Sick of commercialism at Christmas? Tired of fainting at the December bills? Put the meaning back into Christmas and take the consumerism out of it and you'll find yourself enjoying Christmas without going broke.
Choose ritual and tradition over gift giving. Establish family rituals and traditions that honor the spirit of Christmas and involve all family members. It might be attending church as a whole family, it might be giving a meal preparation task to each member of the family, however young or old, or it might be writing heartfelt letters to one another describing how their acts of kindness have helped you through the year. Whatever your ritual (or set of rituals), place more emphasis on caring and sharing than trying to outdo one another with gift giving.
Avoid spending money you don't have. Don't go into debt for the sake of one holiday. You don't have to give expensive purchased gifts; instead, you can make a gift. Many people feel a homemade gift is better because it shows thought and consideration for the recipient. Give within your means, people will understand and you set an excellent example that liberates others from the consumer treadmill.
Gift ideas include: bookmarks, framed family photos you have taken over the year, holiday cookies or breads, or "cookie kits" (the flour, sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips and other spices are layered in a plain Mason jar, and instructions attached to a piece of raffia or a ribbon letting them know what to add, whether it's water, oil, egg, or whatever).
Learn some of the non-commercialized Christmas songs. There are some beautiful carols that you can sing together––maybe someone in your family or circle of friends can play the piano or guitar; if so, encourage them to play, and have a sing-along. Consider carols like "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Joy to the World," and "The First Noel." You can find the lyrics online if you don't know them.4
Mute the ads! Seriously, stop the "buy this, buy that for Christmas" ads from invading your home life. The consumer economy has its place but it's not in your living room during a sacred season. Teach kids to mute the ads and do it yourself. Or, record your favorite shows and fast forward your way through them. Everyone will feel greatly more at peace for it and there is less incitement to go shop till you drop.
Avoid blindly obeying the encouragement of retailers to make Christmas all about consumerism, as that is far from the true meaning, regardless of whether you're religious or not.