Religious or secular, the true spirit of Christmas has nothing to do with money. Being broke during the holiday season need not interfere with gift-giving or your happiness. Getting together with loved ones, creating your own gifts and decorations, and appreciating all that you already have are the best ways to enjoy Christmas, regardless of your finances.

Spend time with loved ones

The people in your life are what truly matters. Spending time with family and friends need not break your bank account, but is sure to improve your mood during the holiday season. When money is an issue, long distance travel is generally not an option. This does not mean you cannot connect, it just means you need to be a little more creative. Phone calls, letters and emails are all affordable ways to connect with loved ones during the holidays. Old fashioned hand written letters are an excellent way to reach out to the important people in your life and they make wonderful mementos. Just because you don’t have any extra cash doesn’t mean the people who care about you are in the same situation. Invite them to come to you for a weekend or an evening. Throw a potluck dinner party or a White Elephant Gift Exchange for those who live nearby.

Creative gift-giving & decorating

Money is not necessary for gift-giving or decorating for Christmas. Gifts of time, personal skills, and items you already have on hand can express your love just as well, if not better than mass-produced store-bought gifts. Gifts from the garden may include plant cuttings, flower bouquets, or canned produce. Gifts from the home can be items that family or friends have admired in the past. If you are a cook, baked goods, soup mixes, and cookies are always appreciated. If you have some money to spend, yard sales and thrift stores can provide unique gifts at little cost. As for decorating, a local pine tree can provide plenty of free pine cones and strings of popcorn make beautiful decorations that can later be put outside for local songbirds struggling to survive winter, costing you only pennies. Most families already own many Christmas decorations that can be used year after year without spending any money at all. Colored paper, tin foil and a few ribbons can be transformed into beautiful decorations that cost little or nothing.

Appreciate what you have

Depression is common during the holiday season. Rather than wallowing in thoughts about what you do not have, focus instead on the many blessings in your life. Gratitude is a great mood enhancer and money is not necessary for happiness. Christmas is an excellent time to think about your personal accomplishments, the people in your life, and your goals for the future.

It is easy to have a merry Christmas when you are broke if you look beyond the financial aspect of your life. Spend time with loved ones and reach out to old friends, create your own gifts and decorations, and appreciate the many good things in your life.