If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know I’m all about saving money and not spending it mindlessly. This doesn’t change during the holiday season!
BUT I can also see how your holiday budget could balloon this year if you’re not careful. Between the “feel-good” points of supporting a business, the desire to have an extra-special Christmas due to the pandemic blah’s, and the rising prices in general, your spending may need some reigning in.
So in true frugal-living style, here are my tips to help.
1. Cut Some Family Out of the Gift-Giving Circuit.
Honestly, it can be as easy as saying “Hey, you want to skip gifts this year?” They’d probably be relieved to hear it!
At the very least, you could frame it as “let’s just do gifts for kids” if that applies to you.
Not that you even have to explain yourself, but you could just blame it on the economy and everyone would understand. This is the perfect excuse to cull some people off your shopping list.
You could also offer to help with a big project like a paint job or a backyard pond. Fun for the whole family, right?
Last year, since we weren’t going to be seeing most people in-person anyway, we brought this idea up. The reactions ranged from neutral to enthusiastic, which is a-okay in my books. It halved the number of presents I had to buy, which is great for my budget and my mental health. (Okay, my wife’s mental health.)
2. Secret Santa Anyone?
The number of people you have to buy a gift for is a sprawling number. When it comes to social circles, reign it in by suggesting a Secret Santa gift exchange instead of a big ado. That way you only buy one gift, and be done with it.
You could also do a fun alternative “Stealing Santa” Where each person shows up with one gift (let’s say in the $10 price range) and people take turns opening gifts from a pile or stealing already-opened gifts. It’s actually kinda fun and can get pretty competitive.
3. Delay Christmas Gift-Giving to Snag Sales.
Ever feel like you’re just shoe-horning some people into your holiday season? Do everyone a favor and delay your get-together. That way, you can see each other when things have slowed down AND you can buy them gifts when there are some good post-Christmas sales all over the place.
Now, obviously, I’m not talking about doing this with your kids. Letting your kids run to the tree on Christmas morning only to be told that their gifts will be delayed is next-level Grinch. But there are probably lots of people in your life who would be more than happy to delay the holiday season with you.
Bonus: there might be some sweet potential for regift action. (But I don’t think I’m supposed to say this part out loud.)
4. Rethink Second-Hand For Kids.
My kids are young and they have absolutely no concept of what is new and what is second-hand. So I have absolutely no issues buying a gift from Craigslist. Having a brand new box to open only slows them down anyway.
This way you can buy them something awesome for less than half the price – and if they stop playing with it after one day, you won’t be annoyed. Win-win!
Now. If you tried all of the above, here is your last step.
5. Do Your Shopping In One Pass. Then Stop.
My kids love Frozen. (The Disney movie, not our plan to cryogenically move ourselves to the next century… But I digress.) So every time we see something Frozen-themed at a store, my wife instinctively asks – “Should we get this?” We’re talking hand soap, sneakers, Legos, coloring books and backpacks. Nothing escapes the merch.
The trouble isn’t that we have too much Frozen stuff (which we do,) it’s that it’s easy to mindlessly pick something up without questioning if you even should.
One small present here, a medium one there, and oh, I can’t pass this thing up. We do this with gifts, random Christmas decorations, and who even knows what else. All those “little purchases” can let our holiday budget really get away from us.
The solution? Do all your shopping in one day. It will be big and exhausting, but you’ll be relieved when it’s done. That way you’ll know exactly what you got and how much you spent, without always being on the lookout for “extras.”