Christmas is a special time, especially for families with children. It’s incredible to watch children’s faces light up at holiday lights, Santa, presents. What parent wouldn’t want to give their child the most magical Christmas? But, budget constraints can make the holidays stressful. Here are some money saving tips for Christmas to help you keep the stress level down and the enjoyment level up this holiday season.
1 – Budget
The best way to keep your spending in check is to plan ahead and set an appropriate budget amount for your family. Gift-giving for your immediate family should take priority and then be sure to think about extended family, teachers, friends, co-workers, etc. If you are going to send out Christmas cards, budget for that as well. This budget can be as detailed as you want and can not only include gifts and cards, but extra holiday food, parties, and decorations, too. Many banks have Christmas savings programs to help you get started if it feels overwhelming. Stop in at your local bank and see what they can do to help you start planning for next year.
2 – Shop Early
Saving money on Christmas gifts, especially if you are going for specific items, takes research and knowledge of sales. Start as early as August to compile a list of gift ideas and start scouring Amazon reviews in your spare time or check Consumer Reports for comparisons. When you’ve decided on popular or big-ticket items, watch for sales. You can wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but often Labor Day and Veterans’ Day sales can be good, too. Sign up for discounts and sale alerts at the stores where you wish to buy and keep your ears pricked for that special deal.
3 – DIY
The ultimate money-saving strategy is to do it yourself. If you have a knack for baking, put together homemade mixes. If you have a green thumb, jar some homemade pickles from your garden. If you sew or knit, whip up beautiful accessories. Even if you don’t have a special talent or skill to draw on, perhaps you have a friend that does. If you are planning ahead, you can offer your friend babysitting services or cleaning help in exchange for that special homemade item for your Mom. And, of course, there is always Etsy which can have fantastic deals on unique gifts.
4 – Liquidation Stores
What about hitting up your discount stores and liquidation sales? You can find incredible deals on gift items, especially for children. These stores often have books and toys with popular Disney characters that preschoolers will love. You can find name-brand skincare and make-up products for teens and young women which look lovely packed in a Mason jar and tied with a festive bow. College-age and the newly married would be happy to have a gift box full of kitchen tools and gourmet food samples. Any of these ideas are suitable for teachers and co-workers, too.
5 – Sell Your Stuff
You can make a little money for new things by selling your old things. Again, the key is to start early and enlist your kids to help. Find clothes, last year’s toys, and unused household items with value. Sell them on Craigslist or e-Bay for extra cash toward this year’s purchases.
6 – Time
Don’t forget that your time is money! You can gift yourself to your family and friends. Remember those old coupon books? You probably gave at least one to your parents. Present a sophisticated and thoughtful version of this gift to someone. Plan a special outing with a child, a date night with your spouse, a girls’/guys’ night out with friends. Offer services such as cleaning help for a new Mom, babysitting services for anyone with children, yardwork for an elderly relative or friend. Perhaps you have a special talent, like photography, and can offer an afternoon photo shoot for free. Or, maybe you make a killer soup and can make a coupon book for your homemade soups for friends to cash in during the year. As long as you are creative and thoughtful, this is sure to be a winning gift.
7 – Traditions
Don’t underestimate the power of family traditions and quality time together. These are far more important than gifts and you can wrap up your traditions to make it feel like there is more under the tree. Many families wrap special books to open at Christmas time. If you keep these books tucked away and bring them out once a year, they will hold even more special meaning. They don’t even have to be about Christmas, any special favorites will do. Reading aloud to your children is important all year, but with a little wrapping paper and beloved stories, it can make special magic for your holiday. What about wrapping tools and supplies for a Christmas baking day? Or, for making a gingerbread house? Wrap up new pens and stationery supplies for a day-after thank-you note writing party. Be creative and present even simple traditions in meaningful ways and you just might find that this unexpected gift is a favorite.
8 – Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are really fun for kids and can stretch out a few gifts into a whole morning of giggles. Little kids can be sent around the house in search of stickers, craft supplies, little treats, and simple toys. Teenagers will love challenging riddles to “unlock” their Christmas gifts. They can even be sent out to friends’ houses to gather small items or clues. Even some adults will get into the spirit of this kind of game. Again, start planning early to make this fun and memorable.
9 – Gratitude Journal
Buy a special journal and take the time to pre-fill several pages. Write the ways you are grateful to have this person in your life. Share special memories that you have with them. Kids love to hear parents express why they love them. Spouses need to hear it. Anyone would appreciate kind, heartfelt words and special memories.
10 – Acts of Service
Often the best gifts are not the ones you receive, but the ones you give. What better way to spend holiday time as a family than by giving time and service to others. You can find local churches, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, charities, etc. that have needs over Christmas, even on Christmas Day. Visiting a nursing home or other shut-ins can be a wonderfully uplifting experience. Perhaps you know a military family with a deployed loved one, or someone who is stuck in a hospital over Christmas and could use some help or companionship this year. Ask around your neighborhood to see if any families on your street need something you could help with this year.
We hope you found some inspiration from our money-saving tips for Christmas. Let us know how you saved money on this year’s festivities.