How to Celebrate Christmas During a Recession

Christmas time is important, regardless of the economic woes brought about by the frailty of human systems. All the same, it is one thing to acknowledge the spirituality and importance of Christmas, and another to be left worrying about the cost of gifts and food for the table when money is tight.


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    Save up during the year. Although there are Christmas savings schemes available, it is usually better value and definitely more flexible to save your money into the bank (open a special online only account) and just add a small amount every week without fail. By Christmas time, this money is available for you to spend as you see fit, rather than having to accept the choices of a Christmas club.
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    Discuss the financial issues openly with family members. This is not a time to keep up a pretense of wealth and "anything goes". Everyone knows when a recession happens, and although not everyone suffers equally, it is well understood that only the foolish spend money unwisely during such a time. Explain to family members that expectations in the gift department must be lowered for a recession Christmas but that this doesn't mean the tree will be bare. Instead, ask your family to come up with creative alternatives to spending a lot of money on gifts. Some examples might include:
    • Homegrown favorite herbs, flowers, citrus, ferns, etc.
    • Sewn items from aprons to eye pillows, using fabric already at home, or purchased at sales
    • Re-gifted items – gifts received during the year that were not wanted, duplicated, etc. can be re-given to those who will appreciate them
    • Baked goods – homemade candies, cakes, chocolates, cookies, preserves, jellies, etc. are ideal gifts. Not only are they tasty but family members can get really creative making these and team spirit can also prevail if several members get into the kitchen at once!
    • Coupons – for personal services. Offer to wash a car monthly for a year, to take the dogs for regular walks, to give a regular massage, to make a special meal once a month, to go hiking somewhere together, to have a picnic together, etc. There are just so many ideas of how you can gift your talents, expertise, skills, and labor to others that the only limit is your availability and willingness!
    • Photos - create a montage of family and friends; don't forget the pets! Or, take the time to arrange photos in an album for a family member who has never taken the time to do this.
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    Don't stress or mourn over lost times. Excess is excess and if you really admit it to yourself, having more money to spend on gifts doesn't necessarily reduce the stress of obtaining them, and can in fact increase expectations and worries. Less money should equal less fuss and more thoughtful input from each purchaser.
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    Prepare healthy food in the right proportions. Many Christmas spreads overdo the food, and there are leftovers aplenty for days to follow. Skip that mentality and only make enough for the day; reduce the size of the poultry, reduce the expensive food items. Make better use of homemade food such as specialty bread, cookies, cake, baked nuts, etc. Use seasonal vegetables and fruit – these will be far cheaper than food shipped or flown in for the occasion.
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    Emphasize the point of Christmas. In case anyone has missed the real message of Christmas, recession time is an ideal time to reinforce this message. For those celebrating a faith-based Christmas, retell the stories of Jesus' life and the values he espoused about loving one another and not money. If you are celebrating a secular Christmas, the message is no less pertinent – rewatch the story of Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol to see where hoarding money and never truly giving leads to.
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    Get the kids and the crafty people to make the wrap, cards, and tags. Anything that can be made from paper should be made at home. Not only is this budget-conscious but it's way more fun than buying processed gift wrap and cards from the store. There are so many possibilities: drawings, photos, stickers, stamping, printing, finger-painting, collages, scrapbooking, recycling, etc. Get creative and get chatting with one another as you craft your cards and wrapping.
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    See the silver linings in a recession Christmas. When you all draw together and seriously address the need to reduce costs at Christmas, you can find your family gelling as a team and spending more time together problem-solving. This is a good outcome, and is a gentle reminder that money cannot buy all our needs.
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    Give to others more needy. A very humble way to deal with Christmas in a recession is to look around at those worse off than you. There will always be many people in this situation. Ask your family for ideas of ways you might be able to help out; perhaps some members can spend Christmas morning helping to prepare Christmas food for the homeless at a local charity? Even if you're in very bad financial shape yourself (something you should not ignore but seek help for), you will benefit from reaching out to help others too; it gives a perspective to things that you won't otherwise get just thinking about your own troubles.
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    Get an advent calendar. This is a fun way to give yourself a little cheer.Some advent calendars are very inexpensive.A lot of times,they won't break your diet either.


  • Buy in bulk – both food and gift wrapping can be better value when purchased in bulk. Purchase at a discount store where possible.
  • Come up with slogans to encourage everyone to get into the spirit, for example, "Luxuries are out; mindful presence is in."
  • Don't skimp on everything; one or two luxurious food items can make all the difference to a fantastic Christmas meal.

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Categories: Christmas Spirit | Recession