Celebrating Christmas When You’re Short on Cash

By Rachel O’Neill, Contributing Writer

This holiday season things are slightly tighter for our family. A new baby, unexpected dental bills, and other financial surprises have cropped up, forcing us to stick to the essentials as opposed to the extravagant.

Christmas Snowflake

Photo By Tsayrate

Instead of bemoaning what the Lord has not seen fit to give us at this time, I am trying to look to Him with thanksgiving, and to make the best of our financial status.

If there isn’t any wiggle room in your budget this year either, here’s a few strategies for surviving it all, joyfully!

1) Pare down

Instead of sending out professionally done family photo cards, this year we will be asking a friend to take our picture, and sending them via an email newsletter. Friends and family will still be able to see the kids, and they’ll still hear Christmas wishes and how we’re doing.

We won’t be buying gifts for our two small children, because frankly, they have more than enough stuff, and family and friends are over and abundantly generous with them. Trust me- at 2 years and 4 months, they won’t know the difference. Presents are presents, whether they come from Mom and Dad or not.

We won’t be buying gifts for each other either. Maybe someday when we are debt free we can enjoy that luxury. In the meantime, it will be a big treat to leave the kids with my parents for an afternoon or two and take a walk or grab a cup of coffee, just the two of us.

2) Give anyway

We still desire to show friends and family members that we love them and are thinking of them. I will be baking up a storm, and putting together a few homemade gifts {for frugal homemade gift ideas, check out my pin board!}.

Also, remember the many people less fortunate than you. Sure, things may be tight for us right now- but our bellies are always full, our heat is running, and we have a roof over our heads and plenty of nice clothing. Many, many people in the world are not so lucky.

Our church participates in Operation Christmas Child each year, and my husband and I love being a part of this ministry. This year I bought a giant bag of candy while it was on sale after Halloween. I also made a handful of these adorable head bands to stuff in the boxes. While I don’t have surplus money to give, I have time. Making things for others, volunteering for your Church’s outreach programs, and visiting the sick and immobile are all ways that you can bless and serve when cash is in short supply.

3. Look to Christ

Isn’t this what this holiday is all about? It’s about remembering the God who became flesh, sacrificing Himself and the riches of paradise to ransom sinful men to Himself. When I meditate on the Christmas story, I see a Savior who came into far humbler circumstances than mine. He made Himself nothing (Phil. 2:5-8), He emptied Himself, for us. How will He then not graciously give us all things (Rom. 8:32)?!? We truly have everything when we have Him.

We know that our God supplies all of our needs (Phil. 4:19). If He hasn’t given it to us at this time, then we don’t need it. And we can choose joy and contentment in Him today, in this season, whether it is one of want or plenty.

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” Philippians 4:11


How does your family celebrate with limited means? Any tips or hints to share?