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There are many ways to save money on family Christmas gifts. For new families, how much you can save will depend on what Christmas represents in your family as a whole. If the focus is on gift-giving there is no doubt that as your children grow up the task of making Christmas an exciting holiday will require more effort and cost.
Starting at an early age, if your children see Christmas as a time when the family is the focus, their memories of Christmas will be a healthy balance of family activities and receiving gifts.
As an adult or parent, if you think about your most memorable Christmases as a child, it is very likely your memory will relate to a family event or experience. A place you went on Christmas that remains fresh in your mind to this day. It is very unlikely you will remember the gifts you received from your toddler years through your early childhood.
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10 Ways To Save Money On Family Christmas Gifts:
1. Make a list and stick to it.
This will be the most important first step you can take to save money on family gifts over Christmas. We have all heard this before but how often do we stick to this plan.
The distractions these days are tremendous and without organizing your list early, time management and spending can easily get out of control over the holidays.
Make a list of the people for whom you feel you must buy a gift. Then consider if any of these people would prefer a gift you can purchase or a DIY gift including something you can bake? You’d be surprised how deeply grateful and touched people can be by homemade gifts, especially baked goods.
My mom always ships some homemade Christmas cookies with my son’s gifts. Don’t tell her, but it is her cookies he looks forward too and loves the most! The gifts are wonderful, but it is always the cookies he is digging through the box looking for first.
Mom’s Homemade Christmas Cookies
Once you have crafted your list, stick to it. Consider making a list for all of your holiday buying needs before you start shopping. Include in this list the items you’ll need for baking or Christmas dinner.
Will you be traveling over the holidays? Will you be traveling with a baby? Consider a list for those expenses and needs as well.
Stick firmly to your list and you won’t feel overwhelmed or too overspent to enjoy the holidays. Worry is the thief of joy as they say…and worrying about the January bills is sure to rob the joy right out of Christmas.
2. Cash only.
Even if you are not on a tight budget, avoid using credit whenever possible. One of the most common complaints after the holiday season is credit card debt.
Add to this credit card finance charges and you will find yourself paying for the holiday well into the new year.
If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it! Stick to this simple rule and you will not get hit with the financial crunch so many fall into.
3. Hit the thrift stores/Apps/Clearance sections.
Thrift stores are always a good place to look for items that are more affordable and trendy. Some of the best finds come from thrift stores.
Much like thrift stores, there are many great Apps that list the same types of items you find in a thrift store. If you are familiar with buying using apps you probably already know how easy this can make your shopping experience. With local apps, you can limit your distance to 10 miles or less away and find more than enough good bargains.
A few of the more popular apps are listed below. Some apps are selling apps (Mercari, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace) and some help to give you real-time prices for comparison, using photo images or barcodes (eBay, Amazon).
This is a great selling app for household items. I have used this app for years and it works extremely well. The process of shipping is very streamlined and the verification process for both buyers and sellers is very effective at preventing spam and scams. When dealing with the buying and selling of used physical products online, you do have to be extremely careful. There is a learning curve involved after which you will be able to pick up scams more easily. Much of the information on apps that is not legitimate becomes more and more apparent as you become familiar with the online selling platform.
OfferUp is a local selling app. It is ideal for selling items if you want to sell local and don’t want to pay for shipping. This can be particularly useful for large or heavy items (furniture, strollers).
If you have an eBay account you will quickly find that the eBay app is not just for buying and selling. You can check prices very easily using your phone camera by simply taking a picture of an item or barcode and find it on eBay for price comparison. In addition, if you have an eBay business, there’s no limit to how this app can help you make money over the holiday. This is not to suggest that you should start trying to earn money with eBay over the current Christmas holiday as there is a learning curve. However, if you start now, your business will be well-established by next Christmas.
Much like the eBay app, the Amazon app is like having an Amazon browser at your fingertips. Simply point your camera at the barcode on a particular item and if the item is available on Amazon, you will immediately see how much the item is selling for new or used. This is another great app to help you make extra money “if” you are already an Amazon seller. If not, learning to sell on Amazon to make money for next Christmas is definitely an option. Learning to use these apps requires time. With both eBay and Amazon, if you don’t learn the platform well you can lose money selling physical products.
Given the size of Facebook, you might not think of it as a place to buy used items. However, Facebook Marketplace is actually a great way to find items being sold in your area. This can be a great place to find items that are like new and being sold at bargain-basement prices. If you are looking to make extra money for the holiday and have items you no longer need? List your items on Facebook Marketplace, it is very easy to do!
4. Make it or Bake it.
When looking to save money on family Christmas gifts consider making and baking gifts. Homemade and DIY gifts are special and a unique way to personalize gifts for each member of your family
If you enjoy baking, baked gifts are always appreciated! People love food. Every year I make dozens and dozens of cookies to give as gifts.
Some of my favorite cookie recipes to give are:
- Hershey Kisses Shortbread Cookies – The Cookie Writer
- Kris Kringle Crinkles – Two Sisters
- Soft-Batch Christmas Sprinkle Cookies – The Salty Marshmallow
5. Compare prices.
Whether you shop online or brick-and-mortar retail stores, it pays to take the time to compare prices.
Fortunately, compared to years ago, E-commerce websites are now comprised of affiliate networks and encourage comparative shopping without having to leave the website.
These websites offer up-to-date pricing. If you prefer not to order items online and the stores are nearby, you can use the website information to determine which store to go to.
The ease of comparative shopping on one website is a luxury. You do not have to deal with travel time and the cost of physically going to each store.
With the click of a mouse, you can compare prices between Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy. Perhaps you will also want to search eBay as well. eBay has new items and you will find many companies that use eBay to sell their merchandise (often at a discount).
6. Make a gift budget per person.
Much like the first tip, budgeting your spending per person is also a great idea. Make a checklist format if you prefer. There is always something very gratifying about checking off completed items on a list.
This list can serve as a way of making sure you don’t forget the people you plan to buy gifts for, be it family members, friends or work colleagues.
Once you have tackled your list, you can always go back and make changes. There’s nothing worse than realizing you forgot someone during the final hour.
7. Shop early / Use layaway when available.
Shopping early and using layaway during the Christmas season can be a great approach:
- The selection is better
- Less stress than last-minute shopping
- Layaway allows you to hold items that are on sale or are hard to find.
- You get the best of both worlds. If an item goes on sale that you have on layaway or is discounted steeply right before Christmas, just make the switch.
Shop early and stay out of the stores on Christmas Eve day! It can be so tempting when you get caught up in the excitement of Christmas to go overboard on last-minute gift buying.
8. Make it a minimalist Christmas.
Stepping back from the overspending, commercialized frenzy of the holiday season is a great way to cut costs and make the season more peaceful and enjoyable.
A simple gift plan of something your children want, something they need, something to wear, plus homemade food/treat gifts is a perfect way to make the holiday less costly and far more personalized to each child.
I always give the kids their own containers of homemade cookies and homemade Christmas crack as part of their Christmas gifts.
9. Do free family activities that create memories and traditions with your children.
When I think back on my favorite childhood holiday memories, it isn’t gifts that I remember. It is the family traditions, the experiences, the smell of baking cookies, or putting up the Christmas tree and lights. Staying up late, watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate together as a family. Those are the things that really matter.
Focus on scheduling family events when your children are young. This will help your children think of Christmas as a family event and not only about gifts.
Some fun free or cheap ideas for family activities this holiday season:
If you have Amazon Prime or plan to get it for holiday shopping, take full advantage of everything they give you: Hundreds of free Christmas movies on prime video and Amazon Prime music for Christmas music.
A way to take advantage of those amazon free perks is to crank up the Christmas music and bake Christmas cookies!
Photo Credit: Maternity Comfort Solutions
Another way to take advantage of Amazon prime is with Amazon Prime Video. Have a family Christmas movie night, make snacks and hot chocolate. Stay up late! Amazon has hundreds of Christmas movies for free!
Gingerbread House With Homemade Graham Crackers
Make Gingerbread houses with graham crackers and make your own icing. You get candy for the houses at the dollar store. You can even make homemade graham crackers. One fun activity we like to do is a group project making gingerbread houses.
- Turn on the Christmas music or a Holiday movie while you are making them and you’ll be creating holiday memories and traditions your kiddos will love.
- Hop in the car and check out the neighborhood lights or see if your city or town has a free light display, many do!
- Some of the better-known lightings include Boston, Chicago, and New York. Events such as this leave lasting impressions on your children and get them into the Christmas spirit.
10. Skip the traditional expensive wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is ridiculously expensive and most often is rarely worth the expense as our children tear through their gifts on Christmas morning. This is one place where DIY ideas are a great inexpensive option.
One of the ideas I really love and in very much in right now is the “farmhouse” inspired look. An easy way to use it to your wrapping advantage is to buy a large roll of brown kraft paper on Amazon. It makes amazing wrapping paper!
You can add some plaid or other holiday ribbon and tie a dollar store ornament to the package and are good to go!
You can have your children paint or stamp on the kraft paper to make wrapping paper too. This could be another inexpensive family activity to enjoy during the holiday season.
One of our favorite family holiday activities to make homemade swags for around the house and mini-swags to tie to gifts bags and packages.
I get the Christmas tree clipping for free from a local tree lot. They just throw them in the trash and are happy to have me take them away.
One Of The Many Uses For Swags
Another suggestion that’s really inexpensive and practical is to put gifts into reusable shopping bags.
Many grocery stores offer reusable bags in many pretty colors and styles for .99 cents or less. You can add a cute ribbon and dollar store, or homemade ornament and it is perfect and sure to be appreciated.
I know we’d love to receive gifts this way. We try to be environmentally aware and we never seem to have enough reusable bags.
There are so many ways to wrap gifts for free. Use shopping bags, newspapers or buy a large amount of packing paper at a shipping store such as U-Haul.
Thinking ahead, consider buying gift wrapping supplies at the end of the holiday season when it is practically given away. Often discounted by 80-90%.
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