When your Christmas budget is tight, it can be a challenge to find the joy in the season. But it doesn’t have to!
Christmas can still be a time of giving and sharing even if you don’t have a lot of cash available for gifts. You just need to do a couple of things; be creative and plan ahead.
Now that November is here, it’s time to put that plan into action – if you haven’t already.
So, find some Christmas music to listen to or maybe a holiday movie to help get you in the spirit and let’s get that plan happening.
How to give awesome gifts when you’re on a tight Christmas budget
Before you jump into the creative stuff, have a think about who you need or want to give gifts to. Here are a few suggestions, beyond immediate family, to get you started:
- Secret Santa (work, school, etc.)
- Friendship groups (or church or clubs)
The other thing to remember is that you’re not trying to make the recipient’s dreams come true with the gift, you’re giving them a token to express your appreciation and gratitude. So, you don’t need to spend a lot of money.
Personalized Christmas Cards
Even in this time of email, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat lots of people still send and appreciate Christmas cards, especially if you’ve taken the time to write a personalized message.
You can always get heavily reduced boxes of Christmas cards shortly after Christmas each year so if you don’t already have a ready supply of cards, put this on the list for next year. The greatest cost, other than time, in sending Christmas cards is postage so hand-deliver as many as you can!
In the same spirit as Christmas cards is the Christmas Newsletter. You can either buy a pack of Christmas printer paper at the office supply store or you can jump onto Picmonkey, make your own graphics using their overlays and put it all together in Word.
The newsletter is especially valuable for friends and family who live out of town or overseas.
Deciding whether or not to re-gift can be a challenge. There are two things to consider before you put that unwanted gift back in the closet; are you ever going to use it and, do you know someone who would love it? If you’re never going to use it then the person who gave you the gift wasted their money.
If you’re never going to use it then the person who gave you the gift wasted their money. And, that’s never a good thing.
Plus, if you know someone who’d love the gift then you’re bringing joy to someone’s life and ensuring the original gifter hasn’t wasted their money.
I think that’s a win/win situation. Not to mention, one less guilt inspiring item of clutter in your life. Another win.
Not to mention, one less guilt inspiring item of clutter in your life. Another win.
Also, use this experience as a reminder that gift-giving is as much about the thought that goes into the purchase as it is about the purchase itself.
Discounted gift cards
Gift cards are a great way to buy gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list. You know they’ll get real value from your gift, too.
The trick, though, is to get them when they’re discounted. This can be harder in some locales that others. In Australia, there are sites like Gift Cards On Sale which shows discounted gift cards available right now.
In the US, there are a lot of options, here are just a few:
Build your own coffee table book
This one is especially suited to grandparents. Put together a collection of your favorite family photos and present them in the form of a coffee table book.
Crafty folks can put their scrapbooking talents (and paper stockpile) to good use or jump on the computer if you’re more adept with digital formatting.
There are also companies like Blurb where you can create a real coffee table book at a reasonable price. This option would be perfect if you are putting together a visual family history as you can print a book for each family member.
Present your own artwork, use a photo or jump onto Pinterest and check out all the free printables that are widely available.
You can even get clever on PicMonkey and create an image of your favorite quote with fancy typography and overlays.
Picture frames, whether standing or wall-mounted, can be picked up for a small price from office supply stores, dollar stores or even thrift shops. You can even buy unfinished wooden frames from craft stores and create a gift that’s unique from all angles.
You can even buy unfinished wooden frames from craft stores and create a gift that’s unique from all angles. Or, make the personalized frame the gift. The options are only limited by your imagination.
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If your Christmas budget is really tight then offer your time as a gift instead.
Create your own IOU vouchers (by hand, using Word or an online graphics platform like PicMonkey) offering the recipient services like:
- Washing the car
- You get the idea…
Make sure you offer something that has value to the recipient and is something you are happy to do for them. You might also want to include a use-by date, too.
If you plan ahead, you can be purchasing ingredients in the months leading up to the holiday season so you don’t need to include these costs into your specific Christmas budget.
Invest in some holiday-themed cookie cutters and they’ll serve you well for many years. Plus, you can use them for more than just cookies. I’ve used my Christmas ornament cutters to make giant chocolate freckles, as well as brownies and rice krispy treats.
Need some ideas? You can’t beat Pinterest for a serious dose of inspiration.
Grocery gift hampers
Christmas is gift hamper season but most of the commercial hampers available seem (to me at least) to be full of products you’ve never heard of before and cost five times the value of the items in them. So… Make your own!
Grab cheap a basket or gift box and put together a collection of items from the grocery store you know the recipient will use. Check out Pinterest for some inspiration!
I used to do this for my grandmother because she never really wanted or needed anything in particular. I’d include all her favorite treats, the ones she wouldn’t necessarily buy for herself like spiced cookies and English nougat plus the items I knew she used all the time like her favorite loose-leaf tea.
Points to keep in mind when you’re putting together your hamper:
- Make sure the product has plenty of time before its use-by date
- The components are things the recipient already uses
- Consider a theme: travel, personal care, sweet treats, and
- The presentation is everything.
Once you’ve collected the components of your hamper, make sure you assemble them in an attractive way.
Give a gift to your community – volunteer
No matter how tight your Christmas budget might be, there are those in your community, or nearby, who not only have no money to spend at Christmas, they might have no family or home either.
Give a gift to your community (and yourself) by volunteering at a shelter or other charity in your area that serves people over the holiday.
Or, if you’re not taking part in any celebrations on Christmas Day and your workplace is open that day, volunteer to be on duty so those with families can enjoy the day with their children.
Regardless of your belief system, Christmas is seen as a time of peace and goodwill to others. Put the spirit of Christmas into practice by lending a hand to those who need it most. You’ll never believe how rich you’ll feel.
Related posts you might enjoy:
- 9 Simple Gift Ideas Minimalists Will Love
- 7 Easy Ways to Save Cash for a Stress-Free Holiday Season
- The 12 Best Christmas Movies to Watch During the Holidays
- Planning a Debt Free Christmas
- Did you know it’s only 10 weeks until Christmas?
What have you done in the past to not spend a lot of money during Christmas season? Are there any other tips you want to share?
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