Christmas on a Budget

Thanksgiving is literally just two days away, meaning Black Friday (the biggest shopping day of the YEAR) is only THREE days away. Did you know that the average family spends roughly $700-800 on Christmas gifts each year? Just the gifts! That’s not counting Christmas cards, if you buy a fresh tree, visiting Santa, seeing a light show, your Christmas dinner… By the time December 26th comes along, you can easily have spent $1500!

Now, I don’t know about your family, but for our family $1500 is not realistic for the entirety of the Christmas season. So how do you keep costs down, when festivity costs moola? Here are some tips we live by in order to make Christmas still fun, and not empty our kids’ college funds.

Set a limit on the number of gifts

We do four gifts per kid, plus one gift from Santa (so 5 total). Each kid gets something they Want, something they Need, something to Wear, and something to Read. By setting up these categories for the presents, it not only gives me an idea as to what to be on the lookout for on Black Friday, but also, a realistic idea as to how much I’m going to be spending on gifts.

Make Gifts for each other

This is something new we are trying this year with our four year old. Not only does this keep costs down, but it is also so fun to see little eyes light up when they give you something they have created specifically for you. My husband will get with our kids to make something for me, and I will get with them to make something for him.

If this goes well this year, we will encourage our kids to make each other gifts in the future. The twins are too little to make something big brother will really appreciate this year…

Make Christmas gifts for family and friends

Ideas for homemade Christmas gifts are all over Pinterest! This year for aunts and uncles and cousins (don’t tell your kids, if you’re reading this, y’all!), we are created “Christmas Eve Boxes.” These Christmas Eve Boxes will have 1. Santa Cookie mix, 2. hot chocolate, 3. Christmas Kisses, 4. Reindeer feed, and 5. the Christmas story.

By making something like this, not only are you saving money, but you’re also helping your family make memories!

Hit up the Dollar Store for Stocking Stuffers

The Dollar Store is SO under-rated. Not everything in there is junk. Some of my boys’ favorite toys are just Dollar Store dinosaurs! For his 3rd birthday, I decorated with only things I could find at the dollar store, and I spent a TON less than I would’ve at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.

You can find little toys, games, crayons, gadgets, coloring books, snacks, etc, at the Dollar Store! What happens to the stocking stuffers anyways? They get lost, or broken, eaten by the dog, left outside.. My kid doesn’t care what the super hero looks like, as long as he can still save the world with him. Plus, wouldn’t you rather spend $1 for an off-brand action figure that gets lost under the car seat for the next decade, than spend $5-6 on an actual Spiderman doll, that ends up in the exact same spot?

Christmas Breakfast

Growing up, my mom always made a big meal on Christmas Eve, then Christmas day we stayed in pajamas all day, ate left overs, watched movies. It was always very relaxing! When Chad and I got married, we discovered that Christmas Eve dinner doesn’t work for our family because Chad usually has to work Christmas Eve (that pastor life though).

However, I still wanted to keep things fun and relaxing on Christmas Day, so instead of a big Christmas Eve/Christmas Day dinner, we opted to do Christmas morning breakfast. I go all out! Your traditional eggs, bacon, sausage, but I usually also make eggnog pancakes, cinnamon rolls, a fresh fruit salad, hash browns, french press coffee, you name it! The best part about this is, not only is breakfast delicious, and filling, but its SO much cheaper than trying to do a second feast just a month after Thanksgiving.

Check out Groupon for Light Shows and Festivals

I LOVE Groupon. If you’ve never heard of Groupon, it is a totally free app, that business upload deals on. I check Groupon for fairly often throughout the year for things like water park admission, museum tickets, pumpkin patch deals, and so many other things! Sometimes you can find discounts up to 60% off! You just purchase the groupon, take the verification to the place of businesses, and they give you whatever it is you’ve bought. Even if you don’t find something, it’s still totally free to check!

Make a budget

Taking the above tips into consideration, nows the time to sit down and make an actual budget before Black Friday even gets here. If Susie is only getting one thing she wants, you get to narrow down her list with her. Find out what she really, REALLY wants, and that’s her present.

Depending on the age of your kids, the price of each gift does vary. I’m not going to pretend that if you’re the mom of a teenager getting ready to head off to college, you can set a budget of $30 for a new laptop. My kids are still young, so a $30 budget is a little more realistic for a want or need gift. The point is to actually set the limit, and don’t go over it.

Also when budgeting, it’s just as important to look at more than just your presents. Things people tend to forget about: Christmas Tree, New Decorations, Light Shows, Christmas Eve outfits, Christmas Meal, etc.

Good luck this holiday season! I hope these tips help your wallet this Christmas!

For a list of 25 Free or Cheap Christmas Activities to do with your family this season, click here.

For tips on how we balance the birth of Christ while still allowing a little Santa magic during Christmas, click here!

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