The festive season is upon us! Unfortunately, it’s also that time of year when many of us find ourselves buried in credit card debt. While we all want to capture the perfect Instagram-worthy moments with family and friends, overspending can quickly dampen our holiday spirit.
The good news is that you can enjoy the magic of the season without maxing out your credit card. In fact, some of the most cherished gifts don’t cost a dime. Here are some great ways to save money during the holidays while making it truly memorable and meaningful.
The best part? Most of these tips apply whether you acknowledge the Christmas season, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah or the African American celebration of Kwanzaa.
1. Planning Ahead
Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday may be too late to begin thinking about the holiday season. After all, the fourth Thursday of November is kind of close to Dec 25. Create a gift-giving plan well ahead of important holiday dates to take advantage of early discounts and avoid last-minute expenses.
2. DIY Decorations
Create your own Instagram-worthy decorations for this festive season. Homemade crafts add a personal touch, while allowing you to save money on something you display only once a year.
3. Budget for Gifts
Set a budget for gifts and stick to it. Like decorations, consider handmade gifts or thoughtful gestures that don’t require crazy holiday spending.
4. Online Deals
Monitor online retail sales, especially surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. These are some of the best times to snag discounted gifts for family and friends. Another great day for savings can be Christmas Eve if you’re looking for last-minute gifts.
5. New Traditions
Start fun traditions like watching holiday movies, viewing holiday lights, playing games, or organizing a potluck to maximize the festive season while enjoying the holidays on a budget.
6. Give Experiences
Give the gift of experiences rather than physical items. Tickets to events or a promise to spend quality time together are meaningful and budget-friendly for family and friends.
7. Homemade Treats
Bake and share homemade cookies or treats with family and friends—as well as neighbors, co-workers, clients, fellow parents, you name it! These goodies are a thoughtful and cost-effective way to save money while spreading holiday cheer. You can even create a tradition out of making them through an annual cookie bake.
8. Volunteer Together
Give back to your community by volunteering. The holiday season is a time for giving, and your time can be invaluable. Remember, you will certainly not be the only one doing the holidays on a budget in the United States. And some people’s budgets are significantly (significantly) smaller than yours. Donating old or unused items, volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen, or simply giving what you can when you can means the world to others.
9. Secret Santa
Instead of buying gifts for everyone, let Santa Claus provide the gifts. Have a Secret Santa gift exchange to save money while still sharing the joy of giving.
10. Christmas Caroling
Organize a caroling group and spread cheer in your neighborhood or at local nursing homes. It’s a heartwarming way to celebrate the holiday season.
11. Learning About Traditions
Take the time to learn about different holiday traditions, such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, to appreciate the diversity of this time of year in the United States.
12. Thrift Store Finds
Thrifting is not only a great way to save money, but it’s become trendy! Shop at thrift or consignment stores for unique and affordable holiday decor, clothes, and gifts. You may discover hidden treasures or even save on reusable Christmas trees. You never know what you may find!
13. Santa Claus Photos
Instead of schlepping out to the mall for professional Santa Claus photos, take your own with a festive backdrop at home. It’s a fun and budget-friendly activity.
14. DIY Wrapping
Create your own wrapping paper and gift tags using recycled materials or plain brown paper. It adds a personal touch, saves money, and allows you and your kids to show off your creative side.
15. Extended Celebrations
The most wonderful time of year doesn’t have to end on Dec 25. Extend the festive season by celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with family and friends, creating more opportunities for quality time together.
Remember, the key to a budget-friendly holiday season is starting with a realistic budget and embracing the idea that “stuff” isn’t always the most cherished gift. Sometimes, the gift of time spent together with family and friends can be the most meaningful present of all.
The APM Family wishes you and yours a joyous and budget-friendly holiday season!