Author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
Everyone knows the story of Cinderella and the ball. Everything about it was magical. She had a fancy dress, a fairy godmother gave her a makeover, and she was whisked away in a luxurious mode of transportation to attend the elegant event of her dreams.
But at midnight, she ran out and all of the magic disappeared. She was back to her normal clothing, the carriage was just a pumpkin, and the mice wanted to get fed. The event was nothing but a memory and she still had to walk home.
Christmas is sort of like that in our consumer-driven society. We spend an entire month spending, shopping, decorating, baking, and choosing the most expensive versions of everything because “Christmas only comes once a year.” But the day after, all many folks have left is a pile of wadded up wrapping paper, more leftovers than can be stuffed in the fridge, and, worst of all, a breathtaking amount of debt. Fast forward to January, and the bills start coming in. The ball is over, and the outlook is bleak for many.
If you are looking for creative suggestions, gift-giving ideas, decorating ideas, and festive food on a dime, check out our Special Occasions category on our sister site, The Frugalite. Be sure to check out the first two pages for the Christmas content.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
It seems like every year there is more and more cultural peer pressure to make it “the best Christmas ever.” The decorations show up in stores before the kids even go trick-or-treating, the commercials begin, prompting you to spend a percentage of your annual income on a ring to let someone know how important they are, and the kids begin compiling their lists in November.
Each year, we go completely overboard decking our halls, spending a small fortune on new bling for our homes. For example, in 2011, Americans spent $6 billion on Christmas decorations. SIX BILLION DOLLARS. $6,000,000,000. In 2021, Americans spent 86 billion on gifts. EIGHTY-SIX BILLION DOLLARS. $86,000,000,000. Don’t they know there’s an economic disaster going on?
The thing is, magic is not created by ramping up an already over-consumerized, every-wish-granted kind of life. Christmas can’t be special when every single day is Christmas. How many shopping trips do most kids go on each year? How much time do they spend at the mall? When is the last time they really wanted something for a long time, dreaming and plotting and working to acquire it? If kids are spoiled rotten on a regular basis, you have to ramp things up to an entirely different level to make a holiday special. If every day is a holiday, then actual holidays have to be fairy tale galas to compete.
And when the ante is constantly upped, how can any kid be happy with simplicity?
Because they’re always looking for the next big thing, they miss the little things. It’s impossible to give a treat to a child who is spoiled because treats are everyday occurrences, canceling out the entire concept of treats. Children like this are never satisfied, and their lives are filled with yearning, because once they get the latest iGadget, there’s already a newer, faster, more exciting iGadget on the horizon.
However, if you don’t want to face crushed hopes on Christmas morning, it’s important to manage the expectations of your loved ones.
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When I was a little girl, I remember reading Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura’s description of the family’s Christmas celebration seemed to me the most magical day I could ever imagine. I could almost taste that exotic orange and the peppermint melting on my tongue.
In our consumerized world, most kids just don’t get to experience that same magic. Everything is shrink-wrapped, instantaneous, and plastic. I tried to create magic for my kids by living more simply, focusing on experiences, and giving from the heart instead of the wallet. I want to teach them that life is more than stuff.
Perhaps this year we should do more of the same. What do you think? How do you keep the magic in Christmas without breaking the bank? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.