15 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays without Spending a Dime
“It’s all about presents to you kids, isn’t it!!? You all wanna wake up Christmas morning, run down to the tree at light speed, you grab the biggest package that you can, you tear it open, you pop your hand in, and you pull out a dream come true. Well I got news for you kids. In the real world, you hang up a stocking, and the next morning you find it filled to the brim with JACK SQUAT. Wanna know why?? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SANTA CLAUS!!” – Matt Foley, Motivational Santa
I think Matt Foley is onto something. Maybe Christmas really isn’t about Santa and presents? Granted, scaring innocent youth out of their holiday joy is a little extreme (although it shows up on the list twice more, yikes—see numbers 7 and 14), but we have a lesson to learn from Motivational Santa. It’s hard not to get spanked by the material tidal wave that is the American holidays, but what if we take a step back to enjoy the subtle joys of the season? Just because us millennials are livin’ in a proverbial van down by the river does not preclude us from experiencing what the holidays are actually all about.
This year, I will spend less than $200 on holiday presents, decorations, and activities. Now, I’m not trying to make you feel bad, because this is mostly a product of my situation—and I’ve been known to drop a dime on the holidays. (I’m a sucker for a good white elephant—anal bleaching or a five-foot Samurai sword, anyone?) But this year, I have made the decision to put money into my Roth IRA instead of spending a bunch, and you know what? My friends and family totally understand. This might sound like a bummer sitch to some of you, but wanna know what I’m not lacking? THAT SWEET & SUCCULENT HOLIDAY SPIRIT, YA’LL!! And really, removing myself from the game has left me the opposite of holiday stressed.
I want to share the Dumpster Doggy-Motivational Santa ways I’ve been enjoying the season for free. What are yours? Post in the comments below, and I will pick my favorite to receive a $50 coffee or Barnes and Noble gift card (or Powell’s, if you’re in Portland)!!
1. Watching holiday-themed SNL skits! Chris Farley as Motivational Santa will always be my favorite, but I’m also a fan of Debbie Downer—Naughty and Depressing, Dick in a Box, Christmas Miracle (or anything with Kate McKinnon), Stefon on holiday travel, NPR’s Delicious Dish, Wrappinville, Back Home Ballers and here’s a bonus Will Ferrell as a newer, hipper, more badass Santa for ya. Case CLAUSED.
2. Reaping the benefits of other peoples’ obsession with the holidays. You know people are going balls deep in Christmas, so all you gotta do is find ’em! Here are two of my favorite ways to do this in Portland:
Everyone goes nuts for the lights at Slammer Tavern, but I’m partial to the 200-nutcracker spread (and my cute best bud, Steph):
Stumbled across this national treasure the other day. Apparently, this Patron Saint of Holiday Joy has 300 antique Santa lanterns. Ho Ho Holy shit:
3. Speaking of enjoying how crazy/creative people celebrate the holidays, I love to see what The Gay Beards cook up for Christmas. Check out their Instagram account! Over and over again. I could look at these darling Portlandians all day.
4. Watching someone from work get too drunk at your holiday party. There’s always one, and hopefully it is not you and hopefully it is someone in management with lots of authority. That’s always the most fun.
5. Finding the time and having an excuse to be creative. Let those spiked-eggnog juices flow! Check out this rad jacket I made for my sister!
6. Shagging on a shag carpet in front of a fireplace. Have some freaky holiday sex, people—it’s the best way to truly be in the moment. Does anyone have a fireplace and a boyfriend I can borrow?
(Not an advertisement for Burger King, just think he’s delicious.)
7. PERSONAL FAVORITE ALERT!! Admiring pictures of my friends’ children freaking the fuck out while on Santa’s lap. From I-just-witnessed-a-murder to I-just-got-bit-by-a-poisonous-rattlesnake, these little faces bring me inordinate levels of happiness.
(For the protection of these little monsters, I will not use names—but each of these darlings is a daughter to one of my best friends. Thank you, Carlee, Chantel, Lara, and Nicole + partners for creating these entertainment vessels for Aunt Mandi.)
8. People-watching at the mall or WalMart. You don’t have to spend money to enjoy seeing the crazy things people do with it.
9. Potlucks at work. Workplaces love to go all overboard during the holiday season, and nothin’ brings the Dumpster Dog joy like free grub. FYI, it does not have to be your team’s potluck. Keep your ears to the ground and swoop when the time is right.
10. Busting out in song and dance when your favorite holiday song comes on, no matter where you are. When Feliz Navidad came on at Freddie’s the other day, I tore the cereal aisle ARRIBA.
11. Decorating the tree with the shitty ornaments you made in grade school. Paper snowflakes for an added touch. Here is my sister’s magnum opus, a festoon tissue paper eruption:
12. Getting harassed by my aunt, Diamond Dee, for not having a boyfriend and listening to her talk about my baby-making parts like it is strawberry Dannon that’s been in the fridge too long—clearly past its use-by date. One year, she asked me if I “ever even have animal urges” (as if I can’t take care of those without being married). She is bonkers, and I love it. Family time is a brilliant spectacle.
13. Witnessing other peoples’ joy on Christmas. Not tryin’ to fudge with my street cred, but this made me cry.
14. Celebrating Krampus. Did you know that there is a half-goat, half-demon that scares kiddos into bein’ good for fear he will whisk them away for some mild torture? Yup. His name is Krampus. He’s delightfully strange Nordic lore that’s making a comeback. If you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch The League’s Season 4, Episode 12, “A Krampus Karol.”
15. Enacting kindness. Random, planned, IDGAF. Being kind to those around us enriches us as much as it enriches those we help.
Well, there you have it. I made a holiday-themed listicle. Check that off the naughty list of things I’ve made people suffer through. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.
Your turn! What is your favorite way to enjoy the holidays without spending any moolah? Post in the comments below and the winner will receive a $50 gift card for caffeine or brain power.