Christmas time is here!  The tree is up, the lights are hung outside, and the hot chocolate is consumed by the gallons.  But, you look around and wonder how on earth you’re going to afford buying presents and tickets to all the events.  How does anyone afford all this???

You’re not alone.  A LOT of people stress about money this time of year.

The good news is that research says doing things makes us happier than getting things.  Which means when you (and your kids, if you have any) look back at Christmas 2017, you’ll likely remember what you did more than what you got.  

So, here are some helpful tips on how to have a great December without needing a lot of money.

Look up free events in your area and plan ahead each week.  There are so many things to do this time of year.  You can google “free events” to see what’s happening in your area.  Go to tree lighting ceremonies, go sledding and hold hands while caroling.  Find the neighborhoods with the best lights.  Look up church events in your area.  Churches are great places to find wonderful, free events like live nativity scenes and Christmas eve services. Create a new tradition.  

Limit your spending. Have a budget and a plan.  Make a list of everyone you plan to buy for and put an amount next to their name.  Once you have the list completed, add up all the amounts. Can you afford this?  Is there a way to be creative in your spending?  Thoughtful gifts don’t have to cost a lot. Look up how to make homemade items like artwork, cookies in a dollar store tin and Christmas ornaments.

Stay away from the mall. I avoid the mall at Christmas. I know, this sounds terrible, but I’m just as guilty as anyone else in getting sucked into the commercialization of Christmas. It all looks so pretty and needed. So, I avoid the mall. If you want to see Santa, find out if he’ll be available in another area. Here in Florida, he makes appearances in restaurants, zoos and libraries.

Limit the amount of television you watch, or stream shows without commercials.  Why do we not realize we need something until we see it?  The goal of commercials is to make you believe your life will be better with whatever they're selling. This isn’t true and you’ll have a more enjoyable Christmas if you stop feeling like you have to buy so much and go out and do something ... hopefully for free!

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About the Author


Kristen lives in Florida with her awesome husband and 3 energetic kids. She earned a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a psychology professor at a local university. In her free time, she hangs out with family and friends, volunteers at her church and laughs as much as possible. She has a passion for Jesus, helping others and anything chocolate. Follow her on instagram @kristen_hodges_cg