I quit my job right before the holidays. There went our Christmas budget… (Or so I thought!)
I had hoped to work until the end of the year to help pay for Christmas. However, my workplace had become toxic, so as a family we decided it was best for me to leave.
It was absolutely the right decision for us, but the timing meant that we would have to tighten our belts and really watch our spending during Christmas.
I worried that we wouldn’t be able to provide as nice a holiday for our family as usual. To my surprise, we had an AMAZING Christmas! I wanted to share some of the things we did to have an awesome Christmas on a budget — it IS possible!
How to Have an Awesome Christmas on a Budget:
Plan the menu in advance and stock up!
Grocery stores will often have sales on traditional holiday food items in the weeks leading up to the actual day. Take advantage of these major markdowns and stock up!
As you get closer to Thanksgiving, and you’ll find coupons, deals, and rebates on many turkey-day staples: stuffing mix, canned pumpkin, etc. We’ve been planning our menu and grabbing things to keep in our pantry or freeze.
Meal planning has helped save us a ton of money in our daily lives, and it is a lifesaver for holiday feasts too (Need a boost with your meal planning? Check out my Ultimate Meal Planner Bundle and make meal planning easy!)
Cards for everyone!
Call me old-fashioned, but Christmas cards are one of my favorite things about the season! I love to receive and display them in our living room, but I love to create and send them just as much.
Every year I find a favorite family photo and design a personalized photo card OR I will print the photo itself to tuck into a regular Christmas card. I send one or hand deliver to all of our family and friends.
Personalized cards are the perfect way to acknowledge people that you might not have the budget to buy a gift for, like work acquaintances. Even in today’s technology-based world, people still love getting a hand-written note, perhaps even more so!
We have a large extended family, so buying expensive gifts for every single person just isn’t an option. However, we DO want everyone to know how much they mean to us!
Homemade gifts can be just as meaningful (if not more so) because they have that personal touch. In the past we’ve made ornaments, picture frames, and paper-mâché snowmen painted with our favorite football team’s colors. This also lets the kids get involved! (Plus, a homemade gift from a kid automatically gets a little leeway to not be perfect, if you’re a “novice” crafter like me!)
Food = Love
It doesn’t matter how much food there is laying around, I’m always excited to get a special holiday treat as a gift. Every year, my Granny makes a big batch of her chocolate chip cookies for us for Christmas. Though we’ve eaten a lot of other desserts at family gatherings, we love getting her special cookies to take home and enjoy later.
My husband Matt is also known for his holiday treat gifts: from cookies, to pies, to his famous Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars. You can often find cute (and cheap) Christmas tins or plastic tubs at the dollar store in which to deliver your treats or you can decorate plain tins with the kids for that extra-special touch.
Make the Holidays about TRADITION and not THINGS
Our girls are still young, so they’re not yet asking for designer clothes and expensive gadgets. (That definitely helps for now!) But they still see commercials and advertisements that fill their minds with the want for toys, toys, toys! To deflect from making Christmas being just about stuff, we have created traditions that they will remember and look forward to each year.
Here are some of the activities we did last year and will be doing again this year: a driving tour of the lights throughout our city, an ornament making party at Grammy’s house, sugar cookie baking and decorating, picking out our Christmas tree as a family and visiting with Santa, writing notes to our Elf on the Shelf “Pickolina” (named by Lilu…Pickolina would leave notes every morning in return).
Every day leading up to Christmas was full of fun and togetherness. Opening presents on Christmas morning was of course an exciting event for the girls, but I really do think they enjoyed the anticipation and the festivities of the rest of the month just as much!
Whether or not you’re on a tight budget this Christmas, these ideas can still be helpful for creating a Christmas season that’s full of special memories. Though the fact that they’re easier on the bank account is a nice bonus!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to save $500 (or more!) before Christmas
Check out my Christmas Pinterest Board for some of the best ideas and inspiration I’ve found from around the web! Recipes, gift ideas, crafts, ornaments, decor, and more!
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maryanne @ mama smiles says
Some of our tightest budget Christmases have been my favorite!
Stacey aka the Soccer Mom says
I agree MaryAnne! I think because we appreciate them even more when you have to work so hard to make them special.