How to celebrate Christmas on little to no budget
Christmas is one of those holidays that can bring about crazy awesome levels of positivity or just the opposite really. All of the traveling, baking, buying and wrapping can be really fun, but it can also bring on a
bit lot of stress if you don’t have the money for it. It is possible to have a great Christmas on a budget, though! Let me show you a few key tips so that you can have one too.
When I was growing up, we were not very well off so our Christmas gifts were always very few. To tell the truth, even if we had gotten a lot of gifts, we would have gotten rid of them come our next military move so it was almost a waste of money for my parents anyway. Funny thing is, I never remember feeling like we didn’t have enough. My parents did a good job of bringing in the Christmas cheer enough that we didn’t notice the few gifts. I believe even now that it is totally possible to have a great Christmas on a budget, or even on no budget.
Christmas on a budget
I would have to say that the most important part of having Christmas on a budget is to actually CREATE a budget first! (I know, novel concept, right). This is something that starts on the first day of the year. In order to plan to have a great christmas while staying on budget, you need to stock away money each month to pay for your expenses come December.
Do some simple math to figure out approximately what you will need for the holidays. For example, you want to spend $75 on each family member and you have 5 total, that would mean that you need to have saved $375 by the end of the year. Break it down even further to find out how much you need to save every month to get to that goal. If you start saving right after Christmas, you have 12 months to save (375/12= 33) so you need to save $33 every month to get there. Not too bad, right?
Tips for how to do Christmas cheap
There is this really disconcerting trend happening with Christmas. Matter of fact, I am not sure when it originated, but layaways and credit cards make it too easy to go in debt over Christmas. Here is my #1 tip for how to do Christmas cheap and without going into debt, if you don’t have the money to buy the items, don’t buy them. Christmas is definitely not worth going into debt over!
Buy items when they are on sale
Since you are saving your money all year round for Christmas (refer to last step…Christmas on a budget) you have the ability to buy gift items all year when you see them on a really good sale. Seriously, this can be clothes that are going out of season, sales on select items via coupons or online, or even fun stocking stuffers found at the dollar store or in the $1 area of Target. This has been such a game changer for me over the years!
Try a minimalist Christmas
I am sure that you have seen the suggestions to buy just 4 gifts for the kids for Christmas: something to wear, something to read, something to play with and something to learn (or some variation of that). Honestly, I love this, but it can still be a bit much if you are on a tight budget. I think it is a really great idea to spend about the same amount on each child and to get them items from the same category so as to make them all feel like they are treated the same.
For the past couple of years, we have only gotten Little Mister 1 toy and a book and just let his grandparents take care of the rest! It is a great perk of having grandparents. Even if you don’t have grandparents that are helping, try to just buy one “nicer” item and then the other items will all be lower cost. Talking to your kids throughout the year about what their expectations should be will absolutely help this too.
Having a Christmas with no money
Being broke is no fun, I totally get it! We currently actually make nearly low income status so we don’t have a lot of extra for just anything. If you are in the same spot, then you need to just be really intentional about how you are planning your Christmas and how to save your money.
Think about it this way, you have about 50 weeks to save up for Christmas starting from January 1. If you take even $10 each week, then you will have $500 by the next Christmas. Use this to buy all things related to Christmas including food, travel, gifts, wrapping paper, etc. Look for good condition items from ebay, garage sales, and thrift stores to make your budget work!
If you feel like you can’t even swing that much, have no fear, really. Just do what you can and give yourself grace for not doing more. Ask family members for help and let your kids know that you wanted to do something, but cannot make it happen this year. You may be surprised by how well they take it, especially if this is something that you have been talking to them about throughout the year. Check out this post over at Surviving A Teacher Salary for more tips!
Make Christmas special…without money
My favorite part of Christmas is by far the decorations and I know that I am not alone in this. If you have decorations, then make your home merry and bright. If you don’t have decorations, thrift stores are just overflowing with decorations! Crank up the Christmas music and have your kids be a big part of decorating the house to make it even more fun.
Doing free activities and traditions can be a great way to take your mind off of the fact that there are few presents under the tree. Going to Christmas lights events at downtown areas or malls can all be a really fun way of having a Christmas with no money. If baking cookies or gingerbread is part of your family tradition, then do that! I assure you that your children will remember the fun time that you have as a family more than 99% of their toys they will receive.
If you are looking for more fun ways to make Christmas memorable for your children, then this other post was written just for you! I am heavy on a more minimalist path the past couple of years and Christmas gifts is really something that we as parents sometimes have a hard time letting go of. We just need a better way to make Christmas special on a budget. I hope that you find a way to do just that this year! It will be so worth it to not go into debt over gifts that too soon end up broken or trashed.
What do you struggle with the most during the Christmas season? Is your budget a big problem that you need help with?