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Tips for Saving Money This Holiday Season

Updated on March 10, 2014
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Being Frugal

It’s the holidays again. It’s supposed to be a time when thoughts turn to family and love and kindness. But what if all you can think about is how you’re going to afford to give everyone on your list a nice present?

If budget woes are stressing you out, take a few minutes—and a few deep breaths—to read these helpful tips.

Do you feel bad if you don't go above and beyond?

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Scale It Down

The holidays do not have to be expensive. You can scale down everything that you think is expected of you to a nice manageable amount.

If your time and energy are zapped as well as your wallet, you’re doing too much. You don’t have to give an expensive store-bought gift to every single person you know.

There are alternatives that are just as festive—and thoughtful.

Stretching Your Holiday Bucks

DIY Gifts

No one’s going to ask you to make crafts out of toilet paper rolls or recycled egg cartons. Those are fine for the kids to do.

But if you want grown up crafting ideas, think Martha Stewart. Her ideas are upscale and (mostly) doable with materials you can find in any craft store. Check out www.marthastewart.com. She’s got ideas for crafts that will be received with joy and won’t cause you to blow your whole budget.

Edible Gift Ideas

Think homemade edibles. Everyone loves to eat. And a gift that you made yourself that’s also yummy is a delightful surprise. Invest in the best quality ingredients you can afford. Go for the best gourmet chocolates and nuts.

Also think about the jars or storage containers you’re going to present your gifts in. Mason jars make divine containers for everything from peanut brittle to truffles and cookies. Get the biggest sizes they have. Stock up around early fall when canning season is at its peak. Wait too long and the stores won’t carry them anymore.

Neat Goodie Ideas

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Signature Yourself

Find a recipe or signature dish that you will gift to everyone. You’ll save money if you can buy in bulk.

If your chocolate chip cookies are known around the country, give them as welcome gifts to everyone from coworkers to the mailman to your children’s teachers. No one will complain. In fact, you may start a new tradition that everyone looks forward to each year.

Would you give baked goods as a gift?

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Set a Budget

What if you don’t want to gift food or make a craft? Then you’ll just have to take a good look at your gift-giving list and narrow it down.

Decide on a price you can afford to spend on everyone and stick to it. If you can only afford a $10 gift in order to get everyone something, that’s fine. It’s better than getting yourself into debt and causing yourself more stress.

Frugal Holiday Recipes

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Choose Cash - Not Credit

Which brings up the next point…use cash only. If you have to take out a stack of actual cash money to pay for something, you’ll spend less than you would with plastic. It’s an emotional response. You don’t want to see your hard-earned cash leaving your hands, so you’ll be more selective about what you spend it on.

Try Grab Bags

Consider a family grab bag this year. Instead of buying everyone a gift, put everyone’s name into a hat and each person chooses one member of the family they will buy a gift for.

Be sure to set a dollar amount that everyone sticks to no matter what!

By cutting down your list to just one person instead of many, it will lighten your load and your spirits too.

Frugal Feeding

If you can’t imagine the holidays without a huge feast, plan smart and still have everything you want. If everyone’s coming to your house, plan to do a big roast or turkey and have others bring their own holiday food gifts for the table.

Go to a warehouse club to purchase meat in bulk so you save more money. Instead of serving a full (and pricey) open bar, offer wine and sodas. Guests can bring their own liquor or just drink what’s served. Just spread the word that it’s BYOB and no one will have reason to complain.

Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

Reuse whatever you can. Do you really have to buy another set of paper reindeer dishes when last year’s are still in the closet untouched?

Do you have leftover Christmas cards or other holiday party favors you can use this year? No one will remember what the design was from last year.

And by the way, you don’t have to send a card to every person you have ever met in your life. You can narrow down your list and save on time and postage costs.

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    • profile image

      marellen 5 years ago

      I couldn't agree more with your ideas. My daughter and I are making cookies and other delights for gift baskets this year. Not only do we spend time together but there is no better gift then something made from the heart.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 5 years ago from Minnesota

      These are great ideas. I love making crafts instead of buying gifts - it comes off as very thoughtful and I manage to spend much less on gifts.

    • janices7 profile image

      Janice S 5 years ago

      Great ideas! Homemade food gifts are always well-received by friends and neighbors. And to cut back on costs in our family, we now draw names instead of buying everyone gifts. It has made the holidays much less stressful.

    • sabrani44 profile image

      sabrani44 5 years ago

      Great tips, very useful and interesting.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Great ideas and Christmas will be here again before you know it! Voted you up and useful! Will share with my followers!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      The season will once again be here before we know it and these are great tips to consider ahead of time!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      With the holiday season soon to be here, people should be thinking about how to manage it within their budgets ahead of time.

      I really like the idea of making one's own gifts. There are so many great ideas for doing that right here on hubpages, and almost everyone can cook/bake. Food gifts are almost always useful and can be wrapped so pretty for presentation.

      Now is the time to be making a list and checking it twice in order to stay within budget and to have some time to enjoy the holidays instead of spending them rushing around, etc.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Hi Nicole,

      Its holiday season in my country and I'm sure your ideas will help me to save some money. Thanks for sharing these good points.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Lots of great ideas packed into this hub! Now is the time to start planning Christmas so that when it arrives a person isn't rushing around instead of enjoying friends, family, and all that goes with.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      It's that time of year when this advice can be the most useful. Halloween will soon be over and Christmas is moving into the stores taking up more and more space.

      Given the kind of economy we have, I think people might want to ask themselves if there's anyone on their list who would really appreciate practical gifts because money just isn't stretching very well for a lot of people right now. I know for me a bottle of my favorite shampoo or a box of my favorite facial tissue would really be appreciated. Or if you're sending a gift long distance, send a gift card or cash and save the shipping on something your gift recipient can buy right where they live and get exactly what they want at the same time.

      Very good hub to get people thinking about gift giving right around the corner.

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