Christmas is now less than 5 weeks away. Wow! I’ve not bought the first gift. I am a horrible procrastinator and my family is horrible at letting me know what they want for gifts each year. The combination of these two things is chaos nearly every Christmas season.
It’s also been an especially expensive year. I probably should stop saying “especially” because I honestly feel like I write that every year. I guess that’s the downfall of having an older car and condo. The good news is that my kids are grown and although I still buy gifts, I don’t go as overboard as I used to. That takes a bit of the pressure off.
Frugal Ideas for Paying for Christmas
I save up my various rewards points through the year. I have a credit card that pays some cash back every month, I have shop kick points that can be turned into gift cards that I use to buy Christmas gifts, and a couple of other smaller survey sites I can cash in. My insurance company usually pays out a little holiday dividend every December that is also earmarked for Christmas gifts.
I don’t know about where you live but in my neck of the woods, nearly every retail store and restaurant has help wanted signs. Delivery services are almost always hiring such as Door Dash, Grub Hub, etc. Parents often need responsible babysitters so they can get their Christmas shopping done. Take a look around your community and see what opportunities are available. My son works for UPS now so he’s fortunate that there is plenty of overtime available for those who want it, your job may be the same.
Probably my most important suggestion: make a list of what you need to buy so you can budget accordingly. And get your list ready as early as possible…I know I mentioned earlier that it’s not always easy to accomplish this but try! Having a list early lets you watch for the items that you need to go on sale. If funds are tight then consider giving a price limit to those you’re buying for. This is easier for older kids and relatives I know.
Younger kids could care less where you get their gifts. Check out Facebook marketplace, your local Goodwill store, a resale shop, or even friends with kids a little older than yours. I was able to unload a bunch of Power Rangers and light sabers this way to a co-worked whose kids were 3 or 4 years younger than mine. Space made for me and a bargain for the co-worker.
Older kids/young adults might need more practical items like household supplies if they have their own place. Small appliances and household items are popular Black Friday items and can be scored at some great prices. You might even have some extra items you no longer need that can be re-gifted to them. Another great idea is subscriptions to their favorite streaming services or payment towards one of their bills for a month.
I love to give the perfect gifts but if money is tight, please, please, please, don’t go further into debt trying to give gifts to everyone you know. Older relatives and friends will understand, and honestly, kids don’t need a thousand gifts under the tree. Especially if it means you’re going to miss out on time with them in the new year when you’re working a thousand hours to pay off the Christmas bills.
If you’re handy in the kitchen and you really want to give gifts to neighbors and such then perhaps bake some goodies. Cookies and brownies are easy to gift.
Unless you live under a rock, then you should be aware by now that postage and shipping is going to take longer this year so plan accordingly. You don’t want to get stuck paying double the shipping cost to get it here on time.
One of my favorite things about the holiday season is that there are a lot of ways to have frugal fun. Most communities have Christmas Light Up festivities that are free. You can drive around your town/city to look at the various Christmas light displays.
Holiday specials are plentiful on all the channels and streaming services. If you’re lucky enough to have any or all of the three Hallmark channels you could watch Holiday specials 24/7 (yeah…that’s totally me!). You can watch the classics like It’s a Wonderful Life or the Charlie Brown specials. Maybe more modern “classics” like A Christmas Story, National Lampoons Christmas, the Holiday, or Elf are your style. Pop some popcorn, pour some hot chocolate or wine, and throw on some Christmas PJ’s. Have a movie marathon and stay comfy in your warm house.
Go ice skating…still on my bucket list.
Attend a church or school Christmas choir event or play. Read Christmas stories with your kids.
A Frugal Christmas Takeaway…
Don’t go into debt in an effort to show your love. Kids don’t need a thousand gifts. Honestly, even if you buy them a thousand gifts, they’re probably only going to really care about 2 or 3 favorites. Older kids, especially those now paying their own bills, will appreciate the fact that you’re being fiscally responsible. Spend extra time with your family, that’s what they will ultimately remember.
Any other frugal suggestions?
Early on in our married life, we decided to set up a dedicated Christmas account. We had a certain amount of money deducted from our paychecks each month. The mindset was, if we didn’t have it in the account, we didn’t spend it. So we always had the money to pay towards the Christmas credit cards bills when they came out in January. We have done this faithfully for 25 years. 😉👍