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39 Frugal Tips for Saving Money at Christmas

Living a Better Life® (featured column)
Submitted by Michelle Jones

There are a gazillion ways to save money which is just one of the reasons why I love my job so much. The information we share with you each year here at Better Budgeting is abundant. And the holidays are certainly one of those times when we need to implement as many money-saving tips as we can, so that we can spend less and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.

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I’ve listed 39 simple ways to save money during the Christmas holidays below, you may have tried some of them already but hopefully there will be a few more ideas you can add to your frugal holiday traditions.

Christmas Cards:

1. If it's not in your budget to send Christmas cards this year it's okay, your friends and family will understand. If you do want to send them but need to scale down consider sending cards to the people you would like to get in touch with the most.

2. Send postcards or letters, instead of Christmas cards.

3. You can even cut your old Christmas cards from last year in half, and send the pretty side as a postcard. I did this many years and it works great, plus you’re being ‘earth friendly’ by keeping new cards out of the garbage dumps.

4. If you send postcards, whether purchased or homemade, remember they require less postage than a regular card.

5. Christmas cards always go on sale in December and the longer you wait the better.

6. If you purchase inexpensive cards at a discount store be sure to look at them carefully. Some actually look cheap, while others are much prettier. If you do decide to buy Christmas cards they might as well look nice.

7. For friends and family that live out of state, or out of the country, make a phone call instead of sending a card in the mail. Your loved ones would probably enjoy talking with you by phone much more.

Wrapping Paper:

8. Use pretty magazine pages to wrap small gifts.

9. The comic section of your newspaper also makes nice wrapping paper. I once saved them up for a few months before Christmas and had enough to make a gift out of a relative’s favorite comic strip. They loved it.

10. Use your children’s artwork, or create your own on plain paper. The large reams of packing paper are great for this.

11. Save used wrapping paper all through the year, just roll them back onto the paper tube and place a small piece of scotch tape on the edge to hold in place. These really work great for small gifts where the previously folded lines won’t even show. If the paper is the wrong theme, you could just turn it over and decorate the plain side yourself.

12. No need to buy expensive ribbons and bows to decorate your packages, if you hunt around you can find cheaper ones that will be just as pretty.

13. Make your own gift tags by cutting a small piece of matching wrapping paper and folding it in half. Our family has been doing this for decades. Write the “To and From” on the inside of the paper and tape it to the wrapped present. This is also great for scraps of paper that are too small to wrap a gift, but too large to toss away.

14. Cut up old Christmas cards also make wonderful gift tags. While you're at it, make extra for next year.

15. With a few basic sewing skills you can use scrap material to wrap gifts.

16. Use inexpensive gift wrap tissue paper that you’ve saved from other gifts throughout the year. Then decorate the wrapped gift with snowmen, Christmas trees, or even just the words “Merry Christmas!” You could even add some glitter if you have some on hand. Stickers are nice too.


17. Don't decorate. It's always an option. Or, decorate with nature (see more below).

18. Don’t decorate with expensive things.

19. The stores have incredible sales every year for decorations, purchase items close to the holiday, or better yet, after the holiday. You could fill your house with beautiful holiday decorations every year (if you wanted to), for a small fraction of what they originally cost.

20. Save your children's holiday crafts and artwork from school each year. After a few years, you’ll have a houseful of free and beautiful decorations. And the joy your children will feel seeing their artwork proudly displayed year after year is priceless.

21. Have a warm and cozy Christmas; the old-fashioned way. Pop some popcorn and string it up all over the house.

22. Add some cranberries to your popcorn string for a touch of color. It's very pretty.

23. Decorate your house by bringing the outside in; using pinecones and acorns. Sprinkle with a few drops of pine scented oil if you have it on hand.

24. Invest in a good quality artificial tree after Christmas; when they go on CLEARANCE SALE. Buy good quality (the best you can afford) because they will last many more years than the cheaper trees.

25. Don’t try to get all your tree ornaments in one year (this is especially important for young families just starting out on their own). It took your parents and grandparents many years to collect the ornaments they have and each one is more special because of it.


26. Many grocery stores are offering great deals during the holidays, some are even giving away food or cash. Read the paper every week for your local deals, or if you don’t subscribe to the newspaper, pick up the free ad flyers at the store and take it home so you’ll have time to look it over really good before shopping.

You can also read many of your sale flyers online at our GrocerySavingTips site and print free coupons each week.

27. Also, when you're visiting our Grocery site, you'll be able to read hundreds of our free tips on saving money at the grocery store and cut your food bill in half. With or without coupons.

28. Compare prices. I like to buy items on sale at one store, then a few days later when we need more milk or bread or whatever, I shop at a different store and get their best deals. This has been a great money-saver for us.

29. Store brands are great when making holiday casseroles and side dishes. No one will even notice the difference.

30. Cook your turkey in a large Reynolds oven cooking bag and you won’t need to buy an expensive Butterball. The cheaper brand of Turkey should turn out great. We've been saving money this way for decades.

31. Stock up while everything’s on sale, just an extra can or box here and there. Not a storage closet full. If you end up with too many bargain buys, share them with your local food bank! :o)


32. It’s wonderful to take your family to the movie theater during Christmas break, but this could also be a good time to catch up on the movies that have recently been released on Netflix. No crazy amount of money spent on popcorn.

33. Another great and frugal way to entertain the family during the holidays is to take a drive around your town, or another town nearby, to view their Christmas lights. It’s a family tradition of ours to do this during Christmas week and we look forward to it every year.

34. Get out the board games, the kids will love spending time with you. If you don’t have many to choose from, maybe you can borrow a new game from a friend or neighbor. You never know, they might have a closet full of games and would be delighted to share them with you.

35. Play card games. When the kids are young you can start with Go Fish.

36. Sing. Many churches and community groups have caroling get-togethers in December. What fun!

37. Sit around a warm fire, or cozy up in the living room with blankets and Hot Cocoa. Tell family stories, or have everyone take turns saying how they have been blessed throughout the year, like we do at Thanksgiving. Being thankful shouldn’t end in November, keep the spirit of gratitude going.

38. Have a family gathering to decorate the tree, wrap gifts, and bake cookies. (If you enjoy baking cookies, we'd love to have you join our Cookie Club!)

39. Check out a Christmas book from the library and read it together as a family. Or, decide on a story and have everyone contribute a chapter to create a new Christmas book... maybe even one about your own family. Make a copy for each family member.

Wishing you and your family a very BLESSED Christmas!

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Copyright © 2003, 2011, by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.

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