web analytics

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

Share or Save This

Every time a doctor walked into my room, I would say, “Hi, I’m going home tomorrow!”

Our fourth child had been born very early that morning.  And while we could hardly contain our excitement over having a daughter (!), we also had three young sons at home.

And tomorrow was Christmas Eve.

The biggest day of the year, especially for the 5 and under set!

That crazy year had proven that our boys could do without a lot of the Christmas traditions we had found so important.

But the one thing they couldn’t do without was having mom and dad home to celebrate the big day.

We learned so much from having a simple Christmas that year.

And you wouldn’t believe how much you can love the season when you skip those things you always feel obligated to do.

So let’s talk about how to celebrate a Christmas you won’t regret!

7 Things You Can Skip This Christmas


Our family put in two Christmases during our #yearofno. 

(That was a period of time that we were very careful to not spend any extra money.  (Read more about it here.)  Instead, we sent every spare dime we could to pay off our ginormous credit card debt.)

You can do it, too.  Try these things.

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are always nice.  I especially love to create photo cards and send them to family and friends!

But not only is that time consuming, it can also get expensive.

During our #yearofno, we stopped sending physical cards. 

While I love the tradition, we found it easier and free to create a card online (try Canva for a free option)

Then we just sent it to friends and family via email and social media.

Christmas Tree

Christmas tree

We used to love hunting the perfect tree and bringing it home to decorate.  The smell of a fresh cut tree really makes the season great!

Then we noticed one of our boys couldn’t stop sneezing and wheezing while it was in the house. 

And that was the end of the live trees.

So we grabbed an artificial tree on an after Christmas clearance sale.  And boy, was it nice to save $50 (that we didn’t really have anyway) the next year!  (And several years beyond!)

Want to celebrate a simple Christmas this year? Here are some Christmas traditions and obligations you can skip. Meaningful Christmas, Christmas with family, love Christmas again, have a less material Christmas

My hot tip for buying a fake tree is to avoid any that come with lights. Here’s one good artificial Christmas tree that fits the bill!

I mean, how many times have you heard a friend complain that they have to toss out a tree just because the lights stopped working??

It’s just not worth it.

Hot tip number 2: borrow an artificial tree from someone instead.

It always surprises me to find out that people have more than one artificial tree (or they own one, but started buying fresh trees again!).

You’ll be glad to save the expense, and you’ll still have the spirit of the season in your home.

Buying It All!

Christmas shopping

While traditions at holiday time can be a blessing, the obligations that come with some of those traditions are definitely not.

We often make a long list of people we need to remember during the season. 

Things we need to buy to make the family feel special. 

Places we have to go.

How many of those things really have to be done?

It’s wonderful to remember everyone in your life at the holiday season.  But that doesn’t have to mean spending money!

Use this list of Inexpensive Christmas Gifts (several of them are free!) to come up with ways to make them feel special without breaking the bank.

Pull back…do only the most important things for your family. 

Drop anything that just isn’t in the budget this year.

And if that means a tough conversation with friends and family, do it. 

Better to try to make them understand your difficult situation than suffer in silence for…how many more Christmases?

A good #yearofno plan doesn’t have to last forever!  Take a couple of years to get through the debt, and later you’ll be able to afford the extras without feeling guilty.

If nothing else, suggest these fun gift exchange themes to simplify the number of people you buy gifts for!


I had a grandmother who loved to bake. 

At Christmastime, each family would get a plate piled high with dozens of different cookie recipes.  She baked for weeks (and would freeze the cookies so they would still be delicious).

This was such a special part of the season for us.  To this day, my oldest children (who remember her) still call her “the Grandma with the cookies”.  🙂

Baking plays a special role for Christmas for many of us.

This year, don’t feel like you have to do it all. 

Stick to a couple of family favorites.  Make it easy on yourself, and affordable for your grocery budget.


Another idea is to double up. Enjoy baking your cookies…and make it into a gift for others!

You can find many ingredients on sale, especially just before Thanksgiving.  And if you want fresh ideas, try some of these Christmas cookie recipes.

You may even enjoy holding a fun cookie exchange instead of a traditional Christmas party!

Gift Exchanges

Christmas gifts under tree

One thing about the holidays that I actually dread is when someone shows up with a gift that I wasn’t expecting. 

If I have nothing to give them back, I feel terrible!

But the truth is, it’s not your responsibility to know the intent of other people.  There are many generous souls who love to give, and they don’t necessarily need a gift in return. 

Let it go, and realize that it wasn’t your decision to make.

For families and groups who have always exchanged gifts, why not suggest a fun gift exchange theme game this year?  

You might be surprised at how many others join your relief to have fewer gifts to buy.


Seeing adorable Christmas decor at a craft show or lights in the stores makes it really hard to squash that impulse to buy.

In our #yearsofno, we didn’t even buy Christmas decor on clearance in January.  (That was especially tough for my lights extravaganza loving husband!)

That doesn’t mean you have to do without.  We were pretty happy with the boxes of decor we’d already collected over the years.

But there are lots of ways to decorate without spending tons of cash, or taking hours to set it all up.

rustic Christmas decorations
Use materials you already have at home and in your yard to make some pretty Christmas decor.

Assuming you already have printer ink (or access to a library with free or cheap prints), free printables like these spread cheer throughout your home for little to no cost!

A walk in the park (or your own backyard) will give you plenty of materials for these natural Christmas decor ideas.

Depending what crafting material you already own, these projects might cost you little to nothing!


Christmas lights snowman

Do movies and music define the season for you?  We enjoy adding to our collection each year.  But you don’t have to spend money to enjoy Christmas media.

Look up shows for free on YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon Prime (if you haven’t cut that out).

Borrow from friends.

Hit the library for free books, movies, and music!  They may even have free events like making a gingerbread house or a Christmas carols evening.

Don’t feel guilty about celebrating Christmas #yearofno style!

We still celebrate our little Christmas baby every year.  And we remember the simple Christmas…

being home with the ones you love is what really matters!

Hey, here’s one more way to save…Grab your free printable funny Christmas Tags here!

How do you save money at Christmas?