With the economy how it is, most people are spending less on Christmas this year. This is a perfect time to create a simpler Christmas. Set the intention on focusing more on meaning and less on buying and you won’t even feel deprived.

Have family trips to see the lights, make your own paper snowflakes, volunteer together, read stories of hope, set aside times of silence, enjoy what you have, and love one another.


Photo by Stephmcg

Here are a few practical ideas on saving money for the holidays:

  • Say no to new decorations – I am sure you already have plenty. Is it really worth it to buy new ones to make sure you have the "in" decorations?
  • Buy a smaller tree this year.
  • Take a cue from the Magi and get only 3 gifts for the kids.
  • Make a pact with sisters and brothers to not exchange gifts this year.
  • Go to the fall craft shows for inexpensive gifts that are handmade.
  • Make a photo album of your digital prints for a family member at Snapfish.
  • You can save time and money by shopping online. Go to a place like PriceGrabber to find the lowest price. You can also fine new and used things on ebay. And do a quick Google search for a coupon. If you have a ColdWater Creek shirt, search for "ColdWater Creek", coupon.
  • Have a night out with your spouse instead of exchanging gifts.
  • If you run out of Christmas wrapping paper, try using brown bags you decorate, an old poster you are done with, scrapbook paper you already have, pictures from old calendars for small presents.
  • Create a budget now and stick with it.
  • Draw names instead of buying for everyone in the family. My Dad is one of 10 so they pick something like ties for the men, and kitchen towels for the women. Then they pick, trade, swap and laugh.
  • Volunteer to serve Christmas dinner together instead of creating a lavish meal yourself.
  • Stock up on food when they are on sale so you aren’t getting high priced last minute items.
  • Buy family gifts like games, movie night, etc. instead of individual gifts.
  • Use extra scraps of wrapping paper as gift tags. Fold them over and write the to and from information inside.
  • Look at the gift ideas at Buy Nothing Christmas.
  • Send Christmas postcards instead of cards.
  • Send cards to less people.
  • Hit the freebie sites now for stocking stuffers.

What are your favorite tips for saving money at Christmas time?

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  • Libby

    What a great post. I’m going to keep this one for reference and inspiration. For the first year ever my family is doing a secret santa this year which I think is great. Mind you it’s going to cost me more money as I usually only do baking for the family :-).


  • niki

    Great list!

    Earlier today I was brainstorming on how I save money on holidays. We’re on the same wavelength today.


    Our family really enjoys focusing more on spending time together and creating traditions and experiences rather than putting all the focus on gift giving. Last year we strived to do 2-3 festive activities per week in December to get into the spirit. We did a little research and found many, many activities and events in our area that were free or very cheap. It was the most meaningful holiday we’d had in years!

    Thanks for the Link Love, too.

  • Robin

    My husband had to change jobs last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The place he worked for went bankrupt. Prior to that we had some on-going legal expenses and some unexpected other expenses. It was so bad we had to take money out of his retirement to pay bills. So we made the decision to tell our four adult children and grandchildren that we did not have the money to buy them Christmas gifts. My husband was able to come up with $100 cash and we each got $50 to spend on each other. It was such fun to stick to our plan and our budget. Christmases past, I could not have told you three days later what I had gotten from him or what I had given him. Almost a year later I can tell you exactly what I gave and got. And we still have, use and treasure the items. Because we had so little to spend, we put a lot of thought into it and gave meaningful gifts. We plan to do the same thing again this year. And there were no credit card bills hanging around for months afterward. One word of caution when you cut down and cut back, be prepared for negative feedback and repercussions from family and friends who #1. Don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas and #2. Equate love with the amount of money spent on them. And one of my nicest memories is that our oldest son went to church with us on Christmas Eve. I have saved the voice mail he left telling us he was looking forward to going to church with us. Just a reminder that the best gift can’t be bought – it’s a memory made.

  • Joey

    Great article! Personally, I’ve been using Swaptree to save money on books and DVDs for the kids – I’ve been getting some brand new stuff too, so I’ll probably save it for Christmas. Join up and friend me – username jpaterson – http://www.Swaptree.com

  • Mary@SimplyForties

    You came up with some good ideas. I especially like the idea of buying a family gift of a game or movie for a little Christmas togetherness. I find the best gift ideas I have come in the years when I have to scrimp!

  • Karla

    Hi Beth,

    Great tips, thanks!

    Rather than pay for a tree this year my husband and five year old son cut down one from our woods. It’s a little Charlie Brownish, but we all love it just the same.

    We’re also having fondue for Christmas dinner, which will be fun and much less expensive than buying a turkey or a ham.

  • Duster

    Loved the article!

    This year we decided to have Christmas Eve breakfast instead of a huge dinner for the extended family gathering.{no desserts}

    We redeemed some airline miles that we weren’t going to use and converted them into gift cards {Walmart, Lowes, & Target} In the past we have done this for restaurant gift cards, but these are more practical. We gave some $50 cards to our adult children for ‘fun money” since they are having a tough time financially this year.

    My folks finally agreed to STOP exchanging gifts among adults in our family. This happened due to health issues which prevented them from shopping. An amazing thing happened-the brothers and sisters started coming home around Christmas, now that the pressure to provide gifts for everyone was gone. Everyone still gives the children presents though. You can always buy yourself something with all that money you aren’t spending giving people stuff they don’t want or need.

    Something we did with extended family one year was the “Bad Santa” game which requires each person to bring a wrapped gift {$10 limit}. It is a trading game and it was great fun playing it.

    My husband and I have birthdays and an anniversary around Christmas. This year we found a piece of previously owned piece of furniture we liked and bought it for each other as our “everything rolled into one” present.

  • Erinn Dahling

    Thank you so much. My husband and I are very young with two children, ages 3 and 5 months. My husband is working hard while I go to school and finish up my last semester before I can finally be a paralegal. I also work part time. Between all of that, we scrounge up about 3200 per month, but it is through our blood, sweat, and tears. This list has helped me immensely and now I feel confident I can make a Christmas we can all be proud of while still saving and gearing up for the next big transition in our lives. Thanks!

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