Simple Christmas

simplechristmasDH and I are enjoying a simple Christmas this year.

After handing out frugal presents and cards to our extended families a few weeks ago at the Thanksgiving celebration we’ve had a very laidback season.   Tonight we are finally putting up a tree with my beloved ornament collection and we already have a pile of presents to go underneath it.  Several presents came from family but DH and I also purchased many presents for one another this year respecting a low spending limit.  We love to drink hot cocoa, put on Christmas music, and setup the tree together one ornament at a time.

We have received a few holiday cards in the mail and have them setup around the kitchen in different places where we can read them over the next few weeks.  I did not send cards to everyone on our list this year.  Last year I sent cards out to an entire mailing list of over 100 people because we had just gotten married.  I spent so much money in cards and stamps at the post office 3 separate times to send cards before the wedding, after the wedding and at the holidays.  Instead, we are trying to slowly reconnect in person over the phone with a few friends we don’t get to talk to often to have meaningful holiday contact.

We’ve been listening to holiday music here and there over the last few weeks and watching a few new Christmas movies each week from our home collection.  We keep those in the closet year round but we took them out at Thanksgiving this year and started in on them then.  We already own 5 or 6 classic holiday movies and we rented a few new ones with our inclusive video store membership.  We also went to see “Four Christmases” at the theater this week 😉

We rejected 3 holiday party offers this year because we didn’t feel like dressing up and using our few days off each week to do parties.  We did have a small get together with friends a few weeks ago and watched a rental, played video games and ate pizza.  That’s how we felt we wanted to celebrate with those close to us this year.  See that post on cheap entertaining.

We’ll be hanging stockings and exchanging gifts on one night about a week from now but unfortunately we’re both working for the actual holidays.

Here’s to our simple, stressfree Christmas!

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Public Service Announcement: Child-free couples and the holidays

Celebrating during the holidays without children is a mixed blessing.  While it’s lovely to enjoy a peaceful, quiet fire and a cup of cocoa alone with the one you love or open more expensive presents (should you choose) than your family-friendly peers, it can also be a very difficult time and a test of strength and patience.

couplefire 

 I find it particularly difficult when the subject of children comes up during the holidays at extended family parties, during worktime with colleagues and clients around, or even among friends or families with children.  Thoughtless comments are made again and again.  I want to shout “Honestly, it’s none of your business.” at people by the end of the day sometimes. 

So please, on behalf of the childfree and childless among you this holiday season:

-Don’t ask couples without children when they’re planning on children or if they’re “planning on children” in the near future

-Don’t ask couples without children “if they’re expecting” because you find someone’s eating habits peculiar

-Don’t nag about how they “haven’t brought home any grandchildren/nieces/nephews yet”… especially while they’re holding a baby during the family dinner

-Along those lines, don’t remark “what wonderful parents they would be” and wink knowingly

And please…

-Don’t assume that they prefer every night to be a quiet, peaceful night alone at home and DO invite them to join in activities without making CHILDREN AND FAMILY the focus of holiday celebrations. 

This can be an isolating time of the year for couples without children.  Assuming you know and understand the circumstances surrounding someone’s child”less”ness can be dangerous and hurtful.  If they’re polite and nonconfrontational, you may not know how offensive your comments were, particularly at this time of the year…

DINK

Cheap Entertaining

DH and I had some friends over last night and shared in a bit of frugal “potluck entertainment” with them.

pizza

One friend brought a movie.  Another friend brought soda.  Another friend brought chocolate chip cookies.  We provided pizza and festive holiday bottles of grape juice (I couldn’t resist them!).  We talked about our jobs, watched a movie, and then played video games for several hours.  It was a lot of fun and everybody spent less than $10 to come.

Other ideas for cheap entertaining include:

-board game nights with friends

-video gaming nights with friends

-murder mystery nights with friends (we haven’t done this yet but hope to!)

-wine and cheese parties (everyone can bring one of each)

-cookie exchange parties (everyone brings several dozen of their own with recipes and then trades)

-pool parties (not recommended in the winter in cooler climates but usually someone has a pool, in our case it’s us, and it makes for a nice setting to have people over to visit during the summer)

Enjoy your friends without spending a bundle this holiday season!

DINK

Starbucks Gingersnap Latte

warms my heart and soul 🙂

sbux1

For anyone who is curious, this drink is slightly different than the Gingerbread Latte they previously served but just as tasty and wonderful.  DH and I enjoyed these on our weekly date this week.  Ah, the holiday season is here!

Quality Time

DH and I have been talking about how we can increase our quality time together.  We are taking a break from classes this semester and feel as though we have a lot of free time.  We’ve squandered much of it (together of course!) playing video games, watching movies, and reading books.  While we’ve enjoyed this time a lot we’re wondering whether or not we might be better served to cancel some of the services (netflix and the like) that distract us from one another and refocusing our efforts on physical time together.

There was a time in our engagement when we had no rental movies, no bookstores, and few video gaming options.  We spent more time together holding hands, making out and… well, physically being together.  At the time it’s what we really wanted.  We’d like to rekindle some of that but notice that our time off now is being filled by other passive interests.  Even though we’re watching a movie or playing a game together, it’s not the same as being completely without media interference.

Pottery Barn makes me feel inadequate

Every few months I receive a Pottery Barn catalog.  We receive quite a few catalogs and most of them trigger similar feelings of inadequacy.  Williams Sonoma, JCrew, and even the occasional Sears catalog can trigger feelings of doubt.  The truth is, if we had the house, the kids, and the dog we’d likely never recreate the Pottery Barn experience in our daily lives (notice how the wall paint nearly always matches the holiday they are decorating for!) satisfactorily. 

I fear it would be a rare day but here is the kind of daily fantasy that these catalogs trigger for me…

It is the late afternoon and the children and I emerge from the spotless kitchen in matching aprons to greet daddy at the door with freshly made pumpkin cream cheese muffins and fresh pressed apple cider.  Then we all go out in the yard and rake leaves in front of our home decked out with scarecrows, pumpkin and straw bales.   We come inside and I pull the casserole out of the oven and place it on the marble island while the children help set the table and pull the side dishes out of the double door stainless steel fridge.  We have a leisurely meal together and discuss our days at work and school.  We help the children with their schoolwork after dinner and possibly play a family board game.  Before bed, everyone lays out their freshly pressed clothes, lunches and backpacks for the next day.  Everyone brushes their teeth and takes showers without any fuss.  My husband and I spend some quality time together, alone, and possibly share a glass of chianti before retiring to our california king bed with perfect corners.  The house is clean, the laundry baskets are nearly empty, and the breakfast table is already set.  It’s about 10 pm and we’re ready to sleep.

I know from friends, relatives, and anonymous online blogs that this is a fantasy.  This is why I worry that DH and I could never manage kids.  I think this image would be shattered and we would always feel like failures for not making this happen.  And, without children, we sometimes feel inadequate and different from our family and peers.  Catalogs like pottery barn often trigger these emotions.

Cheap Date

 

Here’s a “cheap date” idea:

The day started with a walk to get coffee.  It was a sunny day and it was enjoyable to hold hands and talk about life as we walked calmly to get to our destination.  We’d received a coffee card last month and had coupons so the coffee was completely free!  An alternative would have been to brew a few cups at home and carry them!  Very tasty.  Then we had about a half hour to spare before the next part of the date, so we walked around the parking lot and looked for spare change.  DH found a penny.  I’d found 6 cents the day before- gotta keep your eyes peeled all the time I tell ya! 

We also used this time to stop into a pharmacy and picked out cards for one another that we thought were cute.  We didn’t buy them- just showed them to each other and kissed 🙂 

Finally we rented a movie (we have a movie store pass- no cable!) and went home to watch it.  Alternative would be picking out a cable movie, watching a favorite movie on VHS, or renting from the library (free!) together.

I’m a cheap date- what can I say?