Given the current state of the economy, it’s no wonder people are looking for ways to celebrate Christmas on a budget this year. The good news is, there are ways you can enjoy the holidays and still stay within your budget. It does, however, take a bit of planning on your part and a commitment to stay within the budget you set. Here are a few Christmas ideas to help you celebrate on a budget.
Make a List of Typical Christmas Expenses
Some of the typical Christmas expenses you may incur over the holidays include the following:
- New Christmas outfits for your children
- Christmas cards and stamps
- Christmas decorations
- Christmas tree
- Travel expenses if you plan to travel for Christmas
- Christmas cookies and other goodies if you bake
- Christmas dinner and meals for the holidays
By making a list of the things you usually spend money on around the holidays, you can get a better handle on what you will need and how much it will all cost. You can also use this list to start buying things a little at a time rather than all at once, which can be an overwhelming cost.
If you plan to bake or cook for the holidays, start buying nonperishable items ahead of time when they are on sale. Canned goods and boxed items can be stored in your pantry and it’s much easier on your budget when you buy a few things here and there rather than getting them all at once in one shopping trip. Keep an eye on the flyers local supermarkets publish each week and check for coupons online or in your Sunday paper. Using coupons when items are on sale will double your savings.
Obviously, one of the biggest expenses during the holiday is Christmas presents. The holidays are a time of giving and everyone loves to give gifts, but giving Christmas presents to everyone can really blow your budget.
Make sure you decide in advance how much you can afford to spend on everyone on your list and stick to your budget. It’s very easy to buy things on impulse during the holidays, so you will have to keep yourself in check and make sure you don’t go over the predetermined amounts you have set for gifts.
Whether you have a large family or not, one of the best ways to save during the holidays is to forego gifts for the adults and just buy for the children. Or, do a Secret Santa where each adult draws one name from a hat buys a gift only for one person. Be sure to put a limit on the cost of the gift so no one goes overboard.
All kids have a Christmas wish list and when it comes to Christmas presents for the kids, parents can exchange wish lists to get a better idea of what to buy for each child. By doing this, you will be spending money on something the child really wants rather than wasting money on something they will never use. If you have a large family with a lot of children and you can’t afford to buy gifts for all of them, the kids can do a Secret Santa as well. Each of the children can draw a name and you can help them choose a gift working from the child’s wish list.
If you plan to give gifts to friends and neighbors, homemade Christmas gifts are less expensive than buying gifts. If you bake, Christmas cookies or other holiday baked goods make perfect gifts. Christmas crafts are another great idea and by making gifts, you can add your own personal touch and give a truly unique gift. Let the kids get involved with the Christmas crafts too so they can make something special for their teachers.
Check The Black Friday Ads
Every year retailers publish Black Friday ads listing their sales, so it’s worth it to look through each of the ads and compare prices on the gifts you intend to buy. By doing a price comparison, you can make sure you get the best deal. Even if you only save a few dollars on each item, those dollars can add up to big savings in the end.
Don’t forget to compare prices online too. Internet shopping websites often run Cyber Monday ads with their Christmas deals and again, it’s worth it to compare prices to find the best deals. Many online shopping sites also have coupons and free shipping deals, so plan ahead of time and get on their mailing lists to receive savings alerts.
Have Fun Without Spending Money
Many communities host events during the holidays that are free, such as caroling and tree lighting ceremonies. Schools also hold holiday concerts that can be a lot of fun for the whole family Or, you could simply pack the kids in the car and find one of those neighborhoods that decorate to nines, and enjoy the lights. The best way to find out what’s happening locally is to check community bulletin boards or even search online for holiday events in your area.
Busy schedules and limited budgets can often cause stress during the holidays. Setting aside time with the family to enjoy a local holiday event that is free can go a long way in helping to reduce stress. And remember, it’s the small things you do as a family during the holidays that create memories that will last a lifetime.