*This post is part of a mini holiday collaboration with The Honeyteller and The Rose Petal on sharing our best advice and tips on how to be frugal during the holidays by saving and not going broke. Be sure to check out their blogs as well.
Christmas can be quite expensive. The tradition of exchanging gifts with friends, family members, and acquaintances can put a real dent in your wallet and leave you feeling bitter, especially since most gifts tend to be given out of obligation rather than actual joy. This Christmas season, why not give your wallet a break?
Set A Budget
The word “budget” might make your soul cringe but there’s no need to fear. Trust me, you can set up a Christmas budget in just a few minutes and there won’t be any accounting involved. Long story short, it means setting a cap to how much you’re going to spend throughout December.
Budgeting is all about being aware of your purchasing habits. You set aside a limit to how much you’re going to spend and you make sure that you don’t go over. That’s all. If you want to get more involved, you can plan how much you intend to spend on specific categories (e.g. $300 on gifts, $100 on fast food, $50 on movies, etc.) but the key is in the mindset of awareness.
Around the holidays, you will find thousands of ideas for cheap yet awesome decoration ideas that you can make on your own – even if you aren’t good with that kind of stuff.
In addition to decorations, maybe you want to enjoy some Christmas treats. Food is one of the best ways to evoke the spirit of the holidays and Christmas is arguably the foodiest holiday of them all. How much money are you going to spend on cookies, cakes, pies, eggnog, chocolates, and candy canes? You can find plenty of Do It Yourself recipes on pinterest as well. So use it to your advantage.
You could save a lot of money by ditching the supermarket and making those foods yourself. Even if you aren’t so good at cooking and baking, think of this as an opportunity to get better and have some fun. Save money while learning new skills? If you ask me, it’s a win, win.
Find Free Events
Christmas time is family time. One great way to spend that time together is to leave the house and go to a public outing. The drawback is that most public events have admission prices — unless you know where to look.
December is a great month for plays. Most local schools and colleges with drama organizations will be putting on shows; some will be free, others will be a few dollars for a seat. Either way, it’s much cheaper than seeing Broadway, that’s for sure.
Discuss Alternative Gift Giving
Let’s face it – gift giving can be expensive, but it can also be a valuable touchstone for the holiday season for many people. Given that dilemma, why not plan an alternative gift giving plan?
Wrap Gifts Frugally
You don’t need to cover your presents in shiny, expensive wrapping paper. Just don’t. The paper is going to be tossed aside as soon as the package is opened anyway.
Instead, go for minimal wrapping. Wrap your gifts in discount paper, blank newspaper, or whatever else you have on hand. I’ve wrapped gifts in pretty magazine covers before, taking several covers and taping them together to make a “sheet” of paper. For kids, I’ve wrapped gifts in the comic pages from the newspaper.
I’d rather spend $12 on an item and a nickel on the wrapping materials than $10 on an item and $4 on the wrapping materials. Not only does the recipient get a (potentially) better gift, I save money.
Make Your Own Christmas Decorations
Each year, I always get Donovan involved and let him make some of the Christmas tree ornaments and decorations. It’s a win win for both of us.
You usually don’t need to spend a whole lot, maybe the most $5 a year in art supplies, mostly being paper.
Don’t have children? Try making more challenging things. You can make an amazing 3D paper snowflakes out of a few sheets of paper. You can make an amazing table topper by finding some pinecones in the woods, brushing just a touch of white paint on them, and then arranging them with a string of $0.99 greenery from the craft store. Keep it simple and it has a lot more beauty and impact.
Ship Your Christmas Items
If you’re traveling by air to a holiday destination, ship your gifts and other items in a big box or two and trust UPS to get them there.
For starters, this prevents you from having to pay big fees for each extra piece of luggage you have during air travel. This alone will blow the cost of shipping by UPS out of the water. You can ship a big box via UPS with tons of items in it for far less than it costs to check two bags. You can ship more than just gifts, too – ship most of your clothes!
There’s also the fact that your UPS-shipped items are more likely to arrive at the destination without being lost if you give them plenty of lead time. You’ll also not have to deal with checking luggage when you’re at the airport, which can be an extra hassle both at check-in and when you’re waiting for your bags after the flight. You get to skip all of that.
Prep Food Items So You Don’t Rely on Convenience Foods
Most big holiday meals can be a real trick to pull off. It can be really tempting to rely on convenience foods that are both more expensive and less appealing than the real thing.
You can avoid all of that by starting prep a few days in advance. Make as much as you can in the two or three days before the big meal, leaving you only with final assembly and actual cooking on the big day.
This will make your meal cheaper. It will also make your meal tastier and (probably) healthier. It will also make the day itself less stressful.
*I hope you enjoyed this wonderful Christmas post on being frugal and saving money. If you enjoyed, please leave a comment below, letting me know what else you’d like to see on here, and I’ll see ya next time 🙂