Want to simplify Christmas and make it more meaningful, while saving money at the same time?  Today we’re going to talk about why you might seriously consider staying home with your immediate family for Christmas.  You might not be able to change your plans for this year, but as you’re considering plans for future years, here are some great things to think about.  At the end we’ll share some ideas to handle sensitive family situations.

We’re on day 19 of our Frugal Festivities series.  If you missed any of our 25 days of Christmas Cheer on a Budget posts you can see them all here.

Ok, let’s talk about why you might want to forgo the trip over the river and thru the woods to grandma’s (or anyone else’s) house for Christmas.  Sounds kinda Grinchy at first, doesn’t it?!  But this is something I’ve heard over and over from my blog readers that has really helped them to scale back their Christmas budgets and increase the joy and meaning of Christmas.

This isn’t to say that you can’t have wonderfully successful Christmases with extended family– I’ve had them, both as a child and a parent– but it’s definitely something to think about if your Christmases with extended family are causing you stress, overspending, and sadness.

Consider staying home instead of traveling

Here are four reasons you might want to consider staying home instead of traveling. I’m not even going to mention the actual travel costs, but you’ll definitely want to take them into consideration.  If you have additional ideas please share them in the comments.

Traveling with kids over the holidays is EXHAUSTING.  Well, traveling with kids is exhausting period, but doing it over Christmas is even more overwhelming.  You have to pack all of your Christmas gifts up and squeeze them into your car or luggage while keeping them a secret. Depending on where you live, the weather may be treacherous during the Christmas season. Just thinking about driving in the snow makes me feel stressed!

Having Christmas morning with extended family can be STRESSFUL and AWKWARD, especially when there are cousins or kids from other families there.  We all want Christmas to be special and magical for our kids, but that can be hard when opening gifts side-by-side with family members who have different Christmas budgets and expectations.  Even just the fear of how kids will handle the inevitable comparisons is enough to be stressful.

Having Christmas with extended family might make you feel PRESSURE TO BUY MORE GIFTS.  Whether it’s buying a gift for great Aunt Sue just because she’ll be there at the family dinner, or feeling like you should buy more or bigger gifts for your kids because they’ll be opening them alongside their cousins, a gift that’s given out of duty or reluctance isn’t good for your budget and will not put you in the Christmas spirit.

At home you can establish your OWN FAMILY TRADITIONS. Those years we have traveled, our own traditions, even decorating our house, have fallen by the wayside.  There’s just something about decorating your own home, putting up your own tree, and just taking the Christmas season in without having to add travel to the itinerary.  One of the main reasons we stopped traveling at Christmas was so we could really establish our own Christmas traditions.

How to say no to holiday travel

So how do you say no to holiday travel without being seen as a scrooge or grinch?

Give reasons that won’t offend.

Don’t blame others in your reasoning.  Use “I” or “we” statements to share how you feel rather than point fingers at others.

Say you want to try something new this year and want to have a more relaxed Christmas at home.

Explain that you feel it’s best for your kids and your family.  No one can argue with how you feel.

Try making a compromise by waiting until after Christmas to travel so you can still have your own traditions and a more intimate gift exchanging in your own home.  You won’t have to pack up the holidays and have the travel stress before Christmas, you won’t have the gift giving pressure or expectation to spend that you might have with extended family, but you’ll still have the opportunity to visit family and build strong family relationships.

How about you?

I would love to hear how you’ve handled traveling to spend Christmas with family.

  • Do you do Christmas morning with extended family? Is it a great experience?
  • What advice would you give to others in similar situations?





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