Christmas is a holiday that causes many people great anxiety, this is due to the tightening economy, false expectations and the Large expenses that they normally incur. Yet, it is possible to save money, stay on a budget and still have a great holiday for your family. Just keep in mind the real spirit of the season and plan ahead.
Keep it real.
First, you want to established a realistic budget (what you really can afford to spend). Write down what you have to spend and figure what your going to spend for who. Spend cash and don't use credit cards unless you are buying online (and avoid all those high interest rates, overbuying and after holiday bills).
This is Christmas, it is about giving, not keeping up with the neighbors. If you need to buy gifts, shop early and look for sales. Buy one gift instead of many. Give gift cards. Keep gifts simple. Do activities that enrich the Holidays, but don't break your budget. Don't be afraid to make gifts, decorations, bake and cook at home to save. The Christmas season is about Spirituality, family, friends and sharing good times, not showing off.
Gifts for Kids and family.
Gifts for children don't have to be a $300.00 game system with $84.00 game disks. You may want to limit the number and price of gifts and not get everything a child asks for. Look for coupons and sales. Look for bargains on name brand toys, but beware of unsafe or poorly constructed toys. Check out the internet for items deemed unsafe for children or contaminated (China products) and poorly made outside the US. (Consumer Report and simular sites give lists)
Get value for your money. Shop online as well as in stores and compare prices. Buy one great gift that your child or special person really wants, instead of lots of expensive gifts. If you need to buy additional gifts, then buy some simpler inexpensive ones that accent the the expensive one.
With small children, inexpensive play sets and activities are just as appreciated as showy gifts. Tell your relatives and friends that you are simplifying your families life and do not expect expensive gifts for your children. Don't be afraid to give baked goods, that you have made yourself, or other handmade gifts.
Traditional gifts and games for children are usually inexpensive. Buy discounted traditional games like Shoots and Ladders, Candyland, Life, Monopoly, Stratego and checkers. Packages of green soldiers, farm animals, people and activity sets and coloring books will still put a smile on a small child's face. Be creative, buy them plastic farm animals and a book about farms. Look for activity games to keep them busy through the holiday.
Limit or quit buying your baked goods for the holidays. Make your Christmas memorable by holding a baking night at your house and invite your family and friends over to bake cookies. Make and decorate Christmas cookies, breads and fruitcakes. This can turn into a much loved annual Christmas tradition. You can even plan to hold several nights at different family and friends houses, baking and sharing different family recipes.
Cookies hold up really well in the freezer. So you can bake different items on different days. Make large batches of one kind of cookie, then divide them up with your friends and save them for the holidays. Best of all it can be a fun activity that everyone can participate in. Get children involved, they love to use cookie cutters, make ginger bread men (and women) and decorate sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles. This is a lot more fun than buying your cookies.
Recycle the decorations from last year. Use inexpensive candy canes, red and green candles, ribbons and tree ornaments instead of buying pre-made arrangements. Red and/or green tree ornamants in a clear bowl can make a great centerpiece. String popcorn and dried cranberries on thread for tree decorations. Have the kids make paper chains from construction paper to hang. Cut out snow flakes from white paper. Bake sugar cookies with a hole in the top for a ribbon or string and hang them on the tree. Buy inexpensive large bows for your porch columns, porch lights and gates. Hang old Christmas cards, save them from year to year, and add new ones you receive, they look great around doorways for a holiday flare, or use them in creative ways as decorations. Don't forget that pine cones, holly and a few branches from the bottom of your Christmas tree can make great decorations. Don't ignore the dollar discount stores for inexpensive decorations and ribbons.
Take simple paper lunch bags, fill the bottom with sand or dirt, put in a cheap candle in each and you have inexpensive sidewalk luminaries for a classy holiday entrance, just light when it gets dark. Check out the net for other inexpensive ideas.
Plan inexpensive family activities.
Take the whole family or your friends and have an evening of looking at neighborhood Christmas lights by car or on foot. Plan an evening of Christmas caroling with family or friends (you can print the words right off the web).. Go together as a family to buy a tree, make a day of it, drink hot chocolate or hot cider together (both are available in instant and are not expensive.
If you have a fireplace, make a big event out of picking the perfect log for Christmas Eve, the tradition Yule Log. This to can become a family tradition. Have several nights of reading Christmas stories to your children leading up to Christmas instead of watching them on TV. If you are Christian buy a nativity calendar and let your children open it each day as you count down to Christmas.
Consider sledding, ice scating, snow ball fights or walks in the snow at the nearby park, and don't forget to build a snow man together. Plan evening of driving around the neighborhood to look at other people's outdoor light displays.
Prepare food at the house instead of eating out during Christmas shopping. It is amazing how much it can cost to hit fast food during the holidays. Make quick foods available in the refrigerator. Cold cuts for sandwiches, cheese spreads, cut vegetables and ranch dip, instant cocoa, apple cider and hot teas.
Cook for the holiday. Items made from scratch usually taste better and fill the house with those special smells of the holiday, and save you money. Plus you get great left overs that can save you even more money by stretching to several meals. If you don't know how to cook, buy a good cook book. Practice before the holidays.
Keep it simple to save. Stick to just the basics. Serve a turkey or a ham and not both, if it doesn't meet your budget. Buy rolls of paper towels with Christmas decorations, instead of napkins. Dollar stores often have paper table clothes for little money.
If you serve alcoholic drinks, consider a punch rather than individual mixed drinks. It is a lot less expensive.
Fill canning jars with home made candy. Give a special item you own, to a special person in the family, such as a piece of jewelry from your Grandmother. Inexpensive gift cards are now available for going to the movies, dining and a host of services. Make something in your workshop, sew a child's special blanket, give a picture frame with a family portrait. Give a favorite bottle of wine. Be imaginative, give gifts from the heart. Wrap presents yourself, don't pay to have them done. Keep bows and ribbons from the year before. Use old Christmas cards for package cards or decorations on a package.
Remember that Christmas is about spiritual unity, celebration, family and sharing. Gifts should come from the heart. Fellowship, food and the colors and smells of Christmas need not be out of your budget; simple scented candles, a smaller tree, sharing egg nog and creating an annual tradition. All these activities stick in the minds of children and adults alike. Think back to a special Christmas and you will find that it is not the expensive gift you remember. It is possible to create a wonderful holiday with a small budget. Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy.
Keep it simple
Keep in your budget, substitute, be imaginative and make it a game you can win.
Cook instead of buying prepared food.
Give unneeded clothes and blankets to a shelter, this is inexpensive, helps others and in the spirit of the season. A cash donation helps too and even $10.00 will be appreciated.
Check out decorating suggestions online. Use candy canes, ribbons, garlands, inexpensive Christmas tree bulbs for simple but classy decorations.
Consider using all family made decorations for a traditional Christmas.
Simple decorations and ideas are all over the net.
Shop early and look for sales â€¢ Don't forget the dollar stores and discount shops for inexpensive ribbons, garlands, decorations, paper plates, cups and napkins.
Spend cash, not credit cards to stay on budget and save
- Beware of cheap candies made in China, they may contain melanin.
- Check inexpensive light sets for lead.