I don’t own any Christmas decorations.

Actually, now that I think of it, I don’t own any decorations. I don’t decorate for the holidays, I don’t change out my towels to match the season, I don’t even own seasonal candles. I’m holiday-less across the board.

Is that a bad thing?

Americans spent a whopping six billion dollars on Christmas decorations in 2011, which is a lot of money when you’re young, poor, and stupid (like me). When you’re in young and/or in college, skipping the holiday hoopla can be easy, as ‘the holidays’ still involve going home and eating fruitcake. But when you’re on your own, living with a partner, and trying to establish your own routine? There’s a big push for doing it the ‘right way.’ Here are some thoughts on when you should or shouldn’t go along with that push


If you’re not hosting Christmas, you don’t need a tree. It doesn’t matter how affordable a plastic tree is, or how easy it is to set up. If it’s not in your budget, you don’t need to stretch for it. That also means you don’t need lights, ornaments, model trains, or the rest of the paraphernalia. Christmas isn’t about that.

For Jana and I, we still celebrate Christmas with our families, which means a giant road trip back home in bad weather. We’re not in a position to truly appreciate having a Christmas tree or decorating our house for the season. Given the likelihood of us moving again within the next year, burdening ourselves with the clutter and expense of Christmas decorations doesn’t make sense, and that’s okay. We might buy some seasonal candles, once they hit the clearance section, but that's pretty much it.


If you live in a neighborhood, you’re expected to do something for Halloween. Yes, the candy is ‘cheap,’ yes it’s ‘all for the kids,’ yes there’s typically snow in our region by then. Perhaps if Jana didn’t work nights and I wasn’t a crotchety old man, we’d spend some money for the sake of the kids. But have you seen the decorations they’re pushing for Halloween these day? Americans spent almost seven billion dollars on the holiday, filling their yards with inflatable spiders, cheap fog machines, and decorating their eaves with Christma-err, Halloween lights to the tune of $74 per household.

We might do something for Halloween in a year or two, once we’ve accepted the fact that we really are that domestic, but we'll be making most of our decorations by hand.

Valentine’s Day

Alright, this isn’t so much of a decorating thing as it is a budgeting thing. Valentine’s Day is the one day a year that you know everything you want to buy your partner is going to cost way too much. The chocolate’s marked up. The flowers are marked up. The jewelry is marked up. For Bard’s sake, you’d swear they charge more for condoms on Valentine’s. Care to guess how much the average American spends on this holiday? $133.91. That's a hell of an evening out.

If you want to do something special for/with your partner, do it when it fits your budget, not the annual ad cycle. Don't assume that the most romantic thing you can do is the most expensive, either.

How do you hack the holidays? Let us know!