Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

My Christmas not to-do list

December is a weird, expensive month for my family. Between Christmas and Hanukkah and the child’s birthday, all of our money goes away. We manage it the best we can but still. See you in January, cash, along with my sanity, organization, and clean(ish) house. 

That said, we do have some holiday traditions that, thankfully, are free or mostly free. Driving around to look at lights, decorating gingerbread houses (from a kit, usually purchased a Michael’s with a coupon. Please do not think I’m ambitious enough to make that shit from scratch), and watching The Muppets Christmas Carol. In fact, here’s our full list. It’s pretty much remained the same in the two years since I wrote it. 

But since I like balance, let’s talk about all the thing I do not do at Christmastime. 


  • Employ The Elf on the Shelf. First of all, it’s fucking creepy. Second of all, I’m way too lazy to remember to move the thing. Third, why am I going to make messes and projects that I’m going to have to clean up? 
  • Drink from Starbucks red cups. I hate Starbucks coffee. It’s disgusting. I’m not a fan of their hot chocolate either. And why am I going to pay $9 for a cup of hot tea simply because it’s in a red cup? Or spend 48 minutes in line waiting to spend $9 on tea in a red cup? I’m not. So I drink my candy cane tea from my Muppets mug instead and I don’t even have to leave my house. See also: eggnog. Why does it exist?
  • Send holiday cards. This is one of those “one day I’ll do it” things and finally I realized that no fucking way is it ever going to happen because I’m too forgetful and I lose addresses and like with the creeper Elf, lazy. I’m sorry, friends. I love you but no cards from me. 
  • Watch Love Actually. Confession: I’ve never seen it. I’m not really sure I care to. Don’t even know where to find it if I did want to watch it. See also: all the other Hallmark/Lifetime type Christmas movies. 
  • Wear holiday manicures. The closest I’ll come is some sparkly red nail polish I have. But snowmen or Santa hats or whatever the hell else ambitious people get painted on their nails? No and no.
  • Listen to Christmas music. This where it gets tricky. While I LOATHE most Christmas music, some of the nontraditional songs are pretty fun. My husband, however, enjoys all the songs so we compromise. I made a playlist mixed with both types and we listen to it on only two days: gingerbread house day and Christmas day. 
  • Attend an ugly sweater party. This implies that I’m going to attend a party and I’m 100% confident that is not going to happen. 
  • Have a cookie baking day. I make 3 ingredient microwave fudge and one type of cookie. It takes 20 minutes. That’s all I’m willing to spend. Besides, I work from home and I shouldn’t be left alone with peanut butter fudge and the husband works with 5 other people and last year, all the stuff I sent to his work got thrown away so fuck them. 
  • Encourage my child to wake up at 5AM to open presents. Mama needs her sleep. Don’t mess with that. 

I’m sure there more things that I don’t do and I’m sure I’ll think of it later. That’s pretty much the story of this time of year. 

How about you guys? Is there anything you don’t or won’t do around the holidays?


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  1. Kristin

    I actually do most of those things.
    However, I don’t like The Muppets in any form, so I’ve never seen that version of a Christmas Carol.
    Also, I loathe Christmas parties. We have FOUR this week. We vetoed one, so now it’s down to 3…. :/
    Ugly sweater parties always seem to go hand-in-hand with white elephant and that’s also just the worst. Like, holy waste of time.

  2. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually

    My family doesn’t really go in for the holiday movies either. I’d never even seen Elf until sometime last year. If I recall correctly, my parents rule about Christmas morning was 8am. We could open our stockings before then, and then we had to wait until 8 to wake them up for presents. Christmas with a family of adults is awesome because we all get up around 8, and then do stockings and then we have a leisurely breakfast while people shower and become human before we even get around to presents.

    I do like Christmas cards (currently trying to get Ryan and the dogs finagled into a photo session so I have something nicer to send than all our random Facebook pics from the year), but yeah. Acquiring addresses is a pain. And I love the idea of any fancy manicures but I have yet to get my nails done at any salon, with any materials, that I haven’t managed to chip and then pick off within 3 or 4 days (including gel), so I don’t see the point.

  3. Linda Sheridan

    We don’t buy many gifts. We give money. Grandchickens get a few but the money in their
    Accounts will be much appreciated when they get
    Older. Our married kids can buy what they want.
    I don’t decorate as much. Our social life has
    Been low key for years. Very nice!
    Love the spirit of the season but try to have it
    All the time.
    Love, Steph’s Momma!

  4. kathy @ more coffee, less talky

    ELF ON THE SHELF – don’t do it. we caved but also told Kayla that ours is a “nice” elf and doesn’t make messes. besides, I straight up told her that if he is messy, then out he goes…if we’re going to do this, might as well also make it easier on us, right?

    Love actually — meh. could’ve done without it.

  5. alyssa

    I happen to be a fan of some of Starbucks’ seasonal drinks this time of year, like the gingerbread latte and praline whatever thing and peppermint mocha–aka all coffees that I can’t replicate at home and are basically dessert, meaning once a season and not an every damn day thing. The cup itself does nothing for me. Do people actually place importance on the cup itself? Weird. (Also, agree: eggnog is disgusting.)

    I must report too that I love Love, Actually and watch it (and The Family Stone, and The Holiday, and Elf) every year if I can manage. I also get a kick out of the cheesy ABC Family Christmas movies, but Hallmark takes it way too far.

    I’ve never made a gingerbread house, and I don’t think I care too. I’m not much for baking so I leave the cookie extravaganza to my mother. I also don’t think I’ve ever participated in mistletoe and I haven’t had a tree in 4 years. I miss it, but not enough to cram one into a tiny apartment and vacuum up pine needles every day for a month.

  6. Allison

    Mine : shop on Black Friday or enter a mall during the weekend. I do most of my shopping online, but I do ONE day in stores with my mother. I take a weekday off and we go to the mall in Long Island so I can finish (or start, depending on the year I’m having) buying gifts. It’s still pretty torturous and crowded, but nothing like it is on say, a Saturday. HARD PASS. I cannot do crowds/lines.

  7. Brittany Pines

    I had never heard of Elf on the Shelf until recently…my husband mentioned maybe doing it for the kid when she gets older and I looked at him like he was crazy. The whole idea of that does not compute.

  8. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    Many things! All Christmas music all the time is a no no no for me. Same as all Christmas programming (TV or movies) or Christmas-themed books. Here I am, in December, reading about killers like always.

  9. Rebecca Jo

    haha – I love this.
    I wear red sparkly nails 90% of the year anyways so I can call it Holiday & just go with it making it looked like I tried.
    I don’t get the hubbub about Love Actually…. its not that great.
    Christmas has turned into such a THING lately, doenst it? All the pinterest holidays everyone wants. I’m like, let me sleep in on my day off work 😉

    Its expensive for us too – both the hubs & I have our birthdays from Christmas to New Years. Cram ALL THE THINGS in the last 2 weeks of the year. Ugh!

  10. Stephanie

    The elf is SUPER creepy, I don’t know why people think it’s cute. It’s not.
    Love Actually is on Netflix. Normally I do not like sappy movies but I actually really really like that one. I think it’s funny, and not too syrupy.
    I have had ugly sweater parties in the past. I like any excuse to get hammered and throw a party 🙂
    Not doing any baking this year but I do love hosting cookie exchanges (see above reasoning), maybe next year.

  11. Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue

    Elf on the Shelf, Holiday Manicures, Ugly Sweater Parties… Absolutely none of that is going to happen. Also – Encouraging the kids to get up at 5 am to open presents?!?! This is a thing?!?! Save me.
    I do send about 25 holiday cards and have been making some Christmas cookies, but this year we decided to pass on doing Christmas lights on the house. And the whole photos with Santa thing? NEVER.
    Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue recently posted…Five Favorites – November 2016My Profile

  12. Lauren

    So many of the things you choose not to do bring me such joy (like Love, Actually and my preferred Christmas music!) but I do hate all of the “have tos” that come with this season. I’m not a huge fan of decorating the tree, but my husband loves it so I do it primarily for him. I will never have the best Christmas lights on the block because it’s a lot of effort for something I rarely see. I will often intend to wrap more presents than I throw in bags, but bags will win out far too often because I procrastinate. Plus, cat hair gets in the tape and that’s gross.
    Lauren recently posted…thursday thingsMy Profile

  13. Mattie

    I’ve decided that I will never start sending Christmas cards so that I don’t have to continue. I feel like when you do it once, people expect it every year. I thought after we got married I’d want to do it, but after sending out thank you notes for the wedding and how much I hated that, NO THANK YOU.
    Also, my favorite Christmas song of all time is Christmas Wrapping which is super untraditional. After that is Last Christmas, which is definitely mainstream, but not really traditional. I definitely prefer those kinds, they are more fun!

  14. Maggie Squarepennies

    I’m with you on most of that. My decorating has changed. I used to cover every nook & cranny with Christmas stuff. Now I place a wreath on the front door and a few ornaments on the hall table. Then I add whatever I feel like/have time for as the month goes on. I do cards but very few, just to those who send to us. Seriously thinking of doing ecards! For $5 a month (can cancel anytime) I can send to as many people as I want. I’d probably send the same one to most people as I could just add their email addresses all on one order. Woo! Done!

  15. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I think that we’ve come to realize that we’ll never be the people that decorate Gingerbread houses during the holidays. We didn’t do it growing up, and I think that we’re too lazy to do it now! We are doing an Elf on the Shelf at the office, but I don’t think that I’d ever do it at home. I would totally forget to move him, and I’m not that creative!

  16. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    I had one of my friends explain Elf on the Shelf to me this weekend because that didn’t exist when I was a kid, so I was all confused about the fuss over him. He looks creepy and I’m not sure if teaching kids stalking is fun is really a good lesson but I digress. Some marketer, somewhere, is laughing in his/her millions of dollars while parents suffer everywhere! I like Love Actually but never really felt it was a “christmas” movie, at least not like Elf. I don’t do holiday fingernails but I don’t paint my nails so …. I would do a holiday pedicure if I stayed in LA. But my toesies are covered up in MN. 😀 I like receiving holiday cards but don’t like sending them. It’s a conundrum. Plus, do people really want a picture of me and Max? I just don’t know.
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…Three ThingsMy Profile

  17. kristen

    i don’t drink coffee but i do like starbuck’s hot chocolate… but they could put it in a plain white cup for all i care. my favourite part is the whipped cream. and the elf on the shelf is SO creepy. one day i might send holiday cards. haven’t yet, but maybe. i love Love Actually but that’s because i’m a sappy romantic idiot all year round, no christmas season or theme needed haha.

  18. texerinsydney

    What I do not do in December? I don’t recall ever making a gingerbread house. I don’t Starbucks. I drink tea, and I prefer to heat it myself. I hate Elf on a Shelf. I have never had egg nog and don’t need it now.

    Things I do (that you do not): send cards, watch Love Actually, listen to & enjoy *some* Christmas music, and I currently have green fingernails and red toenails (does that count?).
    texerinsydney recently posted…A Different Way to Celebrate DecemberMy Profile

  19. FF @ Femme Frugality

    Totally not into Elf on the Shelf. I do like Love Actually, but it’s been a long time since I sat disc to watch it. Obligatory holiday movie: It’s a Wonderful Life. Cry every time!
    FF @ Femme Frugality recently posted…Changing Your Money Mindset Will Change Your LifeMy Profile

  20. Donna Freedman

    I’d never seen an Elf on the Shelf until last year, and I found it entirely creepy.

    This year I’m flying to Phoenix on Christmas Day (leaving around 1 a.m.), so I’ll be opening gifts at around 3:30 or 4 p.m. at my daughter’s house. However, I’ll also be celebrating Russian Christmas with my partner in January, and inviting over a few friends to sing carols and eat cookies. Each will get a small gift.

    My partner is as frugal as I am and he believes he already has everything he wants/needs. Rather than tie ourselves into knots over holiday gifting, we’ve decreed that no present will be given unless there is a Stirring Tale of Thrift attached to it. (Hint: His Christmas gift is going to be something I brought home from FinCon16. Ditto his Russian Christmas present.)
    Donna Freedman recently posted…Roadie: Make that holiday trip pay for itself.My Profile

  21. Jenniemarie

    Same, except Starbucks. I enjoy me a peppermint mocha latte.
    Also, we watched a horror movie last night for family movie night so there’s that.


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