In 2016 the average family spent over $900 on Christmas. For many, Christmas is a money pit that leaves them paying for this years’ holiday well into the next year and even up to the next Christmas. The holiday has become unaffordable for many. If this is you, here are some ideas that can save you money and bring meaning back into Christmas.
1. Trim down your gift list.
This is especially helpful for large families. Although it is fun buying for and receiving from everyone, it can be very expensive. Make an agreement with your family that you will continue to buy for the children but that the adults will go with a name exchange. This way the children won’t be disappointed and you won’t be spreading yourself thin. If you want to give to the adults whose name you did not pick to exchange with, bake a batch of their favorite cookies.
2. Make you own gifts.
This works not only for Christmas, but birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and weddings as well. Handmade gifts are individualized and come from the heart. Make a beautiful ornament or a door wreath. Other options include homemade hot chocolate, soaps, candles or lotions. Get creative.
3. Give the gift of time.
Don’t spend any money on Christmas gifts and teach your children the true meaning of the holiday season. Get the whole family to donate time at a local soup kitchen for the homeless dishing up Christmas dinners. Give “time” cards to friends and family. For example, you can offer to clean your sister’s house 4 times during the coming year or mow your brother’s grass 4 times during the summer. Give your best friend 2 car washes. Kids can offer to feed their friend’s gerbil while the friend is on vacation. There are hundreds of ways to give time. It doesn’t cost anything and mostly it’s very much appreciated.
4. Go green.
Yeah, the smell of a fresh Christmas tree is hard to beat, but it’s becoming more and more expensive each year. Save a tree this year and for many years to come by celebrating the season with an artificial Christmas tree that can be reused for many years. When you stop to consider that a fresh tree can run upwards or $40, it wouldn’t take very many Christmases to recoup an investment of around $130.00.
5. Buy in the off season.
Immediately after Christmas, all things Christmas usually go on sale for anywhere from 50% to 75% off. Shop for next year early and save big time. The same goes for clothing. If you’re thinking about clothing for a gift, shop seasonal close-out sales.
6. Spend less on food and drink.
So you want to make merry during the season, but at what cost? Parties and family gatherings are expensive for a single household to cater. Instead, make it a group effort by asking different people to bring offerings of food and drink, all of which add up to a tidy sum if one purse is responsible. And don’t be embarrassed to ask. Most people understand that hosting a large group of people can be overwhelming. Don’t be surprised if you start a trend that everyone will appreciate.
7. Have Christmas year round.
Enjoy the holiday season without all the stress and strain and budget-breaking expenses by having Christmas all year round. For example, if you live in a cold climate and your son wants a new bike, don’t tell him he’ll have to wait for Christmas. He probably couldn’t ride it then anyway. Instead shop around for a really great buy and surprise him on May 3rd and say that Christmas came early. Spreading Christmas throughout the year is much cheaper and leaves you time to really enjoy the time off with your family.
8. Start a Christmas Club account.
If you can’t think of a more creative way to spend Christmas than getting wrapped up in all of its commercialism, then at least start a Christmas Club account at your local bank or online and make sure you have the CASH to spend instead of indebting yourself way into the following year or longer. Set one up for the kids as well. It will teach them how to saving money.
9. Make a list and shop online.
Avoid the temptation of overbuying by making a list of gifts that you intend to buy and then find them online. Shopping online is a great way to comparison shop for the best prices.
10. Get out of town.
Yeah, it’s a hectic time to travel, but maybe the best thing to do is get away on a family vacation to avoid all the temptations of Christmas at home. Use the money-saving tips to salt away enough to pay for the vacation in CASH. No bills waiting for you when you return, no stress, no mess, and if you pick the right vacation, it can be a wonderful experience for all.