We have 5 people living in our household, with my extended family we often have up to 15 additional people for Christmas. This includes the children that have grown and left home and bring their own families back for the holidays. So you can imagine that when I say Christmas on a Budget I really have to budget.
I have discovered that its very very important to shop for Christmas year round. That means that if I find it on sale in January and know it will fit next Christmas, its a good idea to go ahead and buy it at 50% off rather than wait an entire year and hope for the best and my finances. By incorporating this into my shopping agenda I have already saved (over 50%) by purchasing it early. Not to mention that I can cross that off my list and be that much farther ahead (already ahead in January!).
My next destination is usually Wal mart where they tend to have some real blow out prices year round on various items. Watch these sales closely. Shop for things in sets (I.e. bath sets, soap sets, make up sets etc.). Then find some baskets (either around the house or at yard/garage sales or your local dollar store) and create your own gift baskets. Knowing that grandma likes a specific lotion and finding it on a closeout sales you can really stock up and take care of her birthday and Christmas all in one shopping trip.
Check out your local dollar store. Yes, I know, you worry about quality. Here are some things that are just fine to buy at your local dollar store. I often shop for gift bags (available year round) at the dollar store. Some even come available as “2 for $1.00”. Yup folks, that’s 2 gift bags for $1.00. What a deal! Add some tissue paper or shredded paper and you have instant gift wrapping!
Don’t stop with gift bags, greeting cards, Christmas cards and more are also readily available. For the new bride you can often stock up on a unique gift. Make her up a gift basket of her favorite scents, cleaning supplies (include a bucket and sponges), candles, picture frames and more. You can be selective and choose items that appear to be higher quality or go whimsical and try out a different look all together. For as little as $5.00 you can have a gift all done up that looks very classy. If you combine this with items from a bath set you purchased at Wal mart or somewhere it will look even more expensive. Who says it has to be expensive to shop?
How you wrap your gifts makes a big difference. My sister always wraps her gifts to look very classy. With raffia, cellophane type papers and more. Inside you might find a coffee cup and your favorite brand of coffee or a great book to read. The wrapping is half the present. Presentation says a lot so don’t hesitate to get creative and add candy canes, raffia or even an inexpensive ornament that you grabbed up at the dollar store.
I have friends that love to knit and crochet. I found some great yarn that retails for over $7.00 normally for only $1.00 at the dollar store. I scooped up an armful of it and wrapped three skeins with a nice raffia bow and then wrapped that up in pretty paper to give to my friends. Just make sure to remove the tags identifying where you got it and how much you spent. My friends were delighted and I didn’t have to break my budget.
One year I found myself overwhelmed with so many different ornaments and Christmas decorations. My solution? I shopped at home, that is, I went through he boxes and picked out some of the older children’s favorites and wrapped them up nicely with a note that I was giving them back memories from their childhood. I explained how they always argued over who put this or that up and they were the one that gets this one. Or perhaps that I received this after they were born and I wanted them to have it. The ornaments became treasures to my children and I decluttered my Christmas decorations.
For the new bride and groom give the spouse a small album of his or her new spouses baby pictures. It will be treasured and they can see how they became the handsome man or beautiful woman they are over the years.
Another favorite is for everyone to go in on a large ticket item together. If one of the recipients really really wants or needs something that is very expensive, get everyone else in on the gift. If everyone contributes say $5.00 to the item and you have 20 people contributing, then you have $100 to purchase said gift. If there is any money left over have an agreement on what to do with the money left over such as another inexpensive gift or refunding a portion equally to everyone that contributed.
Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. You can make it enjoyable with tradition and a little bit of creativity. I have an older son that always makes a specific type of cookie for Christmas. My older daughter has another recipe that she always makes and brings.
My parents always bring other food items when they come to celebrate with us also. By dividing out the menu this way it saves on the food budget and everyone is ahead. No one has to pay for the brunt of the meal and we all save together.
Celebrating the meaning of the holiday rather than the cost is so much more exciting and fun for everyone. Staying within our budgets is so stress relieving. Especially when January rolls around.