Christmas on a Budget Ideas

It can be difficult to “Deck the halls” and “trim those trees” inexpensively but, yes, there are ways to do Christmas on a budget. 

The holiday season does not need to drain your budget. Making the extra effort to search for coupons or make gifts yourself can save you a lot in the long run. 

Below, find a list of ways to do Christmas on a budget—without losing any of the charm. Many ways to do Christmas inexpensively also allow you to create more meaningful memories and gifts. This year, stray away from overpriced gifts and decorations and instead grant your time and love to those around you.

christmas on a budget ideas

Plan ahead

Ensure that you are not overspending by creating a budget and sticking to it. Only put the essential items on that list, and make sure that you are aiming to find the least expensive items. Make sure not to make excuses for yourself to go over budget. 

Make a list of items that you will need. This can include Christmas cards, food and groceries, baked goods, decorations, lights, Christmas trees, tree decorations, wrapping supplies, Christmas gifts, and outfits for the holiday. Do not allow yourself to overspend, and, if you feel like you are unable to reach your budget, cut things out or find cheaper alternatives.

Instead of buying expensive, impersonal presents, make gifts yourself

Hone into your inner creative genius and write short stories for your guests, or knit scarves, bake— the possibilities are endless. Plus, handmade gifts are much more heartfelt than others. These gifts, while being less expensive, will be more appreciated by the receiver. 

Gifts that are especially personal can include homemade frames with photographs inside, or photo albums commemorating the year. You can use shells to capture beach memories or make homemade candles, allowing your guests to remember you by scent. 

Last year I handmade body cream that everyone loved.  It didn’t feel like a cheap gift at all, in fact that cream would probably be super expensive in store.  

Find materials to make gifts inexpensively instead of going to high-end knitting or craft stores. Michael’s (michaels.com) and Hobby Lobby (hobbylobby.com) are great places to shop and make sure to look for coupons beforehand. 

Aim for quality and meaning over price when looking for gifts. Try making a theme out of your gift that goes along with its recipient. If your cousin loves the color yellow, then create a themed gift with all yellow objects. Does your friend love coffee? Get them a bag of beans and a mug. 

A gift that is homemade or that means a lot does not have to cost a lot. Do your research—know what your family member truly needs or wants. Chances are, they don’t need another sweater or expensive bag. Instead, they could be looking for a specific candle scent or a handmade necklace. These gifts have a bigger impact and last longer, as well.

Get the decorations from inexpensive stores and locations

Stray away from high-end malls and shops. Instead, look for sales online, ie. Amazon (amazon.com) or inexpensive locations. Outlet malls are great places to look for clothing and appliances on sale, for example.

But my biggest tip is to buy on sale when the season ends.  As I go through the Holiday season I keep a running list of what I want to get on sale in late Dec/January.  Craft stores have some of the best sales.   

Find used Christmas decorations: Facebook Marketplace is a good place to look, where people are always trying to get rid of their old supplies and decorations in your area. Other sites like eBay.com and Craiglist.com are great to check out, as well.

Aim Small: There’s no need to have a huge light show outside of your house. You will still capture the essence of the holiday with a simple string of lights around your tree. You don’t need the biggest feast or best party, the fanciest outfit and most important gifts. Instead, aim for inexpensive gifts and decorations that mean the most.

Provide your own entertainment

Stay in—instead of going out for Christmas, watch movies at your home, make snowmen, go for a hike with your family or more. Find local entertainment, whether that is a local choir sing or event happening at a library. 

Make cards together or, better yet, get together to donate your time by volunteering at a local organization. Playing games with your family will prove to be a more positive bonding experience than going out and spending money on shows or movie tickets.

Gifts

To save money, you can reuse old wrapping paper and bags, and regift. Just remember to remove the tags. No one has to know! Make sure that you are not regifting to someone who will know that you already owned the gift.

I get a lot of stuff from Facebook marketplace and last year I got a box full of Christmas gift bags for free.  There is nothing wrong with reusing. 

Ask for a Christmas List

Have each member of your family or your secret Santa create a list of what they want. Also, possibly ensure that these gifts fit in the budget you have for the gift game. This way, you can be certain that the gift you are giving is wanted and appreciated. There are a variety of websites that you can create lists on, including gifts (https://www.giftster.com/)

Don’t give gifts to everyone

If everyone is up to it, plan a secret Santa or grab bag. This will be more fun anyway, and everyone still manages to get a gift. There are a wide variety of fun gifting games to play that can add to the surprise of giving presents, such as a White Elephant. These games add a sense of fun and entertainment to the holiday season. 

christmas on a budget ideas

Give the gift of food

Everyone loves sweets, and these gifts tend to be less expensive, though disposable. Coffee beans, cookies, chocolate, and more can be found inexpensively and are always appreciated. Plus, you can home-cook special recipes, as well.

Give an experience, not a gift

I wish someone would gift me a spa trip or a restaurant gift card. These tend to be gift card gifts, which allows you to control the price.

Focus on the words: 

A handwritten, hand-drawn, long and heartfelt card can pack a great punch when giving gifts.

Show your love in other ways than gifts 

If you have children, learn how to say no to the latest and greatest expensive gadget. Chances are, that will pull them away from connecting with family during the season. Stick to quality over quantity when giving to your family, and consider gifting games or experiences for the family, as well.

I’m not a huge fan of saying no but I do love the idea of earning those bigger tickets items in different ways.  

Discuss a Christmas Budget with your family 

Chances are, everyone will want in on a deal. If you let your family know that you want Christmas to be less expensive this year, they may listen and work with you to cut back on gift-giving and excursions. Ask that your gifts be donated to charity rather than spent on unnecessary items. If you are running a secret Santa or grab bag, make sure that everyone agrees on a price limit and does not break this agreement.

(ideas inspired by research at https://www.moneyunder30.com/christmas-on-a-budget)

Gift cards

These let you control and set the pricing of your gift, though they tend to be less personal—-but always appreciated. Give gift cards to local businesses that you know the person frequents or will enjoy, such as an exercise studio or cute coffee shop.

Make food yourself

Don’t go out of your way to get that fancy cake, instead go to the supermarket to get flour and butter yourself. You can find wonderful Christmas recipes at websites like allrecipes.com and bonappetit.com

Plus, avoid high-end supermarkets and products and ensure that everyone is contributing equally to meals. Plan ahead with your family members to avoid any conflict. It can help to make a list of what everyone needs to make and send out emails to everyone involved in the event.

Christmas Cards

Instead of spending the money to create and mail Christmas cards, send digital cards through email or another online venue. Talk to people in person, through social media, or online to let them know what has been going on with you. Christmas cards are a wonderful tradition and meaningful way to let people know what has been going on with your family. 

Fortunately, there are some inexpensive ways to print them and mail them too.  Walgreens photo usually will print them for you for under $0.50 each.  

Use a smaller Christmas tree or fake Christmas tree. 

Going to get a Christmas tree can be an expensive endeavor. Instead, aim for a smaller tree from an inexpensive farm or a fake tree that you can reuse every year. Avoid spending money on new ornaments and decorations, instead, use what you already have or make your own. You can make an event of this crafting, and make ornaments with your pictures on them.

It really took some out of the box thinking to come up with this Christmas on a budget idea because I’ve never really thought of my tree as an expense.

Avoid eating out 

Christmas is the time to spend all your time warm inside, making your own hot chocolate and cookies. Don’t get fancy hot chocolate from the expensive cafe down the road. Starbucks‘ holiday drinks can be tempting but try instead to recreate them on your own. Or, if you must, make sure you’re a member of Starbucks’ rewards program in order to get free drinks if you spend a certain amount.

Find the best times to shop 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer great deals on decorations and other Christmastime supplies. Christmas gifts and clothing are specially discounted right AFTER the holiday season. You can also look for sales on personalized items like family photo albums.

Look for discount codes 

You can find discount codes to get inexpensive items using websites such as RetailMeNot or Honey. These websites bring together discount codes for different websites. Try not to check out without ensuring that there is a discount code you can use.

Sign up for email lists from stores

These can be bothersome, I know, but around Christmas time they notify you of any deals going on at the moment.

Shop Local 

Local stores can be expensive, depending on time and location. But, chances are, you know them best and will be more aware of when sales are going on. Stay up to date on the shops in your area and when they’re running great sales. In my area, there is a used bookstore has a stack of 50 cent books, for example, that I used to give my friend’s antique books to use as decorations.

Make more money

If you want to raise money to support your Christmas budget, you have a lot of options this holiday season. Many retail stores hire temporary employees to work during the holiday season. The business of the season may guarantee you more money. Also, cut back on unnecessary spending of your own during this season on entertainment, eating out, and clothing. 

Make sure your spending is mostly aimed at Christmas necessities. You can also sell your creations or services if you have a skill or trade. Aim to capture customers looking for Christmas gifts with homemade ornaments or paintings. There are always jobs tutoring or babysitting. Plus, if you have a skill in making art or music, advertise your services in local cafes. It may not be ideal, but working during or near the holidays also helps you bring in extra money. Working on Thanksgiving or Black Friday can bring in a big bonus, and, if you work in food service Thanksgiving is a particularly good day for your paycheck. Ensure, as well, that everyone in your family is contributing to the Christmas expenses.

But wait, you can make money online and from home, I have made over 3K with Swagbucks right from home.  And you can too. I have an entire review on Swagbucks but they give you $10 just for signing up so I would just try it out.  

If Christmas is about expensive glitz and glam, you are doing it wrong. Christmas can be done inexpensively and in a wonderful, personal way. Handmade, heartfelt gifts and decorations are more appreciated than impersonal, expensive gifts. As you’ve seen in this list, there is a never-ending amount of ways to save and even make money during the holiday season. Spending time with your friends and family and expressing gratitude for each other should be the most important aspect of this season. 

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10 thoughts on “Christmas on a Budget Ideas

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    PLanning ahead is a great idea. I am usually done with my shopping before Thanksgiving and it’s because I plan everything out.

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    These are great suggestions! I’d be super happy to save for Christmas. I think discussing a budget with the family would be a great idea.

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    I absolutely love these ideas! Christmas has become far too commercialized and people feel the need to spend a fortune on gifts. Keeping it simple and meaningful is the way to go!

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    I think these are all such great ideas. I always try to keep a budget when it comes to everything. It’s nice to see there are some great ways to save even for the holidays.

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    These are definitely very helpful tips that I can use not only for Christmas but for any other holiday! Thanks for the tips!

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    those are great tips. ive been saving for sure. we haven’t been going out or having such fancy meals at home to save as well. it’s little things. coupons are good too.

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    These are really good tips. It is easy to go over budget during the holidays.

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    These are great tips! Love your list! We stopped buying everybody gifts too and decided to give meaningful experiences the whole family can enjoy instead of super expensive meaningless gifts!

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    Great tips. I’ve been saving by not going out to eat as often as we do for sure. Using grocery coupons are huge savings too.

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