Friday, November 25, 2016

The Frugal Retiree And Christmas Beginnings

Happy Thanksgiving to all this morning! Yesterday, I was blessed to have a lovely dinner with family and friends, after a very relaxing day of not doing very much, which is as it should be.  Today, my tree is up and the lights are on, although it will probably take a week of arranging and re-arranging ornaments by all parties to make sure said tree is "perfect".

As always happens on the weekend post-Thanksgiving, articles, posts and commentaries about Christmas, how to celebrate it, and how to spend for it abound. Some folks do no gifts. Some do gifts for children only. Some only gift experience gifts and some go whole hog. Just as on this Friday, some people will shop for deals, some will have a "no spend day" and some of us will simply stay at home, go to a park or enjoy the long weekend.  Personally, I don't shop on this particular day-but it has much more to do with not being an early bird and not doing well in crowds than an absolute opposition to Black Friday shopping. So I am liable to sit here in my chair, perhaps go to a movie, and enjoy my day in other ways.

As for my own attitude towards Christmas well....I am into the giving aspect. I do so as often  as I can. To family members, to friends in my various "activity groups" and more. Many of these  gifting situations are reciprocal, some are not.  And that is fine with me. While I also enjoy getting gifts the reward is in the giving. In fact, if someone were to ask me (not that anyone ever has mind you), I would suggest that the problem with holiday giving is not the giving, but the assumptions that 1. All gifts have to be equal among a family or group and 2. That every gift given is deserving of a gift in return of an equal kind of value. It is possible, for example,  for me to spend more money one one child on any given year dependent on needs and wishes.

Obviously everyone has different perspectives on Holiday giving and celebrations. The biggest number of comments I get on this blog and elsewhere on frugal Christmas gifting tend to be one of three. Some assume that because I am on a fixed income and gift, I automatically go into debt.  Never. I don't use a CC. Others wonder how I afford it and/or how my family and friends react to handmade gifts. The short answer is that most of them are thrilled and the long answer is probably deserving of it's own missive.

The biggest comment I get on holiday giving always has to do with "Jesus being the reason for the season" and Christian values. To those folks I simply say that I am a devout Episcopalian who goes to church twice a week and is taking a four year long masters level class on the history and cultural tradition of the bible-and I see no conflict in giving or exchanging gifts on any level. The problem, of course, arises when we get into the " Well, he got me this and I think it costs fifty dollars so I need to go spend fifty dollars" or "I spent fifty dollars on my daughter and all I got was a thank you".  If you get my drift....

This year, as always, my gifting is a combination of made by me gifts, experience gifts, gift cards and gifts purchased after reading a wish list.  How many gifts am I sending out?  In my case I buy gifts for my two kids and my Denver family contingent of six people. I also participate in a gift exchange with my Dallas family, participate in gift exchanges with some groups I belong to, give two large charity gifts, and exchange small gifts with a couple of other groups.  

To some folks the above list is huge, to others the number is small-I have a couple friends with grandchildren in the numbers of ten or so, for example. We all have different giving needs and traditions. I would only say that my Christmas giving is by choice and if I wanted to opt out of any of the above I could. I enjoy the process and preparation.

And of course it's also fair to say that I don't have other Christmas expenses that retirees may have. I have not hosted a Christmas or Thanksgiving celebration or party or family dinner in almost seven years and it works for me. (Although I may have suggested that a cookie exchange party might be a new tradition for my church).

Today I ordered almost all of my physical gifts from the evil empire that is  It will all come at once, the shipping will be free, and no store visits will be required. There will be a few items I will purchase at my local individually owned stores. I've already begun the Christmas baking journey with frosted eggnog cookies (I love baking or it would not get done), and part of this weekend will be spent making cloth napkin sets for family, and knitting a scarf for a family member.

We all have our own Christmas traditions. Mine includes church, charity and family. It also includes giving. My own personal Christmas no longer includes much entertaining, going into debt, or shopping at the mall. 

It works for me.

And since the greatest comments I have on handmade/homemade and experience gifts have to do with cost and acceptance by others, I hope to go out of the retirement zone a bit and add a third blog post east week on giving on the cheap-in retirement or any time.

Meanwhile-enjoy your weekend. And get out and walk of that pie (or pies)!!!


  1. Enjoy your blog. I need to walk some pie off.

  2. I make most of the gifts we give for holidays, and people seem to enjoy them all, or at least they tell me so. We give our sons money and a gift that I have made or a rather inexpensive gift that I buy. This year I may restock their first aid kits a bit, being male they don't always worry about things like that.

    God bless.

  3. Haven't gotten to Christmas yet ... still digesting that turkey!

  4. Have found my approach to how much and what I do for Christmas gifts has varied over the years dependent on my circumstances and that of those I'm gifting.

  5. Barb, I'm with you when it comes to getting gifts of different value for recipients. I'm more concerned with getting the individualized "perfect" gift than gifts of equal value. Gift giving in my family has changed over the years but it usually involves a mix of experiences and tangible gifts, both purchased and homemade (often food). I remember a post of yours that referenced something to wear, something to listen to, something to read? The most important thing is that we get together with good intention, good eats and drinks, and some good fun.

  6. I enjoy your posts, always interesting information.We keep Christmas simple, decorations and gifts. I'm also Episcopalian, we enjoy the greening of the church.


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