The average household will go into some sort of debt in order to keep up with their ideas of providing a good Christmas for their children. In stable economic times, it took most people six months to pay off their Christmas debt and many, around 1 in 4 according to some statistics, will still be paying off their debt by the time the next Christmas rolls around.

Part of the problem is we often feel that we must compete for our children’s affection. For example, divorced parents will often try to buy their children’s attention and love by purchasing bigger and better toys than their former spouse does, or even reducing discipline and eliminating rules to try to win their children’s affection over the other parent.

On a more subconscious scale, we do the same thing for Christmas regardless of our family situation. We feel the pressure to put as many presents under the tree as we can. We compete with our society, other family members, our neighbors, and other parents of other kids during the Christmas season. Setting aside the fact that we have missed the entire purpose of Christmas—that of a Saviour born to take away our sins and provide a way to Heaven—we have turned Christmas into a materialistic means of promoting greed and selfishness.

For some reason we feel that we are lousy parents if we do not provide a good Christmas for our children. The problem lies in what we perceive to be a ‘good’ Christmas. For most, that means material items under a tree. But why does this have to constitute a good Christmas? Why do we have to compete with those around us? Why do we feel lousy if our kid doesn’t get the toy that the neighbors’ kid got?

There is a better way than going into debt!


This Christmas give your children the greatest gift that you could possibly give them…your time. Think about it, it is not the toys you got as a child that you most remember. It is the time you spent with loving parents. If you never had time with those loving parents, that is most likely your greatest regret from childhood.

A well thought out and planned Christmas can generate fonder memories than any present under the tree could. One of the things I most remember about Christmas never happened on Christmas day. It was going to the mountains and cutting down a Christmas tree. I can probably only name one or two presents that I ever received under a tree. But I can regale you with stories of cutting down Christmas trees in the mountains! I remember Christmas caroling (although I hated to sing) more fondly than any present. I remember the time spent with my parents.

We spend too much money and not enough time on Christmas. If you want a better Christmas, spend less money and more time with your children!


  1. Wrap a huge box in wrapping paper. Inside have a smaller box wrapped in paper and so forth until you have a very small box with a piece of paper inside. On the paper, write something like this: “One Free Hour of Wrestling with Daddy.” The paper can say fishing, playing a sport, and for girls doing makeup or her hair with mommy. Get creative!
  2. Take your family into the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree. This may cost you a small amount of money, but eliminate some presents to do it. There will be fonder memories of that than any present.
  3. Conspire as a family to make someone else’s Christmas memorable. Have your children sneak onto the front porch of a friend or of a family in need and have them ring the door bell and flee before anyone answers it. Leave a wrapped present behind for someone in the family. If you can, do it again at the back door some time later. Your children will have so much fun doing this!
  4. Go Christmas caroling.
  5. Always bring Jesus into Christmas. I remember the Christmas stories read before opening the presents.
  6. Start new traditions that involve the entire family.
  7. Christmas morning before the kids all get up, hide a few of the presents. This will turn finding their gifts into a treasure hunt for the kids. Split up into teams with children working with parents to find a present based on clues. Your kids can get involved by hiding presents for their parents.
  8. Make decorating for Christmas unique and enjoyable.
  9. Fun and enjoyable Christmas pranks that make people laugh (not get embarrassed) are more memorable than merely opening presents.
  10. Make Christmas gifts for others. Spending time with your family, especially your children, to make a gift will provide good memories. If you have experience in wood working, crafting, carving, sewing, knitting, metal working, or graphic design, you can crate gifts that will provide lasting memories.

Ultimately, the memories of Christmas will center around what you do together, not what is under the tree. The mistake that so many people make is to assume that a good Christmas is dependent upon the number of expensive gifts that you can put under a tree.

Even for married couples, a voucher for 10 ‘passionate kisses to be redeemed upon request’ may be just as good a present as a diamond necklace. Done right, the kisses will be much more memorable than the necklace.

Try to spend ‘time’ with your family this Christmas and you might just make it the best Christmas you ever had!

Author's Bio: 

Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.

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