Keep It Simple for the Holidays


By Christine Weinzapfel-Hayden, LCSW – December 1, 2021-

With the holidays quickly approaching, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and drain yourself financially. Often, we center our ideas about holidays around gifts, especially at Christmas time. I know this is something I have been guilty of in the past.

Every year I make a pledge to myself to cut back, but then the time comes and I feel like I’m not giving my family enough. The truth is, when we look back on gifts we’ve received, those aren’t the memories we hold dear. Our traditions are what make the holidays special.

Giving up the notion that our children need the latest toys, the coolest tech, and the trendiest new fashions isn’t easy. This can happen because we want to make our kids happy, but mostly because marketers and advertisers do a really good job training our psyche to believe we need material items.

When shopping for gifts, make a point to ask yourself, “Does this fit in with my holiday goals?” or “Does my child need this?” before purchasing an item. Asking yourself these questions can open an inner dialog and help prevent overspending.

The first step in creating a simpler holiday season is to discuss your goals with your partner or family. Decide what is important to you and what the holidays mean to you as a unit. Write down your main goal, whether it is to spend less, give more, or create new traditions. Do this early and hold each other accountable as you get closer to the season.

Another idea is to center your gifts on experiences, not items. Our happiest memories are almost always about things we’ve done, not items we’ve received. Memberships to places in or around your community are always great, and as a bonus, they’re gifts the whole family can experience together.

Lastly, don’t forget about your favorite childhood traditions. Take this opportunity to share with your children some of your fondest holiday traditions. For me, it’s cookie baking day and making gingerbread houses. These are two separate family traditions we continue to this day. I have loved introducing them to my own kids.

These traditions don’t have to be expensive. It can be reading your favorite book together, making cookies, or watching a holiday movie. Holidays can be full of joy and magic without having an excessive number of gifts under the tree. The magic comes in the memories you make together.

Talk to your family about ways you can make your holidays even more meaningful by cutting out some of the excess. The memories you make will be worth the changes.