How to Avoid Materialism Without Being a Scrooge

Today’s post is by Catherine Alford!

I’m just going to come right out and say it.

I’m a total Scrooge around the holidays.

I don’t know why, but I’ve never been the type of person who starts decorating in October or gets excited about baking gingerbread cookies with family.

I just see the holidays as a big waste. When everyone piles into big box stores to save $10 on toasters the day after Thanksgiving, I’d like to be as far away from them as possible.

Of course, I know there are many more ways to avoid the materialism of the season without being a total Scrooge, so here’s what I’ll be working on instead.

Watching Holiday Movies

I can’t argue with the fact that I love watching movies. There’s nothing better than curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and losing yourself in a film. Christmas movies can definitely get me into the spirit, and there are so many classics.

You don’t even have to buy them because you know they’ll be playing all month long on TV anyway. It’s a great and cheap way to enjoy the season without spending a lot of money.

*Lance’s Note: Make sure to check out It’s a Wonderful Life! It is a great classic on TV every year!*

Volunteering With Those In Need

There’s nothing that can conquer materialism better than a reality check. Since the holidays are a time of giving, I think it would be really nice to volunteer my time somewhere.

Whether I help give out gifts to military families or volunteer at a soup kitchen, spending some time with people who need some cheer will help me to remember the reason for the season.

Looking at Christmas Lights

I’ve always enjoyed looking at Christmas lights ever since I was a little girl.

I even convinced my husband to take me on one of those “tacky lights tours” when we lived in Richmond. We drove by all of the “extreme” houses, like the ones with the millions of lights (and the $1,000 electric bill I’m sure).

I think the lights are kind of pretty and sometimes just plain funny. It’s free to do, and it’s the opposite of being materialistic. Basically, you are getting free entertainment from those who love the season best.

Listening to Christmas Music

Listening to some tunes is a really good way to bring the holiday spirit into your home. You can stream it for free with Internet radio, and it fills the whole house with some fun.

Even a Scrooge like myself can’t help but crack a smile when Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer comes on.

There’s just something so happy and chipper about Christmas music, and since it’s an activity that doesn’t revolve around shopping and excessive spending, I enjoy it.

Of course, I’m sure there are many other ways to get into the holiday spirit without shopping. Even small things like drinking a cup of hot chocolate or painting your nails in a bright red color will put you in the Christmas mood.

Come to think of it, I’ll probably try both of those too…

Are there any other Scrooges out there? What are you doing to embrace the holiday spirit?

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About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. She enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog,


  1. Some might call me a scrooge. I enjoy the music and the lights and all, but I think the shopping craziness is just ridiculous.

  2. I wouldn’t identify myself as a Scrooge, but I don’t really enjoy all the parties that seem to occur at this time of year. Typically, there is the company (old days) party for me and my wife, friend’s parties and various home visits too. It all surrounds food which is a mine field since it is soooo good! I do enjoy having the family get togethers, but I would gladly skip the rest.

  3. It’s so nice to go out with the family every once in awhile and see all of the lights. I really enjoy that and it definitely gets me in the Christmas spirit without costing lots of money. There is also something so great about giving back to the community.

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