|Saving at Christmas still makes the season bright.]]
There are many ways to save at Christmas so you don't feel like you're breaking the budget. While it's fun to buy terrific presents and decorate in high style, you don't want to be paying for Christmas spending in March.
Top Ways to Save at Christmas
- Set a spending budget. The average American spends nearly $1,000 at Christmas. Even during slow economic times, many people feel the need to break away from the constraints of frugality and celebrate by spending more during the holidays. Make a vow to reduce your spending by 30-50 percent this year.
- Reduce the number of gifts. Instead of quantity, go for quality. For the kids, maybe buy one top item on their big wish lists, but then give them a couple of smaller, more frugal presents, such as art or craft supplies, that they'll use more frequently. Suggest that families draw names, instead of buying for everyone. Have an honest discussion with parents and adult siblings about the need to buy gifts. Maybe planning an outing together might be a better, and more memorable, option.
- Host a toy exchange. Invite the children in the family or children's friends to wrap up two toys they no longer want. Each child gets to choose one "new" toy from the batch that he or she will open later on Christmas day. Donate the remaining to a family shelter.
- Do one big family gift. Does the family want to take a big trip to Disneyworld? Is everyone clamoring for a Wii gaming system? Decide as a family that the money usually spent on Christmas will instead pay for one big gift. Use a special container to collect the funds until you reach the desired amount. Then spend Christmas morning making a special breakfast and singing carols together.
- Give coupons for special favors. This is a great idea for partners and neighbors to exchange special favors. Even kids can get in on the fun! From a personal massage to cleaning gutters, doing all the dishes for a week to walking the dog each day, there are a number of ways to acknowledge someone else's time and offer to help.
- Make presents. Whether you knit or bake, build birdhouses or sew, you can probably come up with many ways to make presents that are creative, thoughtful, and much less expensive than store-purchased gifts.
- Send free e-mail cards. Instead of paying for cards and postage, consider sending free e-mail Christmas cards. There are many sites with a variety of cards from which to choose.
Decorating and Wrapping
- Try more natural decorations. If you can't afford a big tree this year, look around the yard for pine boughs, pinecones, and holly branches (just keep the berries away from children). Combined with a bit of ribbon, these are all great materials for decorating inexpensively.
- Make holiday candleholders. Ask a grocery store deli department for used glass jars it would normally throw away. Wash the jars and scrape off labels. Coat the outside of the jars in clear glue and then roll in glitter. Visit the dollar store for cheap candles and place in the jars. The soft glow through the sparkling glitter will add a little magic to the night.
- Host an ornament swap. Ask friends to sort through ornaments and bring five to an ornament swap party. Lay out all the ornaments on a table, or decorate a tree with them. Each attendee can then choose five "new" ornaments.
- Wrap presents differently. Instead of spending more on fancy wrapping paper and baubles, use material such as the comics from the newspaper, fun magazine pages, clean, brown butcher paper (extremely cheap for one big roll), and tissue paper. Tape scratch paper together, and let the children draw holiday scenes in marker and crayon and use this artwork as wrapping paper. Also use pages from a holiday coloring book.
Visit LoveToKnow Christmas
If you need more ideas for ways to save at Christmas or suggestions for top gifts and decorating, visit LoveToKnow Christmas. Helpful articles include: