5 Easy and Cheap Ways To Make the Most of Christmas

photo credit: cityandbaby.com
photo credit: cityandbaby.com

It is our baby’s first Christmas, and my husband and I are excited to make the most of it with him. In the past, I haven’t always been a “Yay! Christmas!” kind of person. In fact, I have usually belonged to the camp that gets a little down during the holidays, and is excited for January 2nd so it can all be over. But being able to create and experience Christmas through a child’s eyes is an entirely new, and special thing. And I am excited.

Of course, with the excitement and possibility of Christmas for my son, comes a little bit of pressure – as most undertakings of parenthood do.  I have already received about twenty toy catalogs in the mail, and my email inbox is full of “Sale!” “Cyber Monday!” “Lowest Prices of the Year!” messages from child friendly companies.  It’s hard not to go overboard giving to your kids with sales pitches constantly in your face.

Beyond the material pressures of Christmas, the same kind of mom competition applies to the holiday season as does the rest of the year. The “Pinterest crowd” that manages to make healthy and cheap cooking, entertain, and make beautiful things out of pantyhose and paper clips tends to rear its head twice over during Christmas. You may have friends that are baking bunches of speciality cookies, making homemade presents that smell like heaven, or doing a creative stunt with their Elf on the Shelf each night. It’s hard to keep up! And it’s easy to feel like a mom failure.

I’m trying to remember that more than anything, my son needs me and my time!. During Christmas, and every day. I’ve been brainstorming ways to make my son’s Christmas special without spending a lot of time or money – or needing to have the craftiness of Martha Stewart. I want to share a few of these with you.

kellymattD at tree lot(1)   Stop and Smell the Spruce Trees: Most families will be picking out a Christmas tree – but it can be a lot of fun to go to a local lot – or your local Walmart, if you like – and just stop and smell the different kinds of trees. You don’t need to BUY that $60 holly and pine centerpiece to appreciate it, either.

(2)   Write a letter to Santa: I have heard it rumored that there are good and merry souls out there who will reply to kids who write to Santa, with a North Pole postmark. But if you don’t have the time to send your little tots’ wish list all the way to Anchorage, Alaska – then you and some other parents can get together and write letters to each other’s kids. Kids won’t recognize the handwriting, and voila! A special Santa moment is made.

(3)   Make your own Christmas cards: I have found that the pressure of sending Christmas cards gets to a lot of people. Maybe this year, instead of rushing to get your glossy photos printed out for 100 of your closest friends, if you’re just not up for it – have the kids sit down with some construction paper (folded to fit into standard envelope) and crayons, and sketch out cards for close friends and family. I bet my bottom dollar that those handmade cards will brighten your family’s doorstep in a very special way.

(4)   Help a Family In Need: Make a simple list of staple Christmas dinner items, maybe one item for each family member, and head out to the store so each family member can pick it out. I don’t mean anything fancy, perhaps just some canned vegetables and box of stuffing if money is tight in your house. Then choose a charity for you and the kids to drop off the food – there is plenty of need in every community this time of year. This activity is a great cleanser for when the consumerism of the holiday gets to you.

You can also team up with other families, if you are so inclined, to provide a whole dinner. A mom in my mom’s group had this idea, and for just $5 per mom, we’ll be providing Christmas dinner to a military family in need. Definitely a great feeling.

(5)   Check out a church service: Many churches I know of have some kind of musical service during the Christmas season. Think outside the box and consider going to a house of worship other than the one you attend – maybe a different denomination or religion than the one you belong to. Most of these are free and I think it can provide a heartwarming perspective to hear the story of Christmas (or Hanukkah, etc) told through a different faith.

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