Christmas should be a time for joy and celebration, for family and friends, for worship and thankfulness. But, too often, it turns into a time to spend, spend, spend. From buying gifts to decorating our houses to preparing huge meals or tons of goodies, Christmas can be very expensive. But thoughts of money to be spent don’t need to dampen the joy of the season. It is possible to celebrate Christmas and not spend huge amounts of money. Here are some ideas I’ve used over the years to take some of the financial strain away from the season.
*If you like a live tree, look for a place to chop your own- not a pay and chop lot but a real, open piece of land owned by family or friends. There is lots of fun to be had looking for a tree to take home. And you can’t beat a free tree.
*If you’d rather have an artificial tree which lasts for many years, shop the day after Christmas. Many trees are marked down 50-75% off on December 26. We replaced our 20+ year old tree this year by finding a great tree at very little cost after Christmas.
*Use homemade ornaments or ornaments given as gifts. There are many fun ways to make ornaments with your kids. And it is so much fun to take these homemade ornaments out year after year and talk about when they were made. It’s also fun to request ornaments as gifts. Then each ornament has a special story as you remember the giver while you’re decorating each year.
*Shop thrift stores for decorations. Many people often overlook thrift stores or second hand stores when thinking of home decor. But check out local stores around the holiday season. Often people who are buying new things will donate their old decorations.
*If you are eating together with friends or family, ask everyone to bring a dish. Don’t be hesitant to offer to host a get together and ask people to bring something. Many people would be happy to contribute a dessert or part of meal; they just don’t want to be the planner. Offer to plan, but let the others contribute to the meal.
*If you enjoy making goodies, choose just a few things to make instead of making so many. We love “cookie day” in our house- a day where we just make Christmas goodies. But this can get expensive when we really begin buying ingredients. So we’ve begun to choose just a few favorite things to make.
*Use coupons to stock up in the months leading to the holidays. Grocery sales run in cycles. If you begin saving coupons a few months before the holidays, you can buy ingredients or foods you know you’ll use for the holidays and store them to be used in your holiday baking or meals. Waiting until the day before preparing a meal before going to the store for supplies is the most expensive way to get what you need.
*Buy gifts throughout the year. As you are shopping throughout the year, keep an eye out for sales. When you come across something on sale that you know would be a great gift for a friend or family member, go ahead and purchase it. (Of course you should remember where you put these items!)
*Decide with family members not to buy gifts for everyone. Most of us have much, much more than we could ever need. Often our gift exchanges turn in to exchanging money or gift cards because none of us can decide what to buy for people who don’t need anything. Decide to get together without exchanging gifts.
*If you can’t do away with the gift exchanging entirely, choose an alternative. Together, collect money or gifts to give to a charity. Draw names to exchange gifts with each other. Set a price limit on gifts.
Buy planning ahead and making wise choices, you can enjoy Christmas without stressing over money. You can have a merry- and frugal- Christmas!
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