many people feel obligated to spend money they don’t have on gifts the receiver may or may not want. We don’t have to do this. We have a choice. Why not get together with friends and family for food or a drink. No gifts needed.
I’ll be honest. We used to buy quite a few gifts for the kids at Christmas, but this year we have decided to cut back and focus on spending time together instead. I really like Sam’s gift giving tradition:
Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read
You could also add…
Something to make
Something to eat
This is going to be tough for us as we (and the kids) are used to the “giant mountain of gifts” under the tree. But they don’t appreciate them all. I think this new tradition will make each gift that much more special.
Handmade is Heartfelt
If you decide to give gifts, you don’t have to buy them (although there is nothing wrong with this). If you have the time, you can make something instead. Sure, homemade gifts can save you money, but I’d argue it’s about more than that. They have heart and soul. They are unique and thoughtful. I know what some of you are thinking. “I’m not crafty.” Wrong! Everyone has a skill they can use to make a heartfelt, homemade gift.
Sam makes jams, jellies and other preserves throughout the summer and fall with goodies from her own garden and local u-picks. Come the holiday season she puts together gift baskets and boxes combining her preserves with homemade baked goods.
My mom knits the most amazing socks and I cherish every pair. This is a HINT mom.
My aunt handmade a quilt for our wedding gift, a graphic artist I worked with drew a picture as a gift for my baby shower, Sam made these hanging letters for my kids’ birthdays.
This year I’m gifting my homemade lip balm.
Need more ideas? Check out this great round up of homemade gifts you can make for everyone on your Christmas list from the blog “Salt in My Coffee”. Most of these projects are not only inexpensive but so simple they can be made in less than an hour.
Bag it up
I admit I’m lazy. I hate wrapping. This year I’m switching to reusable, cloth gift bags. I don’t have to wrap anything, I save money over the long run and I’m not throwing any paper, ribbons or bows in the landfill.
If everyone in Canada wrapped just three presents in reused paper or cloth gift bags, we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks, according to the Fundy Regional Service Commission.
Open your heart, not your wallet
The true spirit of Christmas, of course, is not gifts and decorations. It’s about doing something kind for others. The kids and I are going to count down the days of Christmas with this Kindness Advent Calendar from the blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba. From smiling at others to leaving a happy note in a library book there are tonnes of ideas for families on how to spread love and kindness this holiday season.
Let’s face it… Being stressed and spending too much money is not what the holidays are about. Let’s take the commercialism out of Christmas. Ditch the holiday catalogs and focus on making special memories with our friends and family.
Merry Simple Christmas, my friends!