Money Saving Tips

How to Celebrate Christmas on a $200 Budget

How to Celebrate Christmas on a $200 Budget
Written by Oana Schneider

Just because you are short on budget does not mean that you can’t celebrate Christmas just as happily. It may not be a lavish celebration, but what’s the spirit of the season, anyway? It’s all about giving and spending quality time with family. Even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to spare, you can celebrate Christmas and truly experience the meaning of the holiday season.

Even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to spare, you can celebrate Christmas and truly experience the meaning of the holiday season.

Ways to Experience the True Meaning of the Season

With only a few days left to go before Christmas, you might not have enough budget to shower your loved ones or yourself with lavish gifts. But this does not mean that you can’t experience the true meaning of the season, or at least be in the Christmas spirit. Here are no-cost ways to bask in the classic holiday atmosphere.

  • Play holiday tunes.
    What better way is there to jump start the Christmas season than by playing your favorite holiday tunes? Whether it’s the classic version of the Christmas song, or Ariana Grande’s all-original “Christmas & Chill” album, having these tunes blaring out the speakers will definitely get you in the holiday mood – even more so if you’re sipping hot cocoa or some eggnog in a living room filled with Christmas decors.
How to Celebrate Christmas on a $200 Budget

Even Santa loves a good Christmas song! Use YouTube or a Christmas radio to stream free music!

  • Fill the air with the scent of Christmas.
    There are many ways for you to literally fill the air with the scent of Christmas. Put some water on a saucepan and place apple slices or orange peels, as well as a few cinnamon sticks. As the mixture heats up then boils, your home will be filled with nostalgic scents that will make you truly feel the holiday spirit. Boiling pine branches, or filling garlands or pine cones with your favorite Christmas scent will also do the trick.
  • Check out community billboards or go online to research which food banks, homeless shelters, animal shelters or ministries need volunteers for the upcoming holiday season. Even if you don’t have extra money to share, donating your time and energy to a worthy cause will make you feel all warm and gooey on the inside.
  • Do something to spread the holiday cheer.
    Cook up some baked goodies and during Christmas morning, give them to the locals in your area who are working instead of spending time with their families at home. Put in a handwritten Merry Christmas! note and put a smile to  many faces.
  • Go to church service.
    Whichever church you belong to, they should be holding a Christmas service. Put on your holiday best and bring the family with you. This is the perfect time to reflect on the real meaning of the season.

Celebrate Christmas on a $200 Budget

Next, how can you celebrate Christmas Eve and the day itself if you only have $200 to spare? Here are a few ideas:


Every December 26, you might want to make it a habit to buy wrapping paper and holiday décor. These products will be sold at half the price or even up to 75% off. They might seem like you purchased them too late this year, but by Christmas of 2016, you’ll be glad that you did buy them a year early.

What about the Christmas decorations for this year? Simply recycle the Christmas tree, wreath, balls, ornaments, and other décor that you used last year. To change up the theme, you can have a red-and-silver or blue-and-white Christmas tree.

Visit a crafts store with a few dollars on hand, and find ways to bring new life to the décor that you already have. For the lights, make sure that all the bulbs are still good and see to it that it won’t be a safety hazard.


If you’re still struggling to complete your holiday gifts list, check out the local consignment stores in your area. Toys for kids which are barely used, as well as other items are available here for a very cheap price. Dollar stores and thrift stores are also a goldmine when it comes to unique holiday presents.

What aboutrecycling gifts ? This is actually totally acceptable – as long as you do it wisely. Let’s say that you received a coffee mug from a co-worker. You can re-gift it to a distant relative.

For a personalized touch, you can write the name of the recipient on the surface of the mug using some glitter glue pen, which you can buy cheaply from a crafts store.

Personalization is the key if you would like to give a gift that’s well thought out, yet you won’t need to spend a lot of money making or buying. When re-gifting, you should also make sure that you know who gave the item to you.

Never re-gift the item to someone who’s related or knows the person who gave you the gift. It should be untouched, not something that you already used after opening the box. You should also take into consideration the personality of the recipient – make sure that it’s something they will love and can use.

If you have time, you can alsode-clutter your house or the attic and look for never-used clothes, kitchen gadgets, and other items that you can re-gift or even use yourself.

Again, the end of the year is the perfect time to get rid of the old stuff that you have while ushering in the New Year. The bonus is that you’ll get to save money on Christmas gifts.

How to Celebrate Christmas on a $200 Budget

Looking for last-minute Christmas presents? You’ve come to the right place. Check out our list and decide which present fits your budget!

Christmas Dinner

If you’re playing host to a family Christmas dinner party, go for a potluck arrangement where everyone can bring their own specialty dish. Just make sure to ask in advance what each person or family will prepare, so that you can fill in the gaps. For example, if someone is bringing pasta and another one a meat dish, you can prepare pies and brownies for dessert, as well as veggies.

When preparing dinner for your family, do an inventory of the items you have in your pantry first. Use up everything so that you can start the New Year right. Make chilli if you have cans and cans of baked beans. Make a sinful dessert out of the fruits that you dried from the previous pumpkin or apple picking season.

Those bags of tortilla chips can be turned into nachos. Think of interesting ways to put a meal together, and use up all that you have in the kitchen so you won’t have to spend too much money on buying additional groceries and other ingredients for Christmas dinner.

Additional Tips for Celebrating Christmas on a Budget

If you only have $200 or even less than that to spare, the key to budgeting is setting your priorities straight. If you cannot bear the thought of living in a house that’s barely decorated for the holidays, allow a bigger percentage of your budget to Christmas décor. If there’s a person to whom you’d like to give a quite fancy gift, add some extra amount to your gift giving budget.

If you’re hosting a huge family dinner, plan the meal in such a way that you won’t have to buy a lot of supplement ingredients. Buy cheaper cuts of meat and slow cook them. Not only will you save money, but the smell of those herbs and spices will make stomachs growl prior to your Christmas dinner.

How to Celebrate Christmas on a $200 Budget

Prepare great appetizers if cooking is not your strongest suit. And remember: if the food is good, no one will mind a poorly decorated house.

Now’s also the time to cash in those rewards or points that you accumulated from using your credit card or loyalty cards. If you’re entitled to free items, go ahead and grab them prior to the official Christmas weekend.

Manufacturing companies give away free samples during the holiday season, and maybe even your local grocery stores have holiday presents for you when you reach a certain amount for a minimum purchase.

The budget does not necessarily have to be $200. You can set it for $300, $400, even up to $1,000 if you like. The point of the exercise is for you to stick to a budget and not overspend during the holiday season.

Again, it pays to know what your priorities are. If you don’t want to disappoint your kids, put 50% of your budget on gifts and the rest on holiday décor and Christmas dinner. Make a list of the things you’re going to buy so that you can stick to a pre-set amount.

If you’re hosting the family Christmas dinner, you can spend half of your budget on food and the rest on gifts and décor. Resist the temptation to use your credit card on your holiday purchases – whether it’s on gifts, décor, or food. You don’t want to spend a better part of the year paying for your debts because you overindulged during the holidays.

Anyway, what it really all boils down to is the spirit of the season. No matter how meagre or lavish your budget is for the holiday season, what’s important is to spend it surrounded by the most important people in your life.

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How to Celebrate Christmas on a $200 Budget

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About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois and was part of our team as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget and has a degree in Communications.


  • In previous years I would sometimes choose boxing day sales to buy Christmas items or decorations at a larger discount price. Its a good way to find cheap tree decorations or things for entertaining.

  • I think that playing holiday tunes is indeed a great way for people to be able to get into the spirit of the season. In addition, you can have a lot of fun without spending much money at all, because the holidays really are all to do with who you spend them with rather than the amount of money that you choose to spend. This is what you need to focus on the most, as it is always a very important message.

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