A Buy Nothing Christmas Challenge

Happy Black Friday, or as I like to celebrate it, Buy Nothing Day! This time of year can be stressful for a lot of people, and it’s no wonder. We spend our nights and weekends standing in long lines at the store and spending way too much money.

But it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Imagine a Christmas without the stress of shopping for everyone on your list.

Imagine a Christmas where you don’t set foot in a mall.

Imagine a Christmas without any financial regrets.

Imagine a Christmas that actually made you feel lighter and more refreshed, not weighted down and over-spent.

Last year I posed a few ideas about how to simplify the holiday season.

This year I’m very excited to announce that I’m teaming up with the BBC to do a “Buy-Nothing Christmas Challenge.”

The challenge is a logical step for my family. This year I completed a year-long clothes shopping ban, a frugal grocery month, and a Buy Nothing Month.

I recently had a couple friends specifically ask me how to save money at Christmastime.

This year the average American says they plan to spend $785 on gifts. With overconsumption at its height, what better time to intentionally slow down and take a step back from the craziness…without giving up the fun and meaning of the holiday. 

I think most people wish the holidays were a little less complicated and expensive. No matter how frugal we are the rest of the year, the holidays are the one big exception.

It’s hard to cut back without adjusting your expectations – those of your family and yourself. Here’s three different levels we will implement this year to help curb overconsumption.

1. Buy Nothing

This is what we’ll do in our family – Josh, myself, and our boys. We won’t actually buy gifts for one another. We’ll still celebrate though. Rather than focus on the gifts Christmas morning, we’ll focus on eating a special breakfast, playing special Christmas music, and reading the Christmas story together. We won’t skimp on food and drink. A nice meal is the main centerpiece of a Christmas without gifts. We’ll probably sing songs, light candles, and take a moment to be thankful for our non-material blessings. Now is the perfect time for us to craft our family traditions because our kiddos are still so young. Right now we’re setting the expectations they will have of Christmas morning for the rest of their lives.

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A Christmas cinnamon roll for breakfast! One of our traditions.

2. Make Something

This is what we’ll do with my parents and siblings. I suggested doing a Buy-Nothing Christmas with them last year, but gift giving is a major love language for some of my family. They are a very artistic bunch, and appreciative of the thought that goes into the gift. The more sentimental, the better. There will be homemade items, I’m sure. Monday I’ll share some minimalist but heartfelt gift ideas.

3. Buy One Thing

With Josh’s siblings we won’t forego gifts, but we have simplified the process to where it’s affordable and enjoyable. For the past several years we’ve done a Secret Santa exchange with Josh’s siblings rather than buying gifts for everyone. To do this we draw a name from a hat and buy a gift for that one person. Everyone has something special to open on Christmas and gets the joy of giving something personal.The benefit of this is that it’s very traditional and easy to implement. We literally buy one thing and everyone gets to open something.

There you have it, three options for a Buy Nothing or (Buy Almost Nothing) Christmas. As always, let me know if you’d like to join in the challenge. How will you be celebrating this year, and what will you be doing to reduce waste or save money? If you’re new to this kind of thing, why not try it for one year and see if you like it? 

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2 Comments

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  1. Great ideas! We’ve been doing a similar “secret Santa” with John’s family the last few years. This year the siblings decided to do a group dinner date together instead of buying gifts for each other.
    I love that you didn’t discount gift-giving as a legitimate love language – it’s definitely one of mine (I always want to buy everyone everything!). Excited to hear ideas for frugal “homemade” gifts, because that’s probably a good option for people like me!

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