12 Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas

12 Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas
Written by Oana Schneider

The holiday season might be one of the most wonderful times of the year, but it can also take its toll on anybody’s wallet. If you’re single and you have three siblings with a flurry of nieces and nephews, you are almost obligated to buy presents for each kid.

Your mom, your significant other, your closest colleagues at work, grandparents, and other relatives – the list goes on and on. Try having lots of ideas for an inexpensive Christmas this year and we promise you won’t miss out on anything!

This is not to mention the other holiday-related expenses for traveling; hosting Christmas dinners and parties; buying festive clothes; contributing to potluck dinners and making purchases during the store sales when you simply cannot resist the low prices of goods. Put together, all these makeup for a very expensive end of the year.

So how are you supposed to manage your finances? You would not want to go in debt just to complete your holiday gift-giving list, so it is best to have a plan. Read on to find out how you can manage your money right before Christmas, and how you can cut back on your holiday-related expenses.

Mind Your Money Right before Christmas

Financial advisers suggest that you distribute your holiday shopping throughout the year so you won’t feel as much pressure come Thanksgiving – but who actually has the time, the patience or the foresight to do that? If this is something that you know you can’t do, at least set aside the funds that you need and do all your shopping before the end of the year.

You don’t want to start the New Year in debt, or have the next holiday approach while you’re still paying for last year’s Christmas purchases. It is best to start the year with a clean slate financially and the best way to do just that is to manage your holiday expenses.

It’s good practice to start saving for your holiday shopping on the second half of the year. From the months of July to November, you can set aside a certain amount for your holiday expenses. Make sure not to dip into these funds, and constantly check how much you are actually saving.

12 Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas

If you are throwing a New Year’s Eve party, read: 10 Rules for an Affordable New Year’s Eve Party!

If it’s already October or November and the amount seems to be insubstantial, you can give your funds a boost by taking on a part-time job, accepting a freelancing project or selling all your unused stuff online.

From Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas, that is when you can start using up the cash back rewards, supermarket points of frequent flyer miles that you earned from your credit card. These will help ease the costs of your holiday shopping. You can also use online saving tools where you are allowed to put money aside at a savings account.

These are specifically designed for Christmas shopping, and there are even bonus points, rewards and other perks that you will get by signing up and saving your money on-site.

Best Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas

Next, what are the specific ways that you can cut your Christmas expenses at one-third, half or even a bigger percentage? Take a look at the following list:

1. Save on your holiday decorations.

Do you buy a new Christmas tree and an entire set of ornaments every single year? Instead of doing this, why not simply recycle the holiday decor that you used last year?

By purchasing good quality artificial tree and ornaments which do not disintegrate quickly, you can use them over and over again. To change the look of the tree, simply use different color combinations like silver-and-red, gold-and-purple, or all-white.

You can also incorporate natural elements onto your Christmas decor, like a wreath for the door made from pine cones or other interesting items that you collected from a recent hike.

2. Save money on your holiday feast.

If you have membership cards on supermarkets, collect those points that you accumulated throughout the year and use them on your holiday shopping. If you’re having family over and you know that you cannot handle the expenses alone, assign the entrée, dessert, veggies, meat dishes and drinks to different families.

For Thanksgiving, there’s no difference between supermarket turkey and a more expensive one that’s bought from a specialty shop – so choose cheaper meat cuts and cook them well.

3. Check your Christmas gift-giving list.

To keep the gift-giving costs down, check your ideas for an inexpensive Christmas twice.

If you have a big family, you might want to save the individual gifts for kids – and have the adults go for a Secret Santa event. This makes the gift-giving more exciting because you know that it is something that suits the personality of the recipient.

For other people who you are not sure you should give presents to, simply send holiday e-cards or physical post cards.

12 Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas

Plan your Christmas presents carefully! Bring joy, but don’t break the bank!

4. Wrap personalized gifts

Encourage your kids to give personalized gifts for their grandparents, aunts and uncles. Frame a drawing of the little one’s hand or footprints and this is something that will proudly hang on the wall of the grandmother’s house.

If you love knitting, drawing, baking or sewing, you can simply buy the raw material and give do-it-yourself presents instead of purchasing them from the store.

5. Visit thrift stores for unique gift ideas.

For your sister who’s into interior decorating, there are a lot of unique finds that you can get from a thrift store. The same thing holds true for an eccentric aunt, a music-loving uncle or a dear family friend. The bonus is that you can haggle for the prices of goods from these stores, and they’re like no other!

Related: The Best Gifts You Can Buy at the Thrift Store

6. Make sure you are earning cash back points on your credit card.

If you know how to use your credit card, you can actually maximize its rewards instead of falling into the dreaded debt trap. When using it for your holiday shopping, make sure that you are earning cash back points, frequent flyer miles, rewards points or other perks that you would not otherwise get when paying for purchases in cash. You can also use it to protect your interests as a consumer.

If you will charge a certain amount on your card, you can get a refund from the manufacturer in case a product turns out to be defective or unsatisfactory.

12 Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas

Are you thinking about using your credit card to shop for presents? Here’s How to Save Money on Your Credit Card This Christmas!

7. Do a price comparison before buying anything.

To boost their sales during the holiday season, most stores will tag an item as being on sale – even if it’s just a few cents or dollars off. To make sure that you are really getting a good bargain, do an online price comparison.

This way, you can decide if it’s worth buying during the Christmas rush or the savings are too low so you can just put off the purchase during the calmer months of the year, retail-wise. Get these ideas for an inexpensive Christmas right now!

8. Go online and look for holiday discounts.

Amazon, BestBuy, and other retail websites have offers for free shipping during the holiday season. To get discounts on other items, you can also look for voucher codes and coupons. Check out sites like Groupon, Living Social, BuyWithMe, or the official website of your favorite store for the holiday offers that they have.

9. Check out the last-minute deals online.

To cope with the overflow of shoppers, most websites will offer last-minute deals from sites like BlueNile, Wine or RedEnvelope. Just make sure to do your shopping in advance so that you can earn discounts and have the presents arrive at the recipient’s doorstep, just in time for the holiday season.

12 Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas

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

10. Give the gift of experience instead of the typical holiday presents.

A person who works at a movie theater can give out free movie passes as Christmas gifts. Those who work at theme parks can give out tickets. Instead of giving material things as presents, give the gift of experience and it will surely be appreciated by the recipient. Your ideas for an inexpensive Christmas must feature an exchange of gifts, no matter what!

11. Plan your route accordingly to save money on gas.

If you need to travel several miles to see your mom over the holidays, look for friends who you can carpool with. Check out sites like to know where you can find the lowest rates for fuel. If you need to fly, use the frequent flyer miles on your credit card to get discounted rates for airline tickets. Otherwise, book your flights six to seven weeks in advance or way earlier if you need air travel during the holiday season.

12. Think of low-cost ways to celebrate the holiday season.

Finally, the best ideas for an inexpensive Christmas gift that you can give to your gifts is your time, especially if you are a busy parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle. Have a Christmas camp-out night where you will all sleep huddled underneath the tree. Volunteer to walk homeless pets during the holiday season, read Christmas books at the local library or watch holiday movies, have a girls-only party or conduct a holiday arts and crafts session.

These make the perfect gift for your little ones, and they do not cost as much as the latest gadget or toy craze.

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12 Ideas for an Inexpensive Christmas

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • This was a very well written post of ideas for us all to take into consideration. Especially the one on saving money throughout the year. I try to do that but sometimes it is to hard. And I use the same ornaments every year and same tree, I just mix the ornaments up each year. Also Boxing day at Wal Mart is showing Christmas decor going for 50% off I suppose that is good for anyone interested.

  • Having your kids make gifts for other family members is a genius idea, because it means that they are able to make something relatively inexpensive but that will mean a lot to the person they are giving it to, so the fact that it didn’t cost much money will hardly register at all. It is this type of activity that is really going to save you a lot of money, so that is what you should try to do if you can.

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