Feelin’ Frugal: Finding Contentment in my Christmas Tree

As I put the finishing touches on our Christmas tree this past weekend, I said to Nate, “Well this is pretty much the exact kind of Christmas tree that I hate.”

I love the look of white lights on a color coordinated tree.  The ornaments don’t all need to match, but I really appreciate a tree with some kind of order or theme.  In years past that was exactly the kind of tree we had.

The only downside to that tree was that it was barely two feet tall.  Our living was too crowded to justify spending money on a large tree, so we thankfully accepted a 2 foot hand-me-down and used it for years.

Last Christmas was our first year in the new house, which came with plenty of room for a full size tree.  However…

We decided to use our 2 foot beauty another year and look for a good sale on trees after Christmas.  I could bore you with the details of why we didn’t buy one after Christmas, but instead I’ll sum things up: We decided we didn’t want to spend the money.

Our waiting paid off in the end and we were blessed with a free tree a few months later.  It isn’t the pre-lit, tall beauty we were hoping for, but it really does look pretty nice.  So here is our tree…

It has 1 string of colored lights because that was all we had in the house.  Do you know how pathetic 1 string of lights looks like on a Christmas tree that size?  It is filled with ornaments from my childhood.  They are not matchy-matchy and some are plain ugly, but my daughter has loved exploring the tree.

Nate and I could have spent money on the perfect tree, filled it with hundreds of lights, and decorated it with beautiful color coordinated ornaments.  Instead, we decided that our money was better spent on other things.  We decided that Christmas isn’t about having an ideal tree.  We decided to find contentment in “the exact kind of tree that I hate.”

Where do you choose to find contentment during Christmas?


  1. LOVE the tree! We did the tiny (though 4′, not 2′!) pipe cleaner tree for years. A couple years ago, we splurged and spent $20 on a 6′ prelit tree at Kmart. We cover it in a mish-mash of ornaments from childhood. We’re continuing by buying and making ornaments each year with our boys!

    This year, I am choosing to be content with the unknown. With not being all decorated. We don’t know when this baby will come. At this point, I am unable to do much in the way of decorating. There are no lights up outside.

    Rather than focusing on what we WON’T have this Christmas, we are focusing on building memories and building anticipation through advent traditions.

    1. It can be hard to let go of traditions, can’t it? Even if they are the most simple ones like putting up lights. One year we didn’t send Christmas cards because we went on a 2 week mission trip right after Thanksgiving. Something had to give that year and that is what I chose, but it was HARD! I even sent an email to the people we would normally send cards to and apologized.

      Looking back, it wasn’t a big deal at all and Christmas was NOT ruined. Still it can be hard in the moment.

      I really hope you are able to enjoy your Christmas moments despite the unknown and having to let go.

  2. After the tree is decorated (I agree that the best ornaments don’t match, but are those from our childhood and our childrens’ childhoods) we turn out all the other lights, put on some Christmas music, share a cup of hot chocolate (with a candy cane stirrer, of course) and talk about what we have been thankful for in the past year and what our ‘best times’ were. It kind of makes all those other gifts not so important after all.

  3. My kids were so excited about decorating the tree, and the oldest is almost tall enough to get ornaments all the way to the top . . . so I let them have at it. They were so into it, and I didn’t even have time to add the cranberry strings that I love and now it would be too hard to put them on with all the ornaments, so I’m just being content with our totally-kid-decorated tree.

    How’s that for a run-on sentence?

    1. Nony, you can leave run-on comments on my blog anytime. 🙂

      Unrelated: I’m reorganizing/purging a storage area of my house and often remind myself “Do the easiest thing first” when I start to feel overwhelmed. Thanks for such a simple, but brilliant tip. Also………. I found a $25 gift card. Last month I found a $40 one. I love being rewarded for cleaning, but clearly I need to do a better job of keeping track of my gift cards!

  4. Our tree is small and simple. I made some homemade ornaments and put on other ornaments that I got for free. I remind myself that Christmas isn’t about decorations but about Christ and then the tree doesn’t look so bad ;).

  5. Your tree is beautiful and soon will be filled with ornaments made by the childen, making it beautiful beyond belief.

  6. The miss-matched trees are the best. I have always hated the “perfect tree.” Trees with themes don’t scream family, they scream commercialism. There’s no warmth in that kind of tree. We have a miss-matched tree and it ROCKS!!!

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