Medium Sized Family uses affiliate links. If you click a link, we could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read more.

Not long ago we watched an old home video of Christmas morning when our oldest child was just turning 2. It was adorable, of course, and I loved looking back at how simple our life was then. But the most striking thing was watching him enjoy his gifts.

Santa had brought several toys. But only one gift held his attention. His new basketball hoop. He picked up that ball over and over. “Basket! Basket!” I watched a younger version of myself show him the other toys he’d received, but none of them held his attention like that basketball.

Christmas is such a magical season for people of all ages. But as we get older, we tend to complicate it. We worry about getting the perfect gift and buying “just one more thing”. It doesn’t have to be that way!

A couple of years ago, we decided to escape that rat race. Each year we try to simplify where we can. But in our #yearofno, we’ll be doing that even more.

Here’s how we’re celebrating a frugal Christmas.

Cutting Back

We don’t want people to feel that we’ve forgotten them during the giving season. So we will continue to give gifts. But you can bet we’re being more careful about how we spend our dollars on those gifts.

I pulled together a list of cheap gift ideas that appeal to a wide variety of people. We’ll try to stick with this list when we can, and find other creative ways to stretch our Christmas budget.

[Tweet “How to celebrate a frugal Christmas. #Christmas”]


We had a family portrait taken this year. Typically that makes me anxious to mail out photo cards at Christmas. This year, I’ll create a simple card to share via Facebook and email instead. This will save the cost of the cards and the stamps.

Extra Decor

My husband is a bit of a Clark Griswold. He loves to deck out the house with Christmas lights. I add another wheel of lights to his collection every December. I often pick up a few extra decorations to use around the house.

We won’t skip the great light extravaganza. Our family gets plenty of joy out of it, and the LED lights don’t cost too much extra to run. But I won’t be adding to our collection this year.

Building a Christmas Fund

Our biggest and most impactful change is that we have a Christmas fund this year. I’m embarrassed at the amount of Christmas gifts we’ve put on credit cards over the years! The only way to dig out of debt is to change your basic habits.

I’ve done many different things to add money to this Christmas fund. If the money runs out, we will get creative or skip gifts rather than going into debt.

If you’d like to fill your own Christmas account, check out my 7 Ways to Pile Up Christmas Money series. You’ll find seven different ideas to try to fill up your Christmas giving envelope.

What We WILL Be Doing

This post makes Christmas sound like it will be a bit of a downer. And with a motto like #yearofno, it often sounds more negative than it really is! We’ll still be getting plenty of joy from our Christmas season.

We will continue our favorite traditions, because most of them don’t cost much money. We’ll snuggle up and read our favorite Christmas books.

We’ll put on jammies, grab some hot chocolate, and hit the road for a Christmas lights scavenger hunt.

We’ll print out free tickets and enjoy a pretty train display at a local museum.

We’ll sing Christmas carols and decorate cookies and spy (not so naughty) antics from our Elf on a Shelf.

Christmas is about giving. Spending money is easy. This year, try giving from your time and talent.

 How do you simplify Christmas?