7 Holiday Traditions to Help Avoid Christmas Debt

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Statistics prove materialism is out of control in the US, as total American credit card debt amounts to $784 billion. Per household, credit card debt is equal to nearly one-third of income, leaving many families beholden to credit card companies for years.


It’s time Americans reflect on their relationship with money and excessive consumerism – and there’s no better time than the holidays, when rampant materialism is encouraged with Black Friday propaganda and pressures to buy loved ones the perfect gift to show them that you care.


Christmas Debt Statistics

According to various studies conducted on U.S. Christmas Spending from 2018-2022:

  • The average American household spends around $1,500 on Christmas every year, with ~70% of this going toward gift purchases. This number has increased every year for nearly a decade.
  • Americans spend between $4-6 billion annually on Christmas trees alone.
  • Over 20% of Americans believe their holiday spending will result in Christmas debt, and over 40% are willing to take on Christmas debt if they have to in order to buy gifts.
  • Nearly 15% of Americans are willing to sell their belongings to pay for holiday spending in order to avoid Christmas debt.


Tips for Avoiding Christmas Debt

Instead of racking up Christmas debt to stack presents under the tree, bring the family closer with these 7 alternative Christmas traditions:


  1. Donate to a charitable cause. Instead of purchasing gifts that may or may not end up in the donation bins next year, you can donate to charities and organizations that will make a lasting difference and avoid Christmas debt at the same time. Donate to charities that help children in need, such as Toys for Tots, UNICEF, and St. Judes, or to other nonprofit organizations, such as NPR, PBS, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).


  1. Volunteer your time. Volunteering is not only an exercise in altruism but a way to gain perspective on our own lives, to be truly thankful for what we have. Volunteering at soup kitchens for the homeless or pet shelters, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, or bringing gifts to sick children in hospitals are all great ways you can give back this holiday season.


  1. Have kids donate old toys, clothes, and books to a family in need. Rather than adding more stuff to their toy boxes, have your kids choose some old items to give to less fortunate children. This exercise will teach children to be less attached to material possessions while also providing others with joy & help the whole family avoid Christmas debt.


  1. Adopt a pet. There are millions of dogs, cats, and other pets in animal shelters waiting for their forever home. If you’re able, why not open your home to an animal in need?


  1. Prepare meals together and plan a big holiday feast. Instead of having the holiday revolve around the exchange of gifts, place the holiday feast at the center of your Christmas traditions. Preparing meals together and sharing the table will nurture closer family bonds and lasting friendships.


  1. Go all out with Christmas lights and decorations. Kids or no kids, decorations are a great way to get into the spirit of the holidays. This year, put enough lights up so your house can be seen from outer space, make (and then eat) a gingerbread house, or create your own Christmas tree decorations.


  1. Give small, meaningful gifts. For some families, getting Christmas gifts for each other has resorted to the exchange of shopping lists. Where’s the fun in that? To make gifts more meaningful, try giving small items that are attached to fond memories, such as a framed concert ticket or a souvenir from your travels together. Smaller, personalized gifts help in avoiding Christmas debt during the holiday season.


The pressures of buying the perfect gift can be overwhelming, perhaps causing you to take on debt just to make your loved ones happy. Instead, try one (or all) of these 7 Christmas traditions to help your family avoid the trap of materialism this season and add meaning to the holidays.


For those who went overboard this season, New Era may be able to help. New Era is a debt settlement company that helps people dramatically reduce their debt obligation to secure their financial independence. Since 1999, we have settled over $275 million in debt for our clients.


To see if debt settlement is right for you, contact us or fill out the form on this page for your free debt analysis.