Christmas is meant to be a magical time of year, but for families that are struggling financially, it can create a lot of stress. Not only do you have to think about buying gifts for everyone, but all of the holiday decorating, Christmas cards, along with parties you plan on hosting can quickly add to that unpleasant feeling that’s growing in your stomach. While Christmas may be just around the corner, there’s no need to fret. Here are several different ways to do Christmas on a budget.
Set a Budget-and Actually Stick to it
You don’t have to feel bad if things are a little tighter this year and you’re simply not able to go extravagant on Christmas gifts for your loved ones like you have in years past. Sit down and figure out what you can realistically afford to spend on each person, and stick to it.
It may also be helpful to use cash instead of credit so that you physically cannot spend more than what you have budgeted for. This is a very important tip for having Christmas on a budget.
To avoid last-minute panic and overspending, start your holiday shopping early. This allows you to spread out your spending over time and also take advantage of deals before they sell out or prices increase closer to Christmas. It may seem like a hassle now, but you’ll thank yourself later when you’re not scrambling for gifts at the last minute.
Keep a keen eye on sales leading up to Christmas. Many stores offer big discounts right before the holiday, especially on items that may not sell as well after Christmas such as winter clothing or winter-themed decorations. Take advantage of these deals and stock up on gifts for future Christmases or birthdays as well.
Homemade gifts can be just as special as store-bought ones, if not more so because of the thought and effort put into them. Consider gifting homemade baked goods, crafts, or even coupons for free chores or services such as car washing or babysitting.
Affordable Christmas Activities
Instead of expensive outings, plan Christmas activities that can be done at home such as movie marathons, board game tournaments, building gingerbread houses, decorating cookies, writing letters to Santa, and more.
Consider Used or Second Hand Gifts
Looking for gifts at thrift stores or online marketplaces such as eBay or Craigslist can lead to great deals on items that are just as good as new. This is also a great way to support second hand markets and reduce waste.
Group Gift Someone
If you want to buy a very nice gift for someone special in your family but it simply costs too much money, there’s always the idea of saving up and presenting that gift as a group.
There’s nothing wrong with re-gifting an item you received but will not use. Just make sure the item is still in good condition and that the person you are gifting it to will actually appreciate and use it.
Set a Spending Limit on Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchanges
Instead of buying gifts for every person in your family or friend group, consider setting a spending limit for Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchanges. This way, everyone still gets to participate in the fun of gift-giving without breaking the bank.
Use Recycled Paper as Wrapping Paper
After all the gifts have finally been opened, all of the torn and ripped-up wrapping paper is just going to end up out on your curb. This year, don’t waste money on wrapping paper, instead, use recycled paper to wrap your gifts in things such as newspapers, magazines, old maps, and comic book pages. But if you’re insistent on using the real deal, you could also visit thrift shops and garage sales throughout the year to find wrapping paper marked down cheap.
Frame and Gift Your Children’s Artwork
Grandparents always love receiving drawn or colored pictures from their grandchildren, so why not frame and gift some of your children’s creativity for them? Picture frames are relatively cheap while your children’s artwork is priceless.
Invite Loved Ones Over for Cookie Decorating
Rather than purchasing expensive gifts for your loved ones, spend some quality time with them. Invite them over for a cozy night of cookie decorating and hot cocoa to get into the holiday spirit. You can even turn it into an exciting cookie-decorating competition with an actual prize. This will create memories that last much longer than any material gift could.
Volunteer at a Local Charity or Soup Kitchen
One of the best ways to truly feel the Christmas spirit is by giving back to those in need. Consider volunteering at a local charity or soup kitchen to help spread joy this holiday season. Not only will it make you feel good, but it will also show your children the importance of giving and serving others. Sometimes this is the best way to have Christmas on a budget.
Host a Potluck
Instead of hosting a fancy and expensive dinner party that will keep you up worrying the night before, consider having a potluck or bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) dinner with friends and family. Not only will this save money, but it also takes some stress off of the host as everyone pitches in to provide food and drinks. And who doesn’t love a good potluck?
Marvel at the Holiday Light Displays
Nothing will get you in the Christmas spirit faster like driving around and gazing at all of the beautiful holiday light displays in your neighborhood or city. This activity is completely free and a great way to spend quality time with loved ones during the holiday season. You could also bring hot cocoa for everyone to sip on to make the experience that much sweeter!
Remember the true meaning of Christmas
At the end of the day, focus on what matters most-spending quality time with loved ones and remembering the true meaning of Christmas. Material items come and go, but memories and experiences last forever. Don’t let the pressure of gift-giving take away from what Christmas is all about.
More Christmas Tips:
- How to Have a Christmas with No Gifts
- How to Shop After Christmas Sales
- Christmas Crafts for the Whole Family
- How to Keep Out of Holiday Debt This Year
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Christmas season while on a budget. It’s important to remember that it’s not about how much money you spend on gifts or festivities, but rather the love and joy that is spread among family and friends during this special time of year. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
What tips would you add to this list for having Christmas on a budget?