Christmas this year is going to be hard. And when I said hard, I mean we don’t have a lot of money to throw around. Not that we’ve ever really had the money (teachers/pastors don’t really make bank…), but this year we are having to really cinch in the belt. But that’s okay. It’s forcing me to be creative and prioritize what I think is important to really be able to celebrate Christmas and make memories with my family.

Things that I realized make little difference to our Christmas memories:

  1. CHRISTMAS CARDS. Sure I love getting them, but getting our kids to take a nice picture, paying to either print the picture and then stuff it in a card or pay to print it on a card, not to mention postage and whittling down the mailing list so I don’t go broke simply buying stamps.
  2. DECORATIONS. We have a tree (that we’re borrowing from our church) and I did go to the Dollar Tree for a few exterior decorations but spent no more than $30 in total for decorations that will hopefully be re-used next year. We’re not even home for part of the month to enjoy them! Besides with a 3-year-old and almost 18 month old, decorative things don’t last very long around here. The tree will have to fend for itself.

    I was pretty happy with the simple decorations I was able to find at the Dollar Tree
    I was pretty happy with the simple decorations I was able to find at the Dollar Tree
  3. ACTIVITIES. I love all the Christmas activities in our area but a lot of them cost money and tend to be more of a hassle than a memory-maker for us at this age. We have found a few free activities that we will be attending including our church’s Living DRIVE-THRU Nativity (<–CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT!). But really the things we do with our kids during this season is more meaningful and memorable than the things we give.
  4. GIFTS. We’ve actually never given our kids more than 1 Christmas present. We have large families on both sides and they love pretty well on our kids. So it’s neither necessary nor practical for us to give a bunch of gifts. We have a small home and if we went gift crazy and the family went gift crazy…well my husband would lose the garage. So the boys get 1 gift from us and maybe a few things in their stockings. I love this because it presents a challenge for me to pick the ONE thing we will get them this year. On the flip-side, we give small things to the rest of our family. We have to drive 700 miles to see them every year and with 2 young kids that ain’t no joke! So they enjoy us being with them more than the things we bring for them.
Unfortunately this is not the norm for our long car rides to see fam.
Unfortunately this is not the norm for our long car rides to see fam.

Things we ARE doing this year.

  1. REASON FOR THE SEASON.  We are reading through Ann Voskamp’s “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” as a family. This is an advent book that includes discussion questions and simple activities to do as a family. It really helps focus on the meaning of Christmas and how the Christmas story really started at creation and doesn’t end after Christmas day. We’re discovering that it may be a little long of a read for the younger crowd, but you can summarize it and still do the activities. Plus the pictures are gorgeous.
  2. FOCUS ON GIVING. Making cookies for our neighbors. We live in an older neighborhood and some of our neighbors have been having some rough times health-wise. We love our neighbors so it’s a simple way to show our love and appreciation for them. We also have a sponsor child, Sebabatso,  through World Vision that we send a special gift too each Christmas. Benji will also be working on getting his room cleaned out to make room for the new by choosing some toys/games to donate to other children that don’t have them.

    We started sponsoring Moli back in 2008, right before we got married. It's been great to see her grow!
    We started sponsoring Sebabatso back in 2008, right before we got married. It’s been great to see her grow!
  3. FAMILY TRADITIONS. We all have them. Growing up ours included Orange Danish Rolls on Christmas morning, making home-made yeast rolls for Christmas dinner. A Christmas Eve family gathering at Grandma’s and driving around the neighborhoods to ooh and ahhh at the lights and a candle-light Christmas Eve service. Now that we live so far away and have kids of our own we’re figuring out what WE want our traditions to be. You can bet they will include orange rolls!
Making Rolls
Rolling out the traditional yeast rolls to bake for Thanksgiving and Christmas

It’s okay to have a “little” Christmas because when you down-size the unnecessary, God can move in a big way! When you don’t have much to give, you can focus on how much you’ve been given.

What about you? Will you take up the challenge to have a “little” Christmas?