Christmas on a budget does not mean you won’t have a merry celebration. After all, spending the holiday with people who matter is better than expensive gifts and an indulgent menu.
All you need is a little resourcefulness and planning. And I’ve got the exact budget tips on how to keep your spending in check during the silly season!
1. Set and Stick to a Holiday Budget
First things first: set a spending limit for your holiday shopping. The reason why we overspend is nothing is stopping us from doing so.
So, list all your holiday needs (e.g., gifts, food, décor). Write down estimated prices for each item, too. That way, you won’t be paying too much for something.
2. Avoid Unnecessary Expenses
Another advantage of preparing a tight budget Christmas list is you get to avoid buying things you do not need. For example, it’s tempting to buy lots of ribbons and gift tags. But then again, most of them end up being tossed away, right?
An expensive tablecloth or linen can make your holiday spread look elegant for sure. However, your delicious menu will cover it later, and only a few will take notice.
And if you’ve been storing festive decorations properly, then you don’t need to buy new ones every year. For outdoor decorating, why not use durable wreaths or tinsel instead? Either affordable option won’t cause your power bill to shoot up.
3. Keep Tabs of Sales Events
An expert knows that the secret to planning Christmas on a budget is marking your calendar! In Australia, for example, you have Black Friday and Cyber Monday to score free shipping and excellent deals, including expensive items.
Are kids’ clothes on your shopping list? They’re cheaper during end-of-season sales. Boxing Day is also perfect for post-Christmas gift-giving or shopping for next year’s holiday.
If your credit card offers a point system, Christmas is the best time to use them, too. You can also check your favourite online retailers for coupons or vouchers to get sizeable discounts or freebies.
4. Shop in Bulk or in Advance
Like grocery shopping, buying Christmas things in bulk lets you save money. For instance, if you plan to celebrate with wine or champers, you can search for bulk deals online.
Most local sellers are likely to offer marked-down prices in the lead-up to the holiday season. So, shop in advance when you can.
While it’s fun to join the Christmas rush, holiday item prices are typically higher as demand increases. Also, you’re likely to buy things on impulse when you’re in a hurry.
5. Get Busy with DIY Décor
New baubles, lights and ornaments truly brighten our holiday celebrations. But then, shopping for décor each year can lead to additional spending. And then, storage becomes a problem, too.
If you want Christmas on a budget, it’s best to use the decorations you already own. Try mixing and matching your ornaments or redesigning your old wreaths. You can swap decorations with family or neighbours, too.
Personally, I find DIY holiday decorations therapeutic. I would usually find pieces that I no longer like and put them together to craft something new.
I also like repurposing things like wine bottles, cardboard or food jars into décor to minimise waste.
6. Make Homemade Gifts
Handmade gifts are the best way to cut your holiday expenses, especially if you have a long gift list. You can use them to impress family and friends with your creativity, too.
My rule of thumb is to give essentials, not luxuries. So, if you’re into soap making, why not make homemade soaps or bath bombs? Easy-to-grow herb plants also make great gifts for home cooks and gardeners.
Now, if cooking is your forte, anyone will appreciate anything edible and tasty. For example, you can make jars of your BBQ rub or marinade. Preserves and pickled vegetables are good ideas, too.
If you’re short on time to cook or bake something, giving a hamper of delicious goodies or a recipe kit works as well.
7. Save on Gift Wrappers
Shiny and colourful wrapping paper makes a perfect gift extra special. But Christmas on a budget means you need to spend on essentials, not on things that end up in the trash.
With a bit of recycling, you can wrap up presents without splurging. For instance, use old magazine pages, shopping paper bags or comic strips instead.
I also like using inexpensive kraft paper. That way, I can paint or draw on it to match any occasion. But the best option would have to be reusable wrappers.
For example, use basket organisers, tea towels or gift tin when giving out food items.
8. Do Gift Swapping or Regifting
It’s common to receive gifts that we do not want or use. And there’s nothing wrong with giving these to others who will appreciate them more.
You’ll be saving money and making someone happy. I would usually wrap my recycled gifts with other items to make them extra special.
For example, I would put a small bag of home-baked cookies into a regifted mug or tea set. Or add regifted bars of soap to a small spa-themed hamper.
You can even offer friends or family your skills as alternatives to gifts. For instance, you can assist them with repainting their home, babysitting for a week or cooking a special birthday dinner.
9. Send Online Greetings
Celebrating Christmas on a budget is easy, thanks to technology. Because instead of spending on postal services, you can chat with family from another state or send them videos.
Sending Christmas cards are sweet. But a heartfelt e-mail or a funny e-card is just as thoughtful. It’s nice that websites nowadays have features where you can easily personalise your greetings.
These should make any simple “Merry Christmas!” special.
10. Serve Home-Cooked Meals and Treats
It’s easy to have food delivered to your doorstep and eat. But meals are better when cooked at home, not to mention, more budget-friendly.
So, build your Christmas kitchen brigade. Have someone do the food prep, man the oven and take care of the table setting.
It shouldn’t be too hard if you work as a team. Plus, in the end, you’ll be creating a fabulous meal and great memories.
I suggest keeping your holiday menu simple, though. A shoestring budget Christmas means using whatever is in your pantry, preparing traditional dishes, serving finger food or going meatless!
11. Get Everyone to Pitch In
Now, if you’re hosting a Christmas party, preparing for a crowd can be stressful and expensive. So, here’s what I will do.
Send your invitations in advance, then ask them ahead if they want to bring something for the party, like food or drinks. Instead of gifts, your guests can bring their best pavlova, roast or ham for everyone to share.
It will take the pressure off the host and make your get-together exciting and meaningful.
12. Plan Holiday At-Home Activities
Lastly, even Christmas on a budget is not complete without fun games and activities. You would have to skip that expensive cruise or trip abroad, though.
But kids will still enjoy a cookie-decorating contest, family play, Christmas karaoke or a holiday scavenger hunt. You can also watch a Christmas parade on TV or your favourite Christmas movie – complete with snacks, of course!
We often associate great parties with the best, most expensive things. But remember, Christmas is not about how extravagant your celebration is.
It should be a celebration with people you love – your most valuable gift. Happy Christmas from my family to yours!