In today’s day and age when Christmas comes into the conversation it seems to be followed by the idea of “bigger is better.” Everyone is looking for the best gifts, brightest lights, and most stunning decorations to “wow” friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good holiday display. The problem is with all the glitz and glam dollar signs are also attached.
For the last 7 years we lived on a super tight budget. Life in seminary with basic housing and living costs paired with tuition rates meant we usually had more month at the end of the money. So I had to learn to get creative when it came to things like decorating for Christmas and the gifts we gave.
Here are a few tips and tricks I have tried over the years.
I absolutely love decorating for Christmas. It is the one time of the year that breaks up the mundane that I look at every day. One of these days I want to be one of those people that decorate for each holiday and season…but that is a thought for another day. When we moved to Fort Worth we sold or gave away most of our Christmas decor. It just wasn’t worth the hassle of moving. Plus we had one of those super trendy white Christmas trees for a while and I was kinda over is. So the excuse to give it away was a good one.
Anyway, when we got to Fort Worth between housing costs, tuition, food, and paying for a baby we just didn’t have the money for the full blown Christmas I was used to. But the one thing we had EVERYWHERE was thrift stores. Off we went. I found several of my now favorite holiday decorations tossed on the shelves of the local thrift stores. Pairing that with hand made items and little bit of creativity we had one of the better decorated Christmas we had ever had. From then on before we went to anywhere like Target, Wal-Mart, or even…gasp…Hobby Lobby I made a trip to the thrift stores.
First of all let me say that this is an area that has always been one we have worked hard to be thrifty on even before we were on such a tight budget. While I love giving and receiving gifts I am one that really wants the things I get and give to be functional. We already have such limited space to store things so I work really hard for the things that come into my home to be intentional.
With that said, one way we have worked toward saving money on Christmas gifts is to focus more on experience gifts. These are things like visits to museums or other places like that or even subscription kits that can be used by the whole family. Our family has really enjoyed the cooking kits by Raddish Kids, for example.
When it comes to things for the adults in our lives I prefer things that will make life a little bit easier. This tends to be things like cookie kits, meal kits, or other services that can relive the pressure of day to day life. Another thing I like to do, that usually only costs me my time, is to give parents a date night. I will take the kiddos for an afternoon or evening and mom and dad get some time away. This may be an actual date or it could just be the thing they need to get the rest of their holiday prep handled without kids underfoot.
Let’s be honest. Preparing a big Christmas meal is a lot of work. And it can cost a lot of money if you don’t do it right. One way we cut down on the cost is to buy up in bulk at Thanksgiving. It is the week of/before Thanksgiving that grocery stores usually have the best sales on things like turkey, ham, flour, sugar, etc. All the things that you really need to make the best holiday meals. So stock up for the long haul. Most of the stuff is either shelf stable or has a very long freezer life.
Another great way to save money during the holiday meal is to share the work with friends and family. Make it potluck style where everyone is responsible for their portion. This takes not only the cost off of everyone but also the work load. Who wants to be trapped in the kitchen the whole day when you could be spending time enjoying the day.
And finally, cook from scratch. Instead of buying the boxed mixes or the pre-cooked foods make it from scratch. The basic ingredients are usually a lot cheaper and you get more than you need so you have more for the future. And let’s be honest..food made from scratch in general just tastes way better.
So there ya go. A few simple ways we work to cut down the costs and celebrate Christmas on a budget. What are some of your budget friendly tips for the holiday season?
See you all tomorrow!