Welcome to day 1 in the 5 Days to a Debt Free Christmas series! Today we are going to talk about 5 ways to celebrate Christmas debt-free.
Ever since my husband and I knew we were going to marry one another we decided to devise a plan to become debt-free. We both had to finance our undergraduate education so we already knew that once we entered into the “real world” we’d have a pile of debt to tackle. We were serious about not having the stress of money cause a divide in our marriage – we simply weren’t going to allow it.
Those plans made during the winter of 1999 in our church’s college group came to pass a few years into our marriage. With a lot of hard work and dedication, we paid off thousands and thousands of dollars of debt. The only thing that we have not (yet) paid off is one of the homes that we own in another state as we plan to retire there once my husband is done with his military career.
One of the major components our debt-free plan was to always celebrate Christmas without any debt. We knew too many people who would go into debt to purchase elaborate gifts for Christmas only to be still paying for them the entire year (and then some) afterwards — and the cycle would just repeat. This was something that we were not willing to do and we also knew that it would bless our marriage if we worked hard to pay off all our student loan debt.
I want to share with you 5 ways that you can have a wonderful Christmas celebration without any debt!
5 Ways to Celebrate Christmas Debt-Free
1. Decide to have a hand-made Christmas.
I cannot tell you how meaningful it is to me when someone gives me a hand-made gift. It can be a hand drawn card or a tin of homemade cookies, but it does the heart good to know that a person would spend their precious time crafting a gift with their hands, for me. Another great thing is that you can create these gifts all year long so it isn’t a burden or stress on you or your family. There are some wonderful books that can give you great ideas for a handmade Christmas.
2. Don’t buy gifts this year, but instead serve others together.
About 8 years ago our family decided that we were going to trim down what was under the tree and pour our lives into others during the holiday season. We’ve enjoyed serving others in various ways during the Christmas season. Some of the ways you might consider serving others: volunteer at a homeless shelter to serve food and hand out blankets, bake goods for some local law enforcement or firemen, go caroling at a nursing home, cook or clean for an elderly or disabled person, or visit some sick children at a hospital. There are so many ways we can serve others, think of the way that would be best for your family and go for it! You won’t regret it!
3. If you have a large family, draw names for gifts and set a spending limit.
I know that some people are blessed with large families. In this case it can be so stressful if you are in the habit of buying gifts (or at least attempting to) for everyone. In this case, you can suggest that your family draw names so that no one person has to buy a gift for more than one other person. In the case of small children, it would be wise to limit their gifts to handmade gifts so that you are not still buying a lot of gifts if you have a lot of young children underfoot.
4. Plan a budget-friendly family experience instead of buying individual gifts.
When we were living in Germany we had planned a year in advance to take a vacation in the Bavarian Alps. We got the hotel room booked way in advance (we didn’t have to pay until arrival), planned out the gas money we’d spend, and priced out a few day trips we wanted to take to Austria and Switzerland. Over the course of the year we set up a budget so that when the time came we didn’t feel the stress of having to spend all that money at once. It was THE BEST Christmas experience we’ve had thus far.
5. Host a family that is in need and shower them with your love and a warm meal – no gifts exchanged.
Because we were a military family for 15 years, we have had the opportunity to show this type of love toward some of the young soldiers and their families. It feels so wonderful to see the smiling faces of those whom you are able to host. And the best part? While you may be giving them a warm home-cooked meal, they are giving you the blessing of spending time getting to know who they are. I am always so thankful when someone shares a part of who they are with our family as we are always better for it!