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Christmas On A Budget [YES, IT IS POSSIBLE!!]

Before you know it, Christmas will be upon us. Many people are already purchasing gifts, preparing for get-togethers, and more. In fact, in 2019, the average Christmas spending per person was around $1,500. And while things may be a bit different this year, that doesn’t mean you have to bust your Christmas budget. Here’s how to prepare for Christmas on a budget, and stick to it.

Christmas On A Budget – Yes, It IS Possible!

Even though this year has had a ton of ups and downs, Christmas is still a great time to rejoice with family, relax, and spend time reflecting on gratefulness. But that doesn’t mean you have to go over budget to do any of those things. Here’s what to do instead.

Have A Conversation

If you do not have the money for Christmas gifts this year, do NOT feel guilty. Many people are in difficult spots or can’t afford gifts around this time of year. But you shouldn’t have to go into debt to show people you love them and care about them (and I don’t know a single decent person that would expect you to).

So instead, enjoy what Christmas is really about, and explain to family and friends that you will not be giving gifts this year. You don’t have to say why (unless you want to), but don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know.

Also, if you feel guilty about not giving gifts, ask them to forgo giving gifts to you so no one feels bad.

If you do get pushback, remember that it’s up to you how you spend your money, no matter what anyone thinks. And if gifts are all someone expects from you, they might not be the best person to be around in general.

Christmas on a BudgetSet a Spending Budget

If you can budget for gifts this year, set your maximum budget. Then, divide that by the number of people you plan on getting gifts for. Take that number and keep it in mind when looking for gifts. For example, if you have $300 and 12 people to shop for, your budget is $25 per person.

Secret Santa

If your budget is tighter this year, but there are tons of people to shop for, try Secret Santa this year!

Everyone can draw names out of a hat (this virtual hat is great if social distancing!) and then buy one gift for the person they pulled. That way, everyone gets a gift, but you only have to buy one gift yourself!

This is really great for coworkers, friends, and big families. Of course, if people want to get extra gifts, they can, but this way everything is equal and everyone gets at least one gift (and you don’t go over budget buying a bunch of gifts).

Prepare Stockings Instead Of Gifts

Another way to save money on gifts is to prepare stockings instead. You can go to stores like The Dollar Tree or 5-Below and get packages of similar gifts, stockings, and more – all for under $50. Plus, many people keep their stockings each year, which can mean your gift functions as two!

I do this every year, and make stockings for my family of three, my mother-in-law, two sister-in-law’s, and niece. Here’s an example of stockings that I did last year (for $40).

  • 7 stockings $7
  • 7 journals $7
  • 1 set of 4 bath bombs (for the women) $2
  • 4 nail kit sets (for the women) $4
  • 2 packs of crayons (for the kids to use in the journals) $2
  • 7 sets of affirmation cards $7
  • 3 candy canes (came in a pack of 12, so I grabbed 2 packs) $2
  • 7 pairs of fuzzy socks $7
  • A beanie (for my husband’s stocking – he loves beanies) $1

All of that filled the smaller stockings I got from the dollar tree, and cost me just $40! That’s 7 gifts for just under $6 each.

Of course, you can build your stockings how you want them to be. You can spend as little or as much as you want to, and customize it based on who you’re shopping for. But stockings are a great way to create a bunch of gifts for less money.

Related: 8 Ways to Stay Out of Debt This Christmas

best way to save for ChristmasGift Homemade

There are so many homemade gifts you can make, no matter what your skill level. Some of my favorite homemade gifts that I’ve made personally have been hot chocolate bombs, infused salts and sugars, infused olive oils, and even alcohol (for family members who love a good cocktail).

Here is a huge list of homemade items you can make, all under $20!

Get Cashback

If you plan on shopping online, make sure to get cash back. Sites like Rakuten make it super easy to connect your online accounts and debit card. You can also get cash back from other apps on your phone just by scanning your receipts.

Sure, cash back may not save you money right now, but it does save you money in the long run. By getting cash back, you’ll be able to make future purchases for less.

Keep Decorations Minimal

Besides gifts, Christmas is also a time where many people go all out for decorations. But sometimes, simple is best. Lights, trees, blow-up Christmas items, and more can get expensive fast.

  • Instead, decorate your tree with popcorn (older generations did this often and it always looked great).
  • Reuse citrus peels.
  • Grab decor from your local thrift store or dollar store.
  • And keep it simple! Sometimes less really is more.

Potluck For Christmas Dinner

While many people are socially distancing this year, some are choosing to spend it with their families. If you’re part of the latter, this doesn’t mean you have to be the one to cater everything and spend a bunch of money. Instead, keep Christmas dinner simple, and see if others can bring side dishes, plates, forks, or even drinks.

That way, you can make the main course (and maybe even dessert), but you will have a full course meal by the time everyone brings a side or two. If you choose to have a potluck, make a sheet of what everyone will bring so you know how much food you’ll have and what kinds.

Final Thoughts: How To Prepare For Christmas On A Budget

As you can see, it’s not hard to prepare for Christmas on a budget, but it does take a little planning into account. Overall, Christmas isn’t about gifts or money, it’s about spending time with those you love. And as long as you got that, I’d say you’re very lucky indeed.

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AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard

Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.

1 Comment

  1. We’ve altered our gift giving with our son and his family. Fortunately we haven’t suffered a loss of income during the pandemic but a couple of years ago we all agreed that the adults would just do stockings for each other and we would concentrate on gifts for our grandson. They live several hundred miles away so not being close we don’t really get a sense of what they want or need. Sometimes the stockings are a bit overflowing but it is working out well.

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