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Make a Thrifty Christmas into a Merry Christmas

Updated on December 3, 2017
Allain Christmas profile image

Christmas is a month-long state of mind for me. This festive time of loved ones, parties, gifts, and religious celebrations is so special.


Make Your Christmas Merry Even If Money Is Tight

I grew up during the 1950s and at times the family struggled with lay offs, bills, a recession and a house full of children. Despite that, our Christmas holiday was a happy time for us all. Perhaps the lessons learned by my thrifty parents during their childhood in the Great Depression prepared them for those lean times.

I'll share with you some tips for turning your homemade Christmas into one of the best the family has ever had.

(photo: Christmas card made with stamps by my sister, Shannon Marie Hyle)

Unplug the Christmas Machine

Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season
Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season

I read this years ago and it made a big impression on me. It's time to read it again to refresh my memory for why I don't want an overly-elaborate, overly-expensive Christmas.


Christmas Fun in the Good Old Days - My sister and dad - a 1950s Merry Christmas

Christmas food drawing by Shannon Martin Hyle
Christmas food drawing by Shannon Martin Hyle

Turn Off the TV and Get the Family to Interacting

Sure the kids want to watch the Charley Brown Christmas Special, but get them away from the commercials. Those persistant ads just build Christmas wishes and dreams that Santa won't be able to fill this year. Borrow some Christmas videos from the public library and watch those together (no commercials).

Get the children involved baking cookies, making gifts for each other, and putting up the decorations. These are things they will remember years later as family fun times.

Home-Made Christmas

Home-Made Christmas: With 35 Beautiful Easy-to-make Projects
Home-Made Christmas: With 35 Beautiful Easy-to-make Projects

I was sold when I saw the words easy-to-make. We are all busy and my craft skills aren't the greatest. That's why I need a book like this.


Will This Year Be a Thrifty Christmas for You?

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Free Activities for Your Merry Christmas

for a frugal holiday

Communities have many free events during the holidays. To find these, check through the newspaper event listings, look on community bulletin boards, check online and call around to likely places (church, library, museum). It doesn't cost money for the family to attend the downtown tree lighting ceremony, to go Christmas caroling with a club you belong to, or to attend the Christmas Eve church service.

Book for the Thrifty Christmas - Available on Amazon

Check at the public library to borrow these books for free. Most libraries will have a big display of Christmas books and craft books all ready for you to browse.

Can You Sew? Make Unique Gifts for Family and Friends

Here's my sister making a doll from a pillowcase. It was a quick project using a vintage lace edged case that she found at a yard sale.
Here's my sister making a doll from a pillowcase. It was a quick project using a vintage lace edged case that she found at a yard sale. | Source

Make Some Gifts - Homemade = Love

Here are craft projects tested by me or my mom. Just follow the instructions to make some one-of-a-kind gifts that you won't find in a store. Perhaps they'll be handed down for years to come.

Making Christmas Presents Together Makes Great Family Memories

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV told me "As a single mother, my children and I made painted cookies together and we also made wooden painted Christmas ornaments. They loved doing it because they could personalize them and see the ornaments on the tree. They still have fond memories of both things...they didn't realize that we were poor and I was trying to find ways to make their Christmas Merry."

Switching to Homemade

Helping Others Makes You Feel Good

"The richest people in the world are not millionaires. They are volunteers."

Volunteer for the community Christmas dinner for the poor. Everyone in the family can help serve food, clear tables or other assignments. It gives them a chance to see some people who are in great need, even homeless and to feel good about helping.

I used to make Christmas decorations at school when I was little, but I think doing this as a family tradition so you have something unique to remember each year, maybe a family photo for each Christmas turned into an ornament, is something that will be cherished for years to come, and it's inexpensive too. Christmas gifts don't have to be expensive, it's really the thought that counts after all, and the memories that follow year after year.

— Tony Payne from Southampton, UK

Read Christmas Stories

Christmas Stories by ChristmasCafe
Christmas Stories by ChristmasCafe | Source

Thrifty Tip

Get these books from the public library and read some aloud or have family reading time in the evening. Turn off the TV and let everyone read on their own.

Check the titles listed below or get old favorites.

Best Christmas Pageant Ever (great to read aloud)

Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Best Christmas Pageant Ever

You have the whole family laughing (yes, even dad) when you read this super-fun book. Just imagine the worst behaved kids you can think of, then imagine them in the Christmas pageant. Chaos follows.


A Cup of Christmas Tea

A Cup of Christmas Tea
A Cup of Christmas Tea

Light a candle, settle the family with some hot chocolate or cups of tea and start reading this to them. It will inspire all of you to reach out to someone who may be lonely at Christmas.

This story is great for reading aloud as the program for a club meeting. I heard this done at a Rotary meeting and it lends itself to a dramatic reading.


Find Simple Craft Projects to Stretch the Budget

Check your craft supplies and figure out what you can make.
Check your craft supplies and figure out what you can make. | Source

© 2009 Virginia Allain

Add Your Tips for a Thrifty Christmas

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    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Great ideas for sharing the season without spending a lot of money.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am ready to start on Christmas 2013! I saved one of the books you suggest above to my wishlist over on amazon.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      8 years ago from So Cal

      Came back to bless this lens. We are having a thrifty Christmas and it's just more fun.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Over the years I have knitted scarfs for a few friends and some of my family.


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