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How to Celebrate Christmas on a Budget

From DIY holiday decor to cheap Christmas recipes, these ideas will put you in the holiday spirits!

It seems that every year, you are keeping up with your budget until the holidays hit. It only takes a short amount of time to derail your finances, and December is a prime threat to your meticulously planned budgeting method. This guide to celebrating Christmas on a budget will ensure your stay on top of your spending this holiday season without missing out on the Christmas spirit!

When you begin planning your budget-friendly Christmas celebration, it is important to realize how many expenses go into the most wonderful time of the year. We've outlined savings strategies for every aspect from holiday gifts to festive entertaining to winter decor to Christmas dinner recipes. We also have outlined ideas for limiting annual or unnecessary expenses that can ruin your budget. 

Find out how you can keep your finances on track this holiday season while still making it the best Christmas yet for your family. You'll even find non-traditional ideas that can adjust the holiday for your family's preferences.

Creating a Christmas Budget

When you start thinking about the holiday season, planning is important. Your finances can quickly be derailed if you don't have a holiday strategy determined. It's best to start planning for the holiday season months ahead of time as this time of year has many added expenses like travel, gifts, and decorations. Setting money aside each month for the holidays is the perfect place to start for keeping your December free of financial frets, but there are other actions you can take to ensure a worry-free winter.

  1. Set a Budget in Advance. When you start thinking about the holidays, determine how much you are willing to spend on Christmas. If you have a set figure in mind, it'll be easier to track your expenses and limit unnecessary purchases. From a base figure, divide your budget into categories like gifts, travel, decorations, and food. You may not match your budget exactly your first year, but you can take Christmas budgets from previous years to gauge expenditures in the future.
  2. Shop Throughout the Year. You don't have to do all of your holiday shopping from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. You'll find better deals at other times of the year as you can shop clearance racks for last year's styles and toys that can be gifted this year. You'll save money with deals and will spread out the holiday gift expenses instead of containing them to one month.
  3. Buy 1 or 2 Items Each Year. You can keep your Christmas budget on track by investing in lasting holiday items each year. By buying a few items each year, you will start a holiday collection that will continually build without a large one-time or annual expense.

Affordable Christmas Gift Ideas

In addition to shopping throughout the year, there are many ways to save money on Christmas presents. Don't let your budget limit you in this time of giving! You can get your entire family in on the money-saving fun this holiday season with these cheap Christmas gift ideas.

  1. Set Dollar Limits. Set present limits with your friends and family. If you are on the same page with others, you won't feel bad about how much you spend. When you have a large number of people on your list, it's important to set limits so you don't overspend on any individual.
  2. Institute a New Gifting System.  Many large families will create a new way of giving presents so everyone doesn't have to buy something for everyone else. Secret Santa is one way to limit the number of presents everyone has to purchase. Everyone draws a name and buys for that one person; then the family exchanges gifts together on Christmas.
  3. DIY Christmas Gifts. If you're in need of inexpensive gift ideas, make presents yourself. DIY Christmas gifts allow you to focus on your interests while customizing presents for your loved ones. Easy homemade presents are also perfect for those on your list that don't warrant a large expense like teachers, neighbors, and coworkers.
  4. Go Giftless. The easiest way to cut back on expenses is to go giftless for a year or with individuals. Spend quality time together instead of focusing on the season of consumerism. Just make sure to discuss it with them first so they don't buy you anything either.

Cutting Unnecessary Holiday Expenses

Christmas brings a lot of expenses, but some of them are completely unnecessary and aren't worth their costs. We've outlined common Christmas costs that can be completely canceled to save you money this holiday season.

  1. Wrapping Paper. When giving presents, you are probably spending nearly as much on wrapping as you are gifts. Wrapping paper and decorative bags are avoidable expenses that can be replaced with DIY wrapping ideas from common household items.
  2. Christmas Lights. Everyone loves homes that are brilliantly decorated for Christmas, but holiday lights have multiple associated costs. Not only do you have to purchase the strings of lights (that may only last a few years depending on how you store them) but your electricity bill will largely increase from running the lights at night.
  3. Disposable Goods. When hosting Christmas dinner, it is easy to fall for disposable plates, silverware, and paper products that are winter-themed. These are completely unneeded as you already have reusable products. An extra load of dishes is more attractive than spending $20+ dollars a year on products that are designed to be trashed.
  4. Real Christmas Trees. While real Christmas trees make your home smell and feel more like Christmas, they are not cost-efficient. Many artificial trees will cost the same as real trees and last longer than a decade, so a one-time investment will save you money every year for the foreseeable future.

DIY Christmas Decor

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas outside, but you've got to match the wintery weather to your indoor decor! However, holiday decorations don't have to cost a fortune. Shopping after-season clearance for the next year is one way to save on your holiday decor, but you can also make your own Christmas decor to liven up your home during the holidays. Make some of these winter decor ideas and make sure to place them in airtight containers to make them last for years to come!

Frugal Christmas Recipes

Your Christmas feast doesn't have to break the bank. Common Christmas fare can be quite expensive to feed a large family. If you've already opted for a traditional Thanksgiving, you could always try a non-conventional Christmas dinner consisting of your family's favorites. You can also celebrate your family's heritage with conventional dishes from your culture.

If you want to keep your Christmas dinner traditional, try one of our favorite budget-friendly holiday recipes below!

What are some things you do to keep Christmas on a budget?

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I pick a secret santa in all my group of friends that way I won't have to get everyone a gift. I also handmade most of my gifts and wrap them myself. As for parties, I don't throw more than one and j spend Christmas with my family every year. This keeps me from derailing off my budget

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