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Tips for Christmas on a Budget

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Giving gifts is such a fun way to express our love and appreciation for the special people in our lives. It’s part of what makes the Christmas season meaningful. Today I’m sharing 10 tips for Christmas on a Budget to help you think outside the box. 

Christmas is just the most wonderful time of the year, don’t you think?.  It’s when we come together as friends and family to spend time together, exchange gifts, and enjoy seemingly endless feasts. 

However, Christmas can also be a stressful time, trying to meet obligations, buy gifts and incidentals, and still maintain a budget.

If you’re not careful with your planning, your Christmas budget can get out of hand.  The average American spends more than $1000 on gifts each year, and that doesn’t even include the holiday food, decorations, and travel expenses.  

You don’t need to spend more than your budget allows to have a beautiful and magical Christmas.  After all, this is the season for spending time with your family and creating memories, and there are several things you can do to enjoy the holiday and stay within your budget.

Tips for Christmas on a Budget

#1 Determine Your Budget

If you’re reading this when Christmas is close, then determine how much money you can realistically spend on with what you have and what you will have before Christmas.

You may decide to just use cash for your spending, or you may decide to use credit cards.  If you do use credit cards, then think about your payments and how you can realistically pay them off without paying a lot of interest charges.

Once you know how much money you have to spend, start to allocate it for expenses.  Make a list of everyone you need to buy for and how much you have budgeted.  Then think of other expenses, such as family photos, Christmas dinner, and hostess gifts.  

For next year, you may consider setting aside a set amount with each paycheck for Christmas expenses.  Or you may choose to buy a gift card with each paycheck and save those gift cards for your Christmas shopping.

Shopping clubs often offer gift cards at a reduced price off of retail.  Use these to buy your gifts, or use the gift cards as gifts.  You may only save 5 to 10 percent, but it will help your budget.

#2 Communicate With Friends and Family

If it’s been a rough year and the money just isn’t in the budget, communicate with your friends and family.  Chances are, some of them will be relieved and happy to cross a few gifts off of their list as well.  

You can suggest either not exchanging gifts this year or reducing the amount.  You may also consider only exchanging one gift per family or just for the children.  

#3 Limit Gifts

All of those $5 and $10 gift exchanges add up quickly.  If it’s not in the budget and you don’t enjoy them, feel free to drop them from your list.  Make it clear to your friends and family that you are taking the year off.  


For family parties, consider a gift exchange where each person draws one name and buys a gift for them instead of buying for each person in the family.  You can have a higher budget and still save a lot of money.

For your children, you may consider limiting how many gifts each child gets.  Some families only give four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

Tips for Christmas on a Budget @ Short on Time and Money

#4 Look for Sales

Many stores have both in person shopping and online sales.  Take advantage of these sales to save a lot of money.  

Some stores give you a dollar off coupon for a future purchase.  Use these to buy more gifts.  Don’t forget to stack in store coupons with these cash coupon offers to save a lot of money, and then use a percent off coupon when you redeem the cash.  

#5 Save on Wrapping Paper

Pretty wrapping paper and bows are nice, but it all ends up in a pile on the floor.  Shop dollar stores for pretty wrapping paper.  After Christmas is a great time to stock up for the next year.

You can also use white paper or butcher paper to wrap gifts.  Have the kids color on the paper before wrapping on gifts for family.

#6 Give Experience Gifs or The Gift of Time

Do you have friends or family that could use some help around the house or with yard work?  Instead of buying a gift, offer to mow the lawn the next summer.  

For someone who needs help around the house, you can give a smaller gift card to a home improvement store to buy supplies, and then you can help them with the project.  

#7 Handmade Gifts

Consider making gifts for family and friends.  Spa items can be expensive, but you can easily make bath salts or sugar scrubs at home in your kitchen.  You can also give premade jars of cookie mixes or baked goods for friends.  

If you’re crafty, you can make personalized ornaments or tumblers.  These are common items, and everyone likes personalized gifts.

#8 Group Gifts

If there is someone in your family who is in need of an expensive item that just isn’t in your budget, ask other family members if they’d like to make it a group gift.  Instead of spending $100s on one gift, each person may only spend $20 or $50 for the expensive item. 

#9 Cut Other Holiday Costs

Besides gifts, there are a lot of other holiday expenses.  You may do a family photo shoot each year or buy everyone new Christmas pajamas.  Does everyone really need a new outfit for the photos?  Can the kids wear last year’s pajamas?

Each family has their own Christmas traditions that are important.  Decide which ones are important and drop the rest.  You’ll save both time and stress.

#10 Make Extra Money

If you’d like to have more in your Christmas budget than what you have, then consider trying to make more money.  An easy way to do this is to sell things you no longer need.  You can list it on social media for friends or family, or you can sell it online.

You can also pick up a part time seasonal job or even freelance work like ride sharing, grocery delivery, or pet sitting.  

Free Printable Christmas Cash Budget Envelope

How to Download

  1. Click here to download your free printable Christmas Cash Budget Envelope.
  2. Print onto card stock, cut out, and glue. Have a Merry Christmas!

Enjoy Your Christmas on a Budget

Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive to be magical.  These tips for Christmas on a budget will help you stick to your budget and have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends.  

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