Although most people get into some of their biggest debt around the holiday season, there are ways to have a fun and frugal Christmas. Before you find yourself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of buying everyone a gift or trying to meet everyone’s expectations, check out my top 20 tips to help you keep out the stress so you can usher in the true meaning of the season.
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Set up a budget in advance and stick to it.
If your goal is a fun but frugal Christmas, setting a budget is one of the single best ways to hold yourself accountable for not overspending. You’ll give yourself a head start if you make your budget earlier in the year and take small steps to make sure you don’t overdo it when shopping season finally comes.
Start buying as early as possible to save on Christmas shopping.
Huge sale weekends like Black Friday may seem like the best time to get all your holiday shopping in; however, there are major deals that take place all throughout the year. The best way to find these deals is to create a shopping list as early as possible and be on the lookout for sales on those specific items.
Plan Christmas meals and holiday snacks in advance to avoid buying too much.
Meal planning your holiday meals is a must if you want to save money plus keep from feeling overwhelmed. Decide early on what your holiday menu will be and watch for any items that may go on sale. You can also solicit the help of family and friends if you’re planning on hosting a holiday dinner. A potluck style can make for a pretty big and feasible feast.
Make homemade Christmas cards and tags.
Making homemade Christmas cards and tags is not only frugal but also a great time to get the kids involved. Use recycled wrapping paper, gift bags, and tissue paper to create beautiful and memorable cards and tags.
Give cookies or other baked goods and food items as presents.
Who doesn’t love a sweet treat as a gift? This year, consider opting in for giving baked goods as frugal Christmas presents. If baking isn’t your thing, you can give cookies in a jar by stacking the needed ingredients for the recipient to bake their own.
A frugal Christmas gift – your skills or time.
Time and skills are two of the most valuable assets a person has, so consider gifting them. If there is something you can do to help someone, make note of it in a Christmas card or even create a neat little coupon for them to actually redeem. This act of kindness can go a long way and can be both fun and frugal.
Reuse Christmas wrapping and gift bags.
If you’re not using these to create those homemade cards and tags, then consider recycling them completely by regifting them. Save the paper (if you can), bags, and tissue paper to use for the next holiday.
Price check carefully before you shop.
You may be shocked to find that most stores will do price checks, but that’s only if you’ve done a little homework yourself. Before making purchases, do a quick Google search and cross check to see if the item is available somewhere else for a cheaper price. If so, ask if the place will price check. If not, go to where it’s cheaper!
Do DIY Christmas decorations.
Do-it-yourself Christmas decorations are as easy as candles, cute place mats, and a few rows of garland over the fireplace mantel. For this Christmas season, consider the less is more rule and use what you already have lying around the house to decorate.
Commit to a cash-only Christmas.
There is something about spending cash that makes you spend less. It’s easy to pull out a card and swipe or tap and those purchases can add up fast. Consider going Dave Ramsey and using a cash envelope system for buying any and everything related to this holiday season.
Consider buying used where you can.
Mom and pop shops, thrift stores, and consignment shops hold some of the best hidden treasures that could turn into the most amazing gifts. Check these places when you’re planning to do your holiday shopping this season.
Host a neighborhood cookie swap.
One of the funnest ways to bring your neighborhood together is with a cookie swap. Start a sign-up sheet to see who all would like to participate. Then, pick a day and time of the swap. Choose how you’ll do the switch, whether it’s assigning each neighbor a partner or standing in a big circle and doing one or two passes to the right.
Give gifts that meet a need.
Did you notice your husband could use a few extra tools to help make his Honey-Do-List much easier to tackle? Could your sister use a new coffee pot? Are your kids’ crayons and pencils on their last leg? Look for ways to bless people with things they actually need. These are the gifts that go a long way and keep on giving.
Reduce the number of people you buy gifts for.
What’s the number one thing people hear when they give someone a gift… “Oh, you didn’t have to get me anything!” And the truth is, you probably didn’t need to but you may have felt obligated for some other reason. Instead of feeling the need to purchase gifts for everyone in your circle, stick to just a few. With everyone else, a simple hug and “I’m glad you’re in my life” will suffice.
Do Secret Santa instead of buying a lot of gifts for everyone.
Secret Santa works wonders, especially when you have a big family, lots of co-workers, or a big group of friends. It is the number one way to cut back on buyings tons of gifts while combining a nice get-together and fun time.
Be prepared to say “no” when needed.
A frugal Christmas often means not saying “yes” to everything. Saying no is hard, but absolutely necessary for a fun and frugal Christmas season. Going beyond the financial strains that saying yes can have, saying no is also tied to your mental and emotional well being. Sometimes opting in for a more laid back holiday season is what’s needed the most.
Use money-saving apps.
In the world of apps, you are bound to find some that will help you save money and have a fun and frugal Christmas. Apps like Honey Coupons & Savings will help you find promo codes at checkout. SavingStar helps save money at grocery stores (comes in handy when shopping for that big holiday meal). If you’re looking to save money while on a tight budget, Joy would be an app to check out.
Go to free Christmas events in your community.
Despite the changes that most communities have taken, you may be able to find some free Christmas events to attend. Look for Christmas parades, Santa drive-by’s, or even take a drive to see some Christmas lights and decorations. Or stay in your car and do a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt!
Do free Christmas activities at home (movie marathon, roast marshmallows, etc.)
Use the holiday season as a time to bond with family. Even with the side effects of the pandemic, there are a number of frugal Christmas activities you can do from the comfort of your own home. Consider watching your favorite Hallmark movies, cooking a meal together, or even roasting marshmallows over a homemade fire pit.
Remember what the holiday season is really about.
After all the gathering, opening of presents, and binged watched Hallmark movies, remembering what the holiday season is really about matters most. There is a historical account that changed the course of this world and continues to change individual lives right now today. This is the reason for the season.
Having a fun and frugal Christmas doesn’t have to be hard. Use the tips above to start cutting back in different areas and embrace a new way of giving and celebrating this holiday season.
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