Rethinking Christmas: Gifts and Cards

I’ve added photos to the last Rethinking Christmas post…scroll down or click here.


For years I bought Christmas gifts for everyone I knew: family, friends, neighbors, Bible study members, postal carriers… I spent a ton on the ones we loved, and a small fortune on the ones we sorta-kinda liked. My “Love Language” is gifts, so to me, giving a gift says, “You’re special to me,” or, “I thought of you,” or, “Thank you.”

I’d thought of cutting back, but was afraid of hurting others’ feelings. Now this year, having to cut back out of necessity, it’s funny–I’m not worried about offending anyone. I’m more interested in finding just the perfect, nearly-free way to let them know I love them and hold them in my heart year-round.


We will make heartfelt gifts for these folks from supplies we already have on hand. We have enough fun fabrics, notions and skill to make a few of “these” and a couple of “those,” for aunts and uncles, the lovely couple across the street, and the well-meaning people who surprise you with gifts. (You know, the ones with huge smiles across their faces who promise they’re not hurt you didn’t think of them like they thought of you.) Don’t worry, I’ll share photos of our crafts as we go along. But rather than imitating our crafts, I encourage you to go through your own stash of supplies and figure out what you can make.


We will still buy for our own children. This year we’ll return to our tradition of buying three gifts for each child–sort of like the gold, frankincense and myrrh Jesus recieved. I’m cutting their bottom dollar line in half. I’m rethinking where and how I buy their gifts–today I bought a $15 item for my daughter at a consignment shop for $4!

We’ll buy something for my parents (hubby’s parents have passed)–the more sentimental the better. And we’ll likely give our neices and nephews cold, hard cash (a smaller amount than usual), which they like best anyhow. 

Our Christmas will cost 50% less this year over last.


This is a touchy topic for me. I love to brag on my family. I love to mail out gorgeous photo cards along with a completely gratuitous Christmas Letter–to everyone I know, everyone I once knew, and everyone I’d like to know. I spend over $100 each year, sending cards to over 100 people. And where do the cards end up? In their trash bin right along with the wrapping paper! This year by halving the amount of cards I send– ordering 50 beautiful photo cards (with envelopes) for $14.99 from Costco–and using stamps I already have on-hand, I’m reducing my holiday greeting card out-of-pocket cost by 85%


For years I believed the lie that the more I spent on Christmas gifts, the better daughter, mother, wife, friend, and neighbor I was. I believed that the amount of money I spent on others was how they gauged my love for them. This year, forced by financial circumstances to cut back our Christmas budget, I have begun to see the truth–I am not measured by my money. My mother will not see me as less of a daughter because I can’t afford to buy her something expensive; my husband will actually be relieved that I don’t spend a lot of money on him; my children won’t care if the gift cost $4 from a consignment shop if it’s something they like. The truth is, they love me no matter how shallow my pockets.

STAY TUNED for the next post in the series, Revisiting Christmas: More Traditions at Home


6 responses to “Rethinking Christmas: Gifts and Cards

  1. this was all so beautifully put. You have really hit the nail on the head. there are many things here that my family will also be considering this year.It is all pretty refreshing isn’t it?

  2. I remember one of our mom’s group teachers talking about how one year her husband, when asked what he wanted for Christmas, was that sh spend less money. So she cut back significantly with the help of the kids, spending only a small portion of it, and took the rest of the budgeted money, stuck it in an envelope and gave it to him for Christmas.

    It is interesting because we have spent years having no Christmas budget at all, where I would pull from our regular grocery budget to put a special meal on the table, pick up things at the thrift shop for gifts throughout the year, and make what I couldn’t buy. This year we are actually spending money on people and it feels strange. Then again, my love language is NOT gifts, though it is service and I LOVE giving the perfect gift to others.

  3. Bless you! I have been having a lot of the same thoughts here. Usually I have Christmas shopping mostly done by now. But, this past year has been different for us. I haven’t been able to keep up with my eBaying like normal, so my funds for extras are gone. With gas prices (the high ones, not the ones we have now) and the cost of living so much higher, Christmas has just slipped up on me with not much accomplished in tangibles. Thankfully, as Christians we know it’s not about us, and not about gifts, but try explaining that to all those people who have collected gifts from you for years. I’m thinking my scrapbooking supplies are making a comeback in the next few weeks and I’ll put all these photographs I’ve taken this year to work to make some awesome gifts. Thanks for the suggestion – lol! I just love your blog :).

  4. Thanks so much for your post. It is encouraging and reminds us all to get back to the basics of Christmas, Jesus himself.

    I needed that reminder this year.

    We are making a few homemade gifts this year also. One of my favorites that I am working on are hand crocheted dishwrags (a few dollars for a skein of cotton yarn), and I thought it would be fun to add hand soap, lotion, and maybe even a small kitchen candle.

    Looking forward to futher inspiration.

  5. Have I told you today how much I love you??! That post was such a breath of fresh air, such an eloquent reminder that gifts and money is not the way we measure our worth as human beings, family, friends…

    We narrowed it down to just our kids, sometimes each other, and my mom. We make rare exceptions. Rather than extend the list of people we give to, we focus our efforts on helping moms/kids at the battered women shelter in our city. It’s our fourth year of being involved, and if people have any issues with our Christmas/Card list, we just explain that we, in their honor, have decided to help provide Christmas for families in crisis who would otherwise go without. Helps keep it in perspective!!

    Love ya!

  6. thistledewmercantile

    Hi Deb!

    What a great post… we’re just getting into the “thinking about Christmas” mode, and it will be a cutting back year as well for us. However, we still want the thoughtfulness to be important, so crafting and really thinking about what would show our love will be on the top of the list! Thanks for the post!

    Kim 🙂

    P.S. I just tagged you on my blog… Happy Thanksgiving!

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