Here’s How to Have a Merry Christmas on a Budget

Christmas on a budget

As the holiday season inches toward us, chances are our bank accounts are feeling a little bit of pre-holiday spending pain. There’s the decorations, the food, the celebrations, and the presents. Christmas can add up really fast.

So, for all of us budget-conscious people out there, how can we keep the holidays affordable without dwindling any of that Christmas cheer and holiday spirit?

Celebrating Christmas on a Budget

It might be a little late to include Christmas in your budget (definitely a thing to think about next year). However, you can still enjoy the holiday and save some money. If you don’t have a holiday budget item already set out, take a look at your budget for December and figure out where you can include it.

For many of us, the holidays can really put a wrench in our budgets, so it’s important to keep it in mind. We have to remember to plan for it when we’re working on our financials for the year. This year, if you’re not in the pre-planned boat, take some time to figure out what you plan to spend and where in your budget it can fit. And stick to it!

Buying Presents on the Cheap

Purchasing presents is by-far the most expensive part of Christmas, unless of course you’re my mother who sets up six trees a year all in different themes. But there are a few ways you can cut your Christmas spending down a bit, keep with the holiday spirit, and celebrate Christmas on a budget.

Shop Online

Retail stores appear to be dying out. This makes sense considering their prices typically have to be higher to pay for their significant overhead costs. Instead of a warehouse they have stores, employees, utilities, and middle management. So it goes without saying that shopping online can usually shave a little off the price tag.

Utilize Discount Codes

Browser add-ons like Honey help to make sure you’re getting the cheapest price for a product. They scan through codes and apply them at the checkout, pending there are any.

Often, companies also offer discounts when you sign up for their mailing lists (I know ugh more email). The good news is, you can usually shave a good 10 to 20 percent off the price of your product.

And you can also do Christmas on a budget by getting cashback through websites like ebates which give you a small kickback of your price. My online spending habit over the past year has made me a cool $110 using ebates.

Alternatives to Buying Traditional Christmas Presents

Honestly, not all of us are flush with cash enough to give everybody and their dog a Christmas gift. This can be an especially large factor as young adults get older, but aren’t quite settled into financially stable lives, and for those people starting families on a tight budget.

If that describes you and your extended family or friends, here are a few additional money-saving alternatives to keep your Christmas on a budget:

Hold a Potluck to Cut Down on Food Costs

Preparing a Christmas meal for an extended family can be a really expensive feat. And, it’s expected if you’re hosting family over the holidays. If you’re running a tight budget plan a little holiday potluck with friends or family to keep the expenses down.

Get everyone to bring their favorite dish and you’ll have plenty of food. The best part is, you barely have to cook and you’ve kept your Christmas on a budget!

Hold a Useless Gift Exchange

If potlucks are too tacky for you, there’s no way you’ll like this one, but I swear it’ll create quite the family laugh-fest. In our family, most of the kids are now adults living on smaller budgets than their parents. So, a few years back, one of my aunts suggested we change up the Christmas gift giving process.

Instead of everyone exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve, we hold an ugly sweater party that includes a useless gift exchange. That means everyone goes around their house or runs to the nearest dollar store to find the most useless thing they can get their hands on, then wraps it up, and throws it under a tree.

Our useless gift exchanges get wild – people have received a variety of ridiculous gifts like a single corn holder, a shiny new set of cassette tapes, and a sweatband. Two years ago, I wrapped up an already-enjoyed advent calendar (you’re welcome Dad).

Play Secret Santa

What’s better than buying 20 presents to dole out? Buying one! Secret Santa is a great game for you and your friends, but can’t purchase a busload of gifts. This way each person only pays for one gift, but everyone still gets a little something.

If you are going to go the secret Santa route, you might want to consider putting a dollar limit on your gifts, so no one ends up going crazy. A relatively affordable limit is somewhere between the $25 to $50 limit. That way no one is out and no one feels bad!

Do you have tips for enjoying Christmas on a budget? Share them below, I could use a few more for my roster!

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