Simplest yet Most Effective Ways to Save Money on Holidays

Ways to Save Money on Holidays
Written by DontPayFull

It’s never a good idea to start the New Year with almost zero extra cash in your stash – but it almost always happens. When you consider all the food expenses and holiday gifts that you usually give out during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, it can really burn a hole in your pocket.

So how you can celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank? In the following sections, we will dish out tips on how you can give gift ideas that cost very little or no money at all, what other ways are available to save money during the holidays, and why it is important to save in the first place.

The Importance of Saving Money During the Holidays

First, let’s take a look at the reasons why it is important to save money during the holidays. Even if you are the friendliest or most thoughtful person on Earth, there is absolutely no reason for you to break the bank just so that you can please everyone and give them presents during the holiday season.

Sure, Christmas is the time for giving but when you have more practical things to think about – like your kid’s college tuition or your retirement plan – you would not want to spend that much on holiday gifts, either.

When the economy took a turn for the worse a few years ago, the spirit of giving did not stop because people had less to spend. In fact, they became more creative in thinking of holiday gift ideas for their loved ones without having to spend that much.

When you set a certain budget for your holiday expenses, you would not have to face the New Year deep in debt – and it will be a great year for you all the way round.

Simplest yet Most Effective Ways to Save Money on Holidays

Gift Ideas That Cost Very Little or No Money at All

The good news is that there are plenty of gift ideas that cost very little or no money at all. Take a look at some suggestions that you can borrow:

#1 Give loved ones coupons for the gift of your time

Let’s say that you are a college student and you have a big sister who has two kids. You know that during the holiday season, they go from one event to another that the couple barely has time to go out on dates.

For Christmas, you can give your big sister a coupon which is equivalent to a few hours’ worth of babysitting. Your sister and her husband can go on a holiday date while you babysit your nieces or nephews. This is definitely something that they will appreciate!

#2 Scour your desk for DIY gift items

At the end of the year, you would have accumulated unused stationery, ribbon rolls and similar items in your desk at the office or in the work desk that you use at home. Be creative and think of DIY projects that you can turn these items to.

A cleaned-up stone with a personalized message written in glitter glue is a perfect paperweight gift. Empty cases of Tic-Tacs taped together and filled with different spices can be given as a gift to someone who likes to cook.

#3 Personalized gifts from your printer

When you go online, you can find templates for personalized desk calendars, wall posters or business cards. Using the pictures of your friends or loved ones, you can download these templates and print to create gifts with a personal touch.

#4 How about something from your garden or kitchen? 

If you love cooking or if you have a home garden, you can simply create a batch of food, infused oils or other items to give as holiday gifts. For instance, you can bake brownies or cookies and divide them up to give as gifts to your relatives and friends.

Infuse olive oil with garlic or other spices, place some in small bottles, tie a festive ribbon and give them out as gifts. There are plenty of easy-to-find items in your kitchen or garden that you can give out as inexpensive yet delicious holiday gifts. 

Simplest yet Most Effective Ways to Save Money on Holidays

Additional Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

Now that you already have an idea about the gift items that cost next to nothing to create, what are the other ways that you can save money during the holidays? Take a look at the following list:

#1 If you must shop for gifts, set a budget ceiling

If you don’t like fiddling with DIY stuff or if you’re hopeless in the kitchen, then you must shop for gift items to give away during the holiday season. To make sure that you are not spending any more than you have to, set a ceiling for your budget.

The price could be your overall budget for the entire gift giving season, or you can simply decide on an amount for each individual gift. This way, when you shop, you would not be tempted to buy something that’s more expensive than your intended price ceiling and you would not overspend.

#2 Make a list of the people who you would like to give gifts to

It is very important to make a list of the people who you would like to give gifts to. If you aimlessly walk around the mall with no list or budget in mind, it is easy for you to get caught up in the moment. When you pick up a not-so-good gift that’s not well thought out, the item might simply end up gathering dust in someone’s attic.

Well thought out gifts, though cheap, are better than pricier ones which do not really suit the personality of the recipient. After making a list of the individuals who you would like to give gifts to, write down a possible gift item or two so that your shopping experience will be painless. Don’t forget to stick to your list!

#3 Don’t use your credit card when going shopping for holiday gifts

Again, saving during the holiday season is all about sticking to a budget. This is something that you won’t be able to do if you will use your credit card. You can easily overcharge that little strip of plastic and end up starting the year deep in debt. Leave the card at home and only take enough cash that will allow you to buy all the gift items on your list.

#4 Take advantage of holiday discounts, coupons, free shipping privileges, etc.

Whether you’re shopping for gifts online or in actual shops, the holiday season is when merchants give out freebies, buy-one-take-one offers, free shipping, discounts, coupons, etc. Take advantage of these so that you can get your money’s worth when going holiday shopping.

Make a comparison of the prices from different stores so that you can buy from the merchant which offers the lowest rates. Bring your smartphone and scan those bar codes. There are apps available on Android and iOS devices which gives you the prices of the items from different merchants.

If you are shopping from an actual store, you can ask the seller to match the price that’s indicated on the scanned bar code if it is tagged as higher.

It’s also a must to do your holiday shopping in advance. When you’re pressed for time, you would have to pay prime dollar for that latest toy craze that your beloved nephew or niece is pining for. No matter which gift item it is that you plan to give as present, shopping for them early will give you the chance to save money.

#5 Consider giving gift baskets

If you’re thinking of presents for a friend who’s a new mom, consider putting together a “pamper yourself” gift basket. This could contain instant facial masks, nail polish, bath salts and other beauty items. She could be so busy taking care of the baby that she doesn’t have the time to pamper herself, so your gift basket will surely put a big smile on her face.

For movie buffs, you can put together a movie night gift basket; or give a bunch of cooking utensils for that friend who’s always whipping up something in the kitchen.

#6 Invest in big-ticket items rather than two or more inexpensive, smaller gifts

If you’re parents who are looking for gift ideas for the kids, you will save money in the long run by buying two or three big-ticket items, rather than five or more smaller-priced items which the kids will not get too excited about. The same thing holds true when looking for presents for your wife, your boss, your mom or your best friend.

Simplest yet Most Effective Ways to Save Money on Holidays

#7 Plan a potluck dinner

If all else fails, you can always plan a potluck dinner. Have your guests come over and prepare their best home-cooked dishes. Mix fizzy drinks, put up festive decorations on the venue and play some holiday music. The holiday season is all about reconnecting with friends and loved ones, after all, so the price of your gifts should not really matter.

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  • I like the idea of giving personalized gifts from the printer. I was thinking about making a calendar of my child and sending it out to his grandma in another state. She would really like that as a Mother’s Day gift. She is not his mom, but I still think it is nice to his grandma in another state gifts on that day because it makes her feel special. I also like the idea of having a potluck. I actually have had people make requests of what they want me to make and that always makes me feel special.

    • I think a picture calendar is a great gift for grandma, kindred! A new, cute picture of the little tyke every month is sure to brighten any grandma’s day. Especially if she doesn’t get to see him much by living in a different state. Budget friendly, and useful. I say go for it! 🙂

  • I am a *huge* fan of homemade gifts. I just think they are more meaningful. Who needs another knickknack to dust, anyway? I can make quite a few dozen of my famous Oreo truffles for less than $20 and gift 7-10 people. I tie them up in cute little snack sack bags I buy on 90% clearance at dollar stores after Christmas.

    The pot luck is a life saver. We all used to take turns hosting holiday dinners, and I honestly spent at least $400 each time it was my turn. For one dinner. That’s insane. Now we potluck it. It’s down to a $10-20 expense for each person and it’s so much easier to prepare for and clean up after!

  • Home made is a great way to go, and I think that people often appreciate those gifts more than something purchased at the store. Muffins, jams, and chocolates are easy to make and can be dressed up with ribbon to look fancy. I like the pot luck idea, I think I might try to do that with our friends this year, otherwise parties are so expensive to hold.

  • I am planning to give many gifts from my kitchen. I have several really good recipes for very healthy goodies that people I am giving to who live in this area will enjoy. I love the uniqueness of giving food and the fact that I am not giving something that will just sit around and take up space.

    I do plan to use my credit card though, but I have a budget. I use my credit card to accumulate amazon reward points, so I am not spending more because I use it, just maximizing my savings.

    • Without a doubt, “kitchen gifts” are some of the best for the holidays, especially when they’re made from scratch. Food makes a great gift for most occasions, depending upon how long they’ll stay fresh and edible. I sometimes opt for a baked good as a gift instead of something more traditional because it takes more effort to pull off.

  • I definitely like the idea of creating a budget for each individual and sticking to that. And also of making a list of the people that you want to give gifts to, so you’re not just spending out of control. It’s good to give, but it’s not good to overdo it so much so that the whole gift-giving process becomes more of a burden in the long run.

  • If you have a lot of people to shop for and you don’t make a list, then you’re almost guaranteed to miss someone or forget about them, which never goes well, especially when they get you a gift anyways. It’s probably happened to most of us, and a list helps you avoid this issue more often than it doesn’t.

  • Budgeting is very important. I loved the idea of printing your own cards at home. You could even sit down with your kids and handmake cards – as this adds a bit of a nice personal touch.

  • I’m looking for ideas for Valentine’s gifts right now, and absolutely love the coupon idea! It sounds like a really fun and creative way to give my partner something he’ll enjoy that won’t break the bank! I also love the gift basket idea generally, but I’m scared I’d just end up stuffing too much stuff in there and going over budget anyway.

    The idea of making a list of who you need to give gifts to for the holiday is a wise one. I’ll have to do that before next Christmas- I have an aunt I always seem to be forgetting :/

  • Great holiday tips – some are very important – Christmas gifts are fun to give – but you have to remember that you will be paying the price for overspending when the January bills come in. Try not to set your family back financially.

  • Oh, my. I wish I could follow those tips! We have a very small Christmas, with me, my partner and his mother. She always buys us so many things! A lot of crappy cheap gifts, really, but also more expensive stuff. Then we have to “match” it, that she has stuff to unwrap too… It’s just a mess. She’s not happy with her gifts, we are not happy with ours, but it’s “tradition” so that’s just how we do it. I wish we could have a big party where everyone just gives a small thing or coupons to others, with no fuss. *sigh* Maybe eventually. Great advices though.

  • I saved some money holiday shopping last year by buying some items on Boxing Day. All online though. It worked out great for when the other holidays came. I bought the items in such a way they could be used on birthdays and the next Christmas which also was nice.

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