With Christmas drawing near, many people will be scratching their heads wondering how they’re going to stretch their money to be able to cover all the costs associated with the holiday. Are you one of those people? If you’re trying to save your pennies and are wondering how to do Christmas on a budget, here you’ll find 14 easy steps to help you save money this holiday season.
When did it all become so expensive? Whether it be buying gifts, getting the perfect decorations, or planning Christmas dinner, everything from food to presents seems to add up unreasonably fast.
The average American family will spend over $900 on Christmas gifts alone this year. I don’t know about you, but that high price just isn’t in our budget for Christmas gifts. Even if we did have a budget to spend that much on gifts, I still don’t think I could justify spending just shy of $1,000 on Christmas gifts for ONE year.
Every year my husband’s and my families seem to be growing and growing, so finding ways to lower our Christmas gift bills while buying gifts for more people every year can be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible, and I’ll share with you how to do Christmas on a budget below.
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HOW TO DO CHRISTMAS ON A BUDGET IN 14 PAINLESS STEPS
1. DRAW NAMES
One of the easiest ways to lower the cost of Christmas gifts is to draw names. Rather than buying everyone a gift, you simply write every person’s name on a piece of paper and put it into a basket, then each person draws a name from the basket and that is the person they buy a Christmas gift for.
As our families have grown this is something that we have started doing, and it has saved us a lot of money over the years.
2. HAVE A GIFT FREE CHRISTMAS
Of course, another great option is going back to the roots of Christmas and celebrating the real meaning of Christmas and simply enjoying time together with the family.
Rather than buying gifts this Christmas, consider having a gift-free Christmas and doing some other activities instead.
Have everyone bring a plate of their favorite Christmas goodies to Christmas dinner rather than gifts, or have a Christmas bake day with your whole family to bake the goodies while spending time together.
Maybe you want to start a family Christmas tradition. There are countless options of things that can be done rather than buying everyone Christmas gifts, and it’s one of the best ways on how to do Christmas on a budget.
3. START CHRISTMAS SHOPPING EARLY
If gifts are something you wouldn’t want to give up, a simple way to ensure you save money on Christmas gifts is to start shopping early. You can start shopping as early as the day after Christmas, for next year’s gifts.
If that is just a bit too early for you, consider starting your Christmas shopping in September, when prices of products haven’t been inflated yet, and some stores may even have awesome sales after the back to school rush is over, even on things that aren’t “back to school” items.
4. SHOP THRIFT STORES AND SECOND HAND
There is nothing wrong with shopping thrift stores and second-hand stores for gifts for your loved ones. Rather than going over budget and straining your finances this Christmas, consider shopping second-hand stores to keep costs down.
You may be surprised by the number of good-quality items that these stores have to offer, though you will most likely have to sift through a lot of junk before you find it.
Nonetheless, shopping thrift stores will help keep costs down, and it’s something you shouldn’t just do when shopping for gifts, either.
If you need new clothes, go to a thrift store before you head to the mall. Many thrift stores have name-brand clothes that are still in mint condition for a fraction of the cost. Simply take them home and give them a good wash before wearing them.
5. SHOP BUY AND SELLS
There’s a good chance that your town offers a buy and sell, or several. You can join buy and sell groups on facebook, or you can shop the buy and sell in your local paper.
Shopping the buy and sell is another really easy way to get a bargain on gifts. Many people have good-quality stuff that they are willing to let go of for a very decent price, just because they don’t want it anymore.
If you see something that you would like but is still more money than you had hoped to spend, bargain with the person who has it for sale and see if they will accept a lower amount for it.
Another great way to find exactly what you’re looking for – and save time -rather than sifting through tons and tons of ads is to simply put an add up saying what you are in search of and letting the people that have it contact you.
6. DON’T FALL FOR THE SALES
One of the reasons why many people end up spending so much money at this time of the year is because they fall for all those advertised sales.
Don’t be one of those people, stand strong – even if you see something that is exactly what you need, don’t buy and assume you’re getting a great deal on it just because it has a “sale” sticker on it.
Before falling for these sales, do your research. Look online and see if you can find that item for cheaper anywhere.
7. BUY ONLINE
Buying gifts and Christmas decoration online will save you money in a number of ways. First, it will save you money by taking you out of the temptation. When you go to the mall to buy gifts, it’s so easy to impulse buy, whether you’re falling for an advertised sale, or you see decorations that would be just perfect.
Shopping online allows you to search for exactly what you need, and only what you need, and buy it in a couple of clicks. You aren’t bombarded with dozens upon dozens of other stores all trying to take your money.
When you shop online you can as save money by shopping through Ebates. Ebates is a cashback website that will literally give you a percentage of cash back when you buy through their site. So, if you’re looking for something on Amazon, but you shop the Amazon website through Ebates, you will get a percent of cashback from your purchase. It’s also free to use.
It might sound confusing, but trust me when I tell you, it’s not confusing at all – and really, I would take spending that extra two minutes to create an account if it’s going to save me money on my purchase.
You can learn more about creating a free Ebates account here.
8. USE AMAZON PRIME
Speaking of Amazon, when you’re gearing up to do all your Christmas shopping would be the perfect time to sign up for a free Amazon Prime membership. They offer free 2-day shipping, additional sales that regular Amazon customers wouldn’t be eligible for, free movies and TV shows, and free music.
While after the 30-day trial period you have the option to continue with Amazon Prime by paying a monthly fee, if you decide that you don’t want to continue with them you can easily cancel your account before you ever have to pay.
So, you could create a free account and use it for 30 days to do all your Christmas shopping, then cancel it once the 30 days is up and you just got exclusive deals, free 2-day shipping, and free movies and music for a month.
You can learn more about creating a free Amazon Prime account here.
9. ONLY BUY WHAT YOU NEED
One thing to be especially aware of is the “add-ons” that stores and companies try to offer, especially around this time of year, and especially online.
If they notice you are buying some adorable Christmas tree ornaments, they may also try to get you to buy some Christmas lights that they claim go along with those ornaments perfectly.
Unless you really do need Christmas lights, and they are offering them for a good deal, avoid getting sucked into these add-ons at all costs – or else it will cost you a lot more than you intended on spending.
10. BUY IN BULK
If you’re a part of the large membership companies like Sam’s Club or Costco, consider buying your Christmas wrapping paper there to get the best bang for your buck.
A couple years ago I bought two rolls of wrapping paper from Costco, those two rolls were both reversible, so by just buying the two rolls, I ended up getting four different patterns of wrapping paper.
Not only did I get four different patterns for the price of two, but the rolls are also so large that they are going to last me many, many, many Christmases. I have already used them to wrap all my Christmas presents the past two years, and I barely made a dent in either roll.
You can also buy gift baskets from these stores, or if you are thinking of buying gift cards as a gift, be sure to buy them from these stores rather than going to the restaurant/store that you are buying the card for.
My husband and I bought two $100 gift cards from Costco just the other day and our total came to $154, rather than the $200 it would have been had we bought the gift cards directly from the store that they are for.
11. STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
It’s important that, no matter what, you spend no more than you can afford to. If you don’t currently have a budget, it’s time to create one. Then, after you’ve created your budget, you can then see exactly how much money you have available to spend on Christmas gifts.
This will ensure you don’t go into debt and it will be one of the best ways how to do Christmas on a budget.
12. MAKE HOMEMADE GIFTS
Making homemade gifts is one of my favorite things to do. Whether you buy some soft, Christmassy yarn and knit or crochet a beautiful toque, scarf or mittens, or you purchase some craft supplies to get started making your own homemade Christmas tree ornaments, there are endless options when it comes to making homemade gifts.
You can search the internet for ideas of simple homemade gifts. When you find the homemade gift that you want to make, be sure to keep in mind the cost of all the supplies you will need. If the supply list for the item is long and filled with expensive items, you would likely spend less money buying whatever it is you are planning on making than making it.
Related: 11 Adorable and Affordable Kids Toys You Can Make Out of Cardboard
13. MAKE A MEAL PLAN
When I think of Christmas expenses, the first thing that comes to my mind is the gifts, but another expense that adds up quickly is Christmas dinner and all the get-together meals that lead up to it.
An effective way to save money on Christmas dinner, and really any dinner, is to create a meal plan for it. Use a simple meal planning template, write down everything you want to have for the Christmas dinner, then write down all the ingredients you need to make the dishes.
Once you’ve filled out your meal plan and grocery listbe sure to shop your house before heading to the store. Go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry to see if you have any of the items on your grocery list and if you do, cross them off the list so you don’t buy doubles.
Then, if you make your meal plan early, you can keep your eye on the weekly flyers to see if any of the items you need come on sale and snatch them up for a good price.
Related: How to Meal Plan on a Budget – 13 Things You Need to Know
14. HOST A POTLUCK CHRISTMAS DINNER
Another way to save money on the ever-expensive Christmas dinner is to host it potluck style. Write down what you want to have at the Christmas dinner, then ask members of your family if they would be able to bring a dish to contribute to the dinner.
Someone could bring a salad, while another brings a dessert, and so on.
This will help lower the cost of Christmas dinner drastically and, since everyone has a different cooking style and technique, each dish will taste unique and different. It’s a win-win. This is one of my favorite ways of how to do Christmas on a budget. I love tasting everyone’s different dishes.
There are 14 solid ways how to do Christmas on a budget this year and for the years to come. Do you have some budget-savvy ways to save money on Christmas? I’d love to hear your tips and ideas!
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