Stores have been eager to remind us that the Christmas season is upon us! It seems like each year we are greeted earlier than ever with constant reminders of all the shopping we need to do, but what if you are on a tight budget?
Having grown up in a budget-conscious household with an ever growing family, we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks on celebrating the season with a practical Christmas budget.
Tis’ the Season
The first, and probably best, tip you can follow is to shop all year! If you know that you have the same few people on your list each Christmas, you can plan ahead and begin shopping early. Scour the clearance aisles, discount bins, and over-stocked stores where you can buy great items at deep discounts. Then, simply label the gift with the name of the person it’s for, and store it!
Another great idea? Shop the Christmas gift aisle the week or two following Christmas when items are marked first, half off, and then, as much as seventy five to ninety percent off the original price! Items like bath sets, makeup brush sets, ornaments (for ornament exchanges), mugs and other festive, seasonal items don’t expire! While buying items an entire year ahead might seem daunting, when you compare what you’d pay for those exact same items at a later date, the cost savings really begin to make sense. Again, remember to label your gifts!
Christmas Time is Anytime!
While most families celebrate their big get together on Christmas day, or Christmas Eve, consider celebrating the week after Christmas. Stores are rushing to offer deep discounts on decorations, gifts, and food to clear their inventory! Make it part of the fun to see what last minute gifts you can buy!
Checking it Twice
When shopping ahead, always keep a list and check it twice before you buy another Christmas gift! If you don’t keep a list, you may forget you already bought a present for someone, and then you buy for them again causing you to waste money. It’s also a good idea to keep notes on what you spent, so you can make sure you are sticking within your budget.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
That’s the sound of credit card debt and late payments! Make a commitment to do your Christmas shopping using a cash-only budget. Not only will it encourage you to stay within your budget, but it will also help you avoid interest, late payments and other nagging bills.
We Wish You A Smaller Shopping List!
Another simple, yet highly effective way to have a Christmas celebration on a tight budget, is to keep a smaller Christmas list! Nothing will break a Christmas budget like over-shopping. We shop for family, friends, neighbors, service providers, teachers and most anyone we think may give US a gift! While it may be hard to know where to start with who to trim off your shopping list (we don’t want to hurt any feelings), after a while our list gets longer and longer and includes dozens of people! Try starting with those in your house and then, if you wish, expand to include only those family members you will visit over the holidays or those you can’t bear to not include. If someone unexpected gives you a gift, don’t stammer a reply about a return gift, give them a heartfelt thank you and include them on your Christmas card list for the next year!
If you can’t stand the thought of cutting ANYONE off your list, reconsider what you are giving them! Pintrest is full of full ideas for cheap, but meaningful gifts, and almost any gift seems more fun with a (free and printable) themed tag. For example, hand soap or hand lotion (both readily available for a dollar) could bear a tag reading “Hands Down, You’re the Best…” (fill in the blank). You can present them in an equally cute manner with a clear goody bag (which you can usually buy twenty or so for a dollar), a little basket filling and a curly ribbon!
Other cheap gifts could include Christmas cards with a few mini chocolate bars reading “Thanks for being so sweet!” You can create several dozen for just a few dollars!
Homemade treats are always appreciated and enjoyed too, like homemade candies, cookies, cocoa mixes and the like!
Have Yourself An Old fashioned Christmas
Another sweet idea when you need Christmas ideas on a tight budget is to have an old fashioned Christmas! Keep it sweet, simple and pure! Make Christmas more about the traditions and less about the gifts. What does your family enjoy? Instead of gifts, try a night with a simple meal followed by a fun night of cookie baking, decorating and eating of course! If you are musically inclined, make it a night of Christmas carols for the neighbors instead.
Make it a household rule to exchange only handmade gifts! It’s fun to see what other secret talents people may have and you’ll have gifts you can cherish for a long time to come!
Oh Christmas Tree!
It may seem silly, but when we see that big, empty space under the tree, we often get the urge to fill it up! Buying a slimmer tree will help ease the pressure to “fill it up!”
I’m Dreaming (Of A Cheaper Christmas)
There are tons more Christmas ideas when it comes to saving money!
A stocking exchange can also be a great way to cut down on the cost of a Christmas gift exchange! Everyone brings a stocking (with a set dollar amount to fill it). You can then use traditional goodies like nuts, hard candies, oranges and the like! Stocking stuffers are usually inexpensive, and no one really expects anything different, so they are a really affordable idea! You can make it even more frugal by having all the adults each bring one, and leave with one (using whatever exchange method you want), so you only have to create one. Children can do the same!
Likewise other Christmas ideas you could include might be to host an ornament exchange, cookies, favorite desserts, cards, or gag gifts!
Book, music and board game exchanges are also fun and meaningful, as you discover more about each other by sharing favorites! Then the gifts can be exchanged again the following year for the next person to enjoy!
Thrift shop (or garage sale) challenges are also a ton of fun! The rule is all gifts must be second hand! Not only is it fun to challenge yourself (and your friends and family), you can find some really amazing buys, save money, and make your Christmas celebration a little easier on the Earth since you are recycling!
Look outside the box for gifts for the kiddos too! Something as simple as their own box of their favorite cereal can be huge if you don’t often buy sugary cereals or name brand treats! No matter what route you go, tis the season to be jolly! Plan simply and just enjoy time well spent with those who matter most!