Spend Less and Stress Less This Holiday Season


The holiday season, in all its fun-filled, pecan pie, sparkly light, peppermint mocha glory, can be definitely is a stressful time for moms. What is advertised as blissful holidays off work and time with family turns into a never-ending chore list of arranging family photos, sending holiday cards, selecting, purchasing and wrapping gifts, planning, shopping for, and cooking meals, cleaning up, and coordinating family get-togethers. It is easy to get overwhelmed and lose some of the wonder and enjoyment the holiday season is supposed to bring.

One of the most stressful parts of Christmas is trying not to break the bank buying gifts. Gifts are a fun part of the holiday season, yet there’s always one more thing that little Susie just has to have. Then you have to buy one more thing for everyone else to make sure each kid gets to open the same number of presents. Before you know it, you’ve spent twice your budget and doubled your stress. Even if you’re not on a strict budget, you may just desire to be a little more intentional with your spending and gift-giving this year.

Here are a few ideas to spend less & stress less for a more meaningful holiday season:

I found these in the clearance at target for $.30-$.50 each!!


  1. Forgo the gift wrap
    Of course there is nothing like watching a sweet, over-excited, bright-eyed child rip open a package on Christmas morning. I’m not suggesting you forgo that joy!! You can find other ways to limit the wrapping paper. Perhaps don’t wrap adult presents or wrap them in simple boxes that can be reused.  “Wrap” gifts in a reusable tote bag or backpack, decorative storage basket, or a tackle box/tool box! Having a container that is also a gift is a great way to reduce your cost AND your waste. Plan a scavenger hunt to gifts that are hidden instead of wrapped.
  2. Agree to a pre-determined number of gifts
    Some families choose the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” theory and select 4 meaningful gifts for each kiddo. This works really well with the older kiddos who have some opinion on what they want and need for Christmas. For younger kiddos, having your family (looking at you, grandparents!) agree to a limited number of presents helps assure parents their homes won’t be bombarded with toys and encourages gift selection to be more meaningful. It also helps to avoid the last minute scramble of buying more gifts!
  3. Shop early/year-round
    This is a great money-saving tip. Shopping year-round helps you avoid a big hit to your monthly budget during the holidays. You can also find excellent sales. This works really well if you don’t mind hiding presents somewhere until the holiday season. You can also avoid the stress and consumerism of the holidays and the temptation to buy things just because they are on display. In fact, if you give yourself a hard deadline and say “No Shopping After 12/1” you can avoid the shopping chaos and have a great excuse not to make more purchases.
  4. Forgo adult gifts
    Choose not to exchange gifts with your spouse, siblings, or parents. This works really well if neither of your love languages is gifts. At family gatherings, agree to only buy gifts for the children, or do a “Secret Santa” or white elephant exchange with a spending limit to reduce the amount you spend on adults. Who needs one more $50 amazon gift card, anyway?
  5. Gifts that last all year long
    Family Membership to the OKC Zoo: The OKC Zoo is wonderful and it is open year-round! There are many educational and fun events for children of all ages, a nursing room for breastfeeding families, and a Starbucks! Give the mom in your life this gift for her to enjoy with her littles.
    Membership to the Science Museum: Empower a lifelong love of learning with an annual pass to the Science Museum! Perfect for rainy days, the science museum also features programs for children of all ages!
    Art Museum of Oklahoma City Annual Membership: You may be surprised to learn that the Art Museum has tons of programs for children of all ages, even babies!
    OKC Kids Shirt of the Month Subscription: Give your tiny Okie this fun surprise that lasts all year long – only $10 a month supports a local business and ships a new funky Oklahoma-inspired t-shirt to your little one. Available in sizes 2T, 3T, 4T, and Youth XS or get this for the Okie-loving adult in your life!
    A Keep it Local Card: This is one of my favorite affordable stocking stuffers, only $15, perfect for office Christmas exchanges or other small holiday parties and gives the recipient great deals to shop local all year long.
  6. Free (or almost free) gifts
    Easily the best way to save money this holiday season is not to spend it. Create cookie-mix-in-a-jar with handwritten tags or bake and hand deliver your favorite sweet treats. Print out pictures of your kids for their grandparents. Get your kids to deep clean the house for their grandparents. Hang or take down Christmas décor for your neighbor. Write (or type) a letter to your kids telling them your favorite memories of the year. Gift a favorite book of yours. Record your kids singing a favorite Christmas carol for their aunts and uncles. Check out Kelly’s post for even more nearly free ideas!
  7. Regifting
    Miss Manners probably would frown upon this idea, but I say there’s nothing wrong with regifting done right! Regifting parties can be perfectly tasteful. Everyone just brings one nice, clean toy or outfit that is no longer loved by your kiddos!
  8. Donations
    There are so many pressing needs around us all year long, but the holidays are a great time to support a cause. In lieu of gifts, spend your money in a meaningful way this holiday season by making a donation to a cause your loved one holds dear.

What are your favorite stress-free holiday gifts and traditions?


  1. So right on and timely! The gift-giving circle sometimes makes me want to say “Stop The Insanity!” Especially #4 – I feel like as adults, if we need something we get it. I have several years’ worth of perfume gifts that I will never be able to use up, because people keep giving me more . . . Thoughtful, meaningful gifts will always be treasured and deeply appreciated. Great post, Jenna!


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