- CREATE A BUDGET: Figure out a reasonable budget that you can afford without using credit cards. You don’t want to be paying for Christmas months after the holiday it is over. Set the money aside in a savings account or in an envelope specifically marked only for Christmas. Use only what you have set aside. Stop when your money runs out.
- DECIDE WHO YOU WILL GIVE GIFTS TO: Once you know how much money you have to spend, determine who you wish to buy and make gifts for. Consider a family gift instead of individual gifts. Draw names out of a hat instead of giving a gift to everyone at work. If you can’t figure out what to do for someone who has everything, donate money to charity in their name.
- PLAN CAREFULLY: Estimate costs for each person and gift and stay within your budget. If the estimates are more than you have to spend, cut back by making necessary changes so it will be within your budget. For example, instead of sending expensive gift baskets, buy baskets on sale and make your own baked goodies. Copy ideas from companies who sell baked good for Christmas or check out a book from the library about different gifts you can make from the kitchen. Remember, the true meaning of Christmas is about giving from the heart and not just from the pocketbook.
- SEND GIFT CARDS: There is a greater chance the recipient will like what you give if you send a gift card. They can easily be mailed in a Christmas card. Save yourself hours of shopping, money for gift wrap, long lines at the post office and extra mailing costs.
Buy ingredients at Thanksgiving time when flour, butter, sugar and other baking items are priced very low. Do Christmas cooking ahead of time and freeze items. Consider doubling your dinner recipes and freeze meals so they will be available later in December when things get busy. Instead of spending the money to go out for fast food on a busy day, eat a healthier meal from the freezer.
If you are having a Christmas party, consider doing a potluck. Besides saving money and time in the kitchen, you can try a variety of different foods that people bring.
Keep all receipts in a folder. You will be able to find them easily this way if you need to exchange or return anything.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. With careful planning, you can enjoy it regardless of the amount of money you have to spend.