Christmas is the number one holiday where most people tend to overspend. Whether it be on gifts for others, holiday feasts, decorations or travel costs – let’s face it, Christmas can be downright expensive. Which is why there are so many grumpy shoppers in the stores each year, I suppose.
Of course, you don’t have to act like Grumpy Cat when you think about Christmas. With just a bit of planning and preparation, you can enjoy your Christmas holiday without spending a ton of cash.
Celebrating Christmas Without Going Broke
Set a Christmas budget
You knew this one was coming, right? If you want to keep your spending in check, it’s absolutely essential to set up some type of budget for Christmas.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to be written down, somewhere that you will see it every day, to keep you focused.
To start, list all of the categories your budget includes. Some examples:
- Gift Wrap
- Postage & Supplies
- Holiday Meals
- Holiday Travel
- Christmas Cards
- Holiday Clothing
- Christmas Tree
Next to each category, write down your spending limit. Add everything up, and that is your total Christmas spending limit. You cannot, under any circumstances, spend more than this amount. If you haven’t started saving money for your Christmas budget, start now. It’s never too late!
Simplify holiday decorations
I know that many people find Christmas decorations to be one of the best parts about this holiday, but you don’t need to completely cover every square inch of your home with decorations. Not only can this be costly, but it’s also a pain to put everything away once the holiday is over.
Allow yourself to scale back on Christmas decor. Don’t feel bad if your house isn’t as decked out as your neighbour’s.
Another important thing to remember about holiday decorations is that you should only keep what you truly love and what you physically have room to store. Personally, I limit myself to 3 large totes for Christmas items (not including our wreath, which has a bin of it’s own), which includes lights, tree ornaments, garlands, tree skirt, mini trees and other decorations.
Limiting myself to these 3 bins ensures that I don’t buy more decorations that I can physically fit into the space I have available.
Shopping for Christmas items (gifts, decor, clothing, etc.) shouldn’t start at the beginning of December, it should start at the end of December – after Christmas. That’s right, you should start shopping for Christmas right after Christmas has ended – this is the time to get the best deals on all holiday items.
Shop as early as you possibly can for next Christmas. I always go out shopping (or shop online) on Boxing Day, and pick up gifts that I can put away for next year (not just for Christmas, but for birthdays, too!). Also, the day after Christmas means 50% off (or more) holiday decorations at most stores, so if you need a few items for decorating, this is the time to pick them up!
It’s never to early to start shopping for Christmas. The earlier you shop, the more money you are likely to save.
Limit gift giving
You don’t have to be Scrooge, but limiting the amount of gifts you have to buy will of course lower your out-of-pocket Christmas expenses. This doesn’t mean that you have to only purchase cheap (in terms of quality) gifts, but instead, be more mindful of the true meaning of Christmas.
For me (someone that is not religious), Christmas is about family – about spending time with those I love the most. Christmas is not about gifts.
So – I don’t give elaborate Christmas presents. My husband and I don’t give each other gifts (we only do that for birthdays and anniversaries), so our gift budget is spent on the kids, our parents, and our siblings – but the gifts are small and thoughtful, instead of extravagant.
Give homemade gifts
I love giving and receiving homemade gifts – any time of the year! They’re thoughtful, they’re inexpensive, and most people like to receive them (thankfully all of my family does!).
Here are some homemade gift ideas that won’t break the bank:
- Homemade Lip Balm
- Baby Lotion Bars
- Oatmeal Laundry Soap
- Liquid Hand Soap (as little as 5 cents!)
- Personalized Baseball Bat
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- Chocolate Peppermint Bark
Have a potluck dinner
If you’re having Christmas dinner at your home this year, make it a potluck dinner. Not only will this save you a tremendous amount of money, but it will also save you a ton of time – time that you should be spending with your family, anyway!
A few weeks before dinner, let all of your guests know which items you will be providing and which items are needed. Each guest can then bring a dish of their own to contribute to a yummy Christmas feast.
Serve dinner on paper plates and try to dirty as few dishes as possible so you don’t have to spend much time in the kitchen cleaning up when everyone goes home!
Celebrating Christmas really doesn’t need to cost a fortune. With just a bit of planning and thinking ahead, you can spend quality time with family, without worrying about how you’re going to pay for everything.
Set a budget, simplify holiday decorations, shop ahead, limit gift giving, give homemade gifts and have a potluck dinner. That’s it! Do these things and you’ll be able to enjoy Christmas without anxiety (or debt!).