How to Do Christmas on a Budget

christmas present

There are ways to lessen the financial drain on your bank account this Christmas and enjoy the season. In fact, Christmas on a budget does not mean having Christmas without fun. You can still give thoughtful gifts to your loved ones. With a little planning and budgeting, you can have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season without wondering how you’re going to make it through January. Here are 10 ways to save on Christmas while celebrating the season.

1. Make a Budget and Shopping List
It’s pretty easy to go overboard on Christmas spending once you hit the shops and stores. Impulse shopping is a sure way to lose track of your spending and spend more than you have. To make matters worse, the primary focus of the store displays target impulse buying (we’re all guilty). Before you go Christmas shopping, make a realistic assessment of what you can spend. ‘Make a list and check it twice!’ Place a dollar amount next to each name on the list. The goal before shopping is to reconcile your budget with the number of names on your shopping list. You want to keep track of your spending and spend only what you can afford. Establishing a budget will help you save this Christmas!

2. Send Christmas or Holiday Cards Instead of Gifts
Sending out Christmas cards is a caring way to let your family know that you’re thinking of them during the holidays. A short, personalized handwritten note within the card can mean a lot. You can purchase Christmas cards in bulk to add to your savings.

3. Do a Secret Santa Gift Exchange
This year, instead of buying a gift for every member of your extended family or your group of friends, consider doing a secret Santa exchange with them. It’s easy enough. First, agree on a dollar amount or a place a dollar limit on the gift. Place all the names of everyone in your gift-giving circle on a slip of paper and drop them in a hat. The name you pull is the person you’re buying a present for. On Christmas Day, everyone gets a gift and in many ways, it’s like receiving a gift from the group.

4. Shop for Discounts Online
This one may go without saying, but some of the biggest discounts you will find this Christmas season are online. Instead of driving around all over the place fighting endless traffic jams over the course of several weeks, spend an afternoon at your computer with your shopping list and budget in hand and knock out as much Christmas shopping as you can.

5. Shop Yard Sales and Flea Markets
Though it may seem an odd place to do Christmas shopping, if you are an early shopper, oftentimes there are hidden treasures to be found by going to summer yard sales or year-round flea markets. By searching yard sales on apps like Yard Sale Treasure Map and Facebook Marketplace you just might find that special gift for that special someone at a big bargain.

6. Try the 4 Gift Rule this Christmas
When it comes to buying gifts for your family, especially your children, it’s easy for Christmas morning to turn into a big production. Overflowing stockings and mounds of gifts under the tree can make or break your bank account. Christmas on a budget means avoiding excess at all costs—literally and figuratively. The truth is: how many toys do your kids need? A week or two after the holiday the excess toys are shelved or closeted never to see the light of day. This Christmas, in line with your budget and shopping list, consider implementing a 4 gift rule—focus on the spirit of giving with only 4 gifts for your child or loved one.

7. Christmas Movies at Home
Though it is fun to go to the movies with your family during the holidays, it can also suck the wind out of your budget. With $10 or $12 tickets, $5 Skittles, and $8 to $10 popcorn, you can quickly drop a $100 in one afternoon. Consider an afternoon at the movies at home. For just about the price of one movie ticket you can get a monthly subscription to a streaming service such as Netflix. Come November and December, the streaming services are showing endless holiday-themed movies and specials that you can enjoy with your family.

8. Christmas Lights Tour
If you live in a large enough community, another fun and frugal way to find entertainment that the whole family can enjoy is to simply drive around your town and other nearby towns to view Christmas lights. During Christmas week many neighborhoods, public venues and commercial buildings go all out with lighted decorations. Some light shows can be amazing and it’s fun for the whole family.

9. Save on Wrapping
Before going overboard on wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and gift tags consider a trip to the dollar store for wrapping paper only. Fancy paper and bows and ribbons and tags are good examples of excess. Buy your wrapping paper at discount stores and simply write the names of who the gifts are for on the package.

10. Share the Costs of Holiday Meals
Whether you are hosting or visiting loved ones, for holiday meals or parties, go with a potluck dinner. Most people are more than happy to bring a special dish they may have had during a Christmas past. Potluck allows everyone to share in the cost of the meal and more time to spend with loved ones instead of being in the kitchen.

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