Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. There is so much to love– the decorations, light displays, celebrations, music, movies and more. And I love the process of thinking about my loved ones, deciding what to get them and looking for great deals.
However with so many gifts to buy– everyone from family to friends to mail carriers to teachers– the expenses can add up quickly. I try to land somewhere in the middle of Santa Claus and Scrooge, so I can still appreciate those I care about without hurting my family’s finances.
If that’s you too, here are some ideas for ways you can save on Christmas without turning into Scrooge.
- Set a gift budget.
I do this for gifts all year long, but at Christmas it’s especially important. Sit down with your spouse and discuss how much you want to spend on each other, children, parents, siblings and others. You can log this information in my Christmas Expense Tracker, and you’ll be able to use it next year as a starting point for setting your Christmas budget. Setting a budget has allowed us to avoid one spouse spending more than the other, spending more on one set of parents vs. the other and forgetting some people’s gifts entirely.
- Draw names.
Instead of shopping for everyone in your large family, suggest drawing names. This will allow you to get a nicer gift for one person than small presents for many people.
- Buy for kids only.
Children are the most fun to give gifts to. The excitement and glee all over their faces as they rip into gifts always makes me think of the saying, “Tis better to give than receive.” Why not suggest just buying for the children and letting the adults share in their joy?
- Buy family gifts.
Gifts like board games, movies, themed gift baskets or memberships to museums, zoos or theaters make perfect gifts for the whole family. And they can be much less stressful to buy than getting individual gifts for every member of the family.
- Agree on a price limit for friends & family.
Nothing is more awkward than spending $20 on your friend a Christmas gift when you can tell she spent more than $50. This situation can be avoided if you set a price limit on gifts with your friends and family.
- Consider making gifts with special talent.
Imagine getting pumpkin bread from your friend who is a fabulous baker or a monogrammed shirt from a family member who is a whiz with their Cricut. Use your special skill or favorite hobby to make your friends and family members a gift that is truly one-of-a-kind.
- Give a quality time gift.
Honestly, I can’t name a specific gift I received last year for Christmas. And I’m betting many of you can’t either. We are so blessed with material things in this country, but often poor in quality time spent with those we love. (I’m talking about phone-free, distraction-free time really focused on someone else.) Skip the gift and do something special with your friend or family member like a meal out or painting class.
If you are willing to be creative and talk to your friends and family members, you can save money on gifts without feeling cheap or greedy.
And don’t forget to download the free Christmas Expense Tracker to record what gifts you buy and how much you’re spending.