Are you excited for Christmas? she asked.
No. I nothing it. The words tumbled out before I knew I felt them.
Been there before? Not sure how you felt until someone asked you and suddenly, whelp, there it is.
I’m dreading Christmas, actually.
We’re on a slim budget.
I want to throw big dinner parties and the reality of opening our doors only to offer a small table is, well, humbling.
I mean, where do we even put a tree?
She smiled across chips and salsa and shared her story about living on a budget with five kids in their Chicago flat. About how everyone in Chicago- rich or poor- lived in 1200 square feet and crammed in nice and tight. She spoke about getting creative with finances, their space, about decorating on a dime, and how those were some of the best years. “I think compared to the years we had more money and bigger gifts, our kids were just as happy – maybe even more – when Christmas was simple,” she said.
Her words breathed hope where I realized dread was suffocating.
Here’s what I did. Bekah (yes, my name twin) shared these simple, creative Christmas-on-a-dime ideas and as she spoke, I felt life come into my bones. Then expectancy. Eagerness to embrace joy however this season looks.
Bekah Boyd’s Christmas Ideas for Budget-Minded Souls:
- Find large sweaters from a second-hand store and make stockings out of the sleeves.
- Buy assorted small box cereal packages and stuff those sweater stockings with your child’s favorite kind. Breakfast is served for the day after Christmas and they’ll love eating from the portable bowl.
- Have a heart for hospitality but are leery of your small space? Invite invite invite. Invest in small trays. You can still serve and plate a nice meal on a tray. This way, guests can anywhere and enjoy a fanciful meal. The more, the merrier.
- Take your kids to the Dollar Store and let them pick out gifts for their siblings. They’ll love the idea of buying for one another, regardless of the price tag.
- Make- instead of buying- gifts. Bake cookies, write affirmation letters, pick flowers. If gift-giving is about the thought, dream away.
- Think back of your favorite gifts as a child. Do you remember the experience, the food, the setting, the gifts? Our kids remember the memories we are present enough to make with them.
- Do progressive Christmas parties with friends and neighbors. Start at one home and offer drinks, move to the next home for salads, then entree, and finally, dessert. This way, everyone shares the menu and their homes.
- Ask for pine boughs when choosing your Christmas tree. Spruce up mantles, doorways and create tablescapes without blowing the budget on decor.
What simple Christmas ideas do you practice?
There’s a richness I’m anticipating- not monetarily- but one of true contentment this Christmas. The kind of joy Paul speaks of in Philippians 4:12. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Dr. Seuss wrote about true contentment in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas when “the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
After all, Christmas began in a lowly stable, a humble beginning. Grace upon grace if some years mean that for us as well.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Last week I was a guest on my friend Jenn’s podcast, Practical Family, and we talked about how faith meets real life: the hard, the striving, the letting go. I hope you feel encouraged by our conversation. Listen to episode 18 here: Choosing REAL: When Faith Meets Real Life.