Christmas is hot on our heels. If you’re like most folks, just wondering where all that time has gone, take heart. I have more frugal Christmas tips to help you cut costs and make great savings. Yes, even at the very last minute.
Prepare TWO Lists Now
To keep it simple, you need two lists now. No, I’m not kidding. At the last hour, you still need lists to work with.
You save more time when you have lists to direct you. They should take no more than half an hour.
The first list is your Christmas Grocery Shopping List
Get your free list here which has been pre-filled for you. See this saves you time. You may like to add in your own items if they’re not here.
The second list is your Christmas Gift List
I have a sample below. You may like to start with the what I call the ‘MUST’ people first.
What do I mean?
They include your closest family members like your spouse, kids and parents. You don’t have to fill in every slot if you can’t. You must fill in the names though.
|Names||Max amount to spend||Actual amount spent||Difference|
If you’re very pressed for time, you may have to give the ‘NON-MUST’ people a miss. They include your neighbors, co-workers and distance relatives. If you really have to give them something, think in terms of ‘bulk’. For example, can I make a huge amount of food that can be shared easily.
Try making this super easy cranberry sauce. It’s cheap, fast, easy and delicious.
Why don’t you have a potluck?
It saves you effort and time. Because everyone brings a plate to share, it will take a lot of pressure off you.
Never ever buy on a whim
Always ask yourself:
Do I need this?
Can I borrow it?
Can I survive without it?
Can I find an alternative?
Can I make an exchange with a friend?
Can I buy it secondhand?
Some savvy co-workers who are grandparents usually ask to borrow child safety seats for their visiting grandchildren during Christmas.
Keep within your budget
Stick to your budget.
If you exceed your budget for an item, see if you can reduce the amount of another item. Maybe a nice cake you can bake, or strawberry jam to make.
Always hunt for cheaper alternatives
There’re always cheaper chocolates with great taste. Try a small box and you may be surprised how good other lower-priced brands of chocolate can taste 🙂
Decide on your why
Do you really need to buy something or is it just the happy experience of buying you’re after?
For me, there’s no reason to buy anything, as my family have stopped the gift-giving tradition. But I’ll visit the malls to experience the excitement and decor. After all, the mood and atmosphere of Christmas is infectious.
You might be thinking that this is a dangerous move. It can be. But after years of frugal training, I know I won’t spend unnecessarily.
When visiting malls, make sure you buy only what’s necessary.
Another reminder: don’t shop when you’re vulnerable, as when you’re starving or feeling emotional.
Don’t buy paper plates with cutesy Christmas themes
Yes, those paper plates are so beautiful. My guests will love them. Besides, they’ll save me effort and time.
But they’ll cost you money unlike crockery. Are they really worth it? They get thrown away in the end and it’s as good as throwing your money away.
Don’t buy napkins
Must you buy Christmas-themed paper napkins too?
If you must, opt for plain ones, which are often cheaper. Cut them neatly into quarters. We don’t need to waste an entire napkin just to wipe our mouth 🙂
Don’t buy Christmas crackers
Maybe it’s time to cut out the frills. Or buy just a few crackers for fun 🙂
Don’t leave your Christmas lights on
My neighbors do. They have this habit of leaving their external Christmas lights on day AND night.
Leave the Christmas lights on for a limited time at night. That’s when they really shine and delight! You save money on power too.
Buy them if you must. But don’t get carried away by buying lots of wrapping paper just because they are cheap.
Did you know the shiny bits and glittery stuff you see on wrapping paper are not recyclable at all? This is bad for the environment and contributes to landfill waste.
Our family reuses wrapping paper from gifts that have been carefully unwrapped.
We also save the Scotch tape to reuse. This is for work-related Christmas events like Secret Santa, as we don’t celebrate Christmas by giving one another presents anymore.
An alternative way is to use butcher’s paper, maps, or even pages of a book you no longer need for gift wrapping.
You can also put your presents in a fabric bag or scarf that anyone can reuse again.
Have a read of 12 alternative ways on how to gift wrap for a greener earth.
Don’t buy Christmas cards
Send e-cards instead.
They’re faster, they save you postage money and you’re helping to conserve the environment.
Skip extra frills like Christmas ribbons
They do lend a nice touch, but they’re just frills that cost money.
Personally, I wouldn’t buy them. But it’s really up to you.
Save on travelling
Need to travel to another location to celebrate?
See if you can share the car trip with a friend to save on gas. You’re reducing pollution too. Why not offer to return the favor the following year?
Go for personalized experiences
Need to tighten your wallet further?
Be the first to start this trend in your family.
Write a personalized voucher to give another member of your family.
For example, your voucher offer is to give your other half a massage once a week for 15 minutes over 3 weeks.
Or your kids are allowed an extra hour at the playground over 4 visits. Can you come up with more experiences for your family?
Say “No” to a new outfit for Christmas this year
Have a good look inside your wardrobe and see what you have.
Sometimes you may spot an outfit you haven’t worn for years. Take it out, match it up with new accessories. You’ll be surprised at the effect.
Another way is to swap an outfit with a friend just for this special day if you’re about the same size. Try them out to see that they fit.
Yet another strategy is to alternate buying your new outfits. Give them a miss this year and buy them the following year.
Why not pop by a thrift shop? you’ll never know what gems you might chance upon, at a fraction of its new price 🙂
Avoid the supermarket traps
Don’t be tempted by supermarket offers, like me. Get your 9 Supermarket Saving Tips here to avoid the overspending trap.
Plan your grocery list and really stick to it.
As supermarkets usually close for the holidays, I know that feeling of fear and insecurity. What if I run out of . . . ?
Relax! With some planning, you’ll not run out of ingredients. You can ask a neighbor or friend for ingredients in case you need some.
Don’t waste your food
Use leftovers for lunch or snacks. Get proven tips here to cut down on food waste, especially during this festive season.
Scour the best thrift shops in your city. Look up your local Facebook Marketplace.
Check out my other post where others are selling their stuff.
Do you really need brand new toys or books? It seems we’ve been programmed by advertising companies to buy new items ! What’s wrong with giving items that are near new?
Don’t go to malls if you don’t have to
Protect yourself and your wallet with a shopping list.
Only buy if a shop has a great sale that matches your item in your list. Even then, you can still negotiate before making a purchase. Try asking, “Can you help me out? My . . .is really keen on this . . . , but . . . A few dollars off would make a difference to our family“.
Try it. You may get lucky. The worst that can happen is a “no”.
If you’re planning to give homemade gifts like baked cakes, or sweet treats, make sure you’re organized with getting your ingredients ready.
Make sure the amount of ingredients is sufficient too. We don’t want to be short of an egg or two.
This is a great way to reduce spending on gifts as nobody will feel obliged or pressured to overspend.
Three co-workers have decided on a Secret Santa for their families.
One family member will draw the names of other family members from a hat. Each family sets a limit on the cost of each gift.
To be on the safe side, all children are to be excluded from this strategy.
Presents? What Presents?
Yet another co-worker of mine has the most extreme frugal idea. A devout Christian, he has decided to forgo the usual gift giving. His plan?
He and his family are visiting a close relative in another state who lives in a spacious spanking new home. That’s his way of having a vacation for a month.
His only cost?
I hope you have a very good idea of cutting out what you don’t need for Christmas.
You don’t have to be drastic in your efforts. You may like to choose 1 or 2 to start with. Gradually, over the years, you’ll get more used to not having these frills. We all start somewhere. So why not now.
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