Think about this: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are three major holidays that occur within a 30’ish-day span of each other.
You’ve got a lot crammed into a short period of time, so the earlier you can start to plan, the better. By planning now, you can take advantage of deals that will save you money and ensure you stick to your holiday budget. And, instead of partaking of the last minute rush, you can move into the holiday season with less stress.
9 Ways Maximize Your Christmas Budget
1. Start Putting Money Aside Now
If you’re reading this post in November, say after Thanksgiving this might be a bit late for you now. But if reading this in September or October and you haven’t started putting money aside, now is the time to start.
Many things go into the creation of your holiday budget. It’s not just about gifts. It’s also about food, decorations, the tree, wrapping paper and many, more things. Make sure you have all your bases covered by reading It’s Never To Early To Start Planning For The Holidays. There you will find information on creating the actual budget for your holidays and ideas and tips to ensure you don’t forget a thing!
Our Holiday Planner is also a great tool that includes over 60 pages to help you manage your entire holiday season from budgets, to meal plans to tracking gifts and throwing a holiday party or cookie swap!
2. Create Your Christmas Meal Plan
The holidays are that time of year where you get to splurge a little bit. You don’t want to eat the same thing you eat all year long right? No, you want to have a feast. But that feast will cost you money.
Sit down and develop your meal plan for the holidays and start buying what you need now when you find the ingredients you’ll need on sale.
By way of example, I know that Christmas Eve dinner is a traditional Italian 7 Fishes Dinner. It can be very expensive to buy everything I need at one time. Instead, when I see what I need like crab meat, shrimp or even haddock on sale, I buy it and put in the freezer. This way instead of spending $12.99 on shrimp, I’ll buy it when it goes on sale in October for $9.99 per pound.
Planning ahead really helps me to save on my food budget and it will help you too.
3. Prep Food Items So You Don’t Rely on Convenience Foods
Most holiday meals can be tricky to pull off. It can be tempting to rely on prepared items and convenience foods that are both more expensive and less appealing than the real thing. You know like those pre-cut up veggies that are all brown on the bottoms and have been sitting there for days.
Instead of wasting money on these items, starting to prep for your big feast a few days in advance. Make as much as you can in the two or three days before your holiday meal, leaving you only with final assembly and actual cooking on Christmas Day.
This will make your meal cheaper, tastier, more healthy and your day less stressful.
4. Get Your Gift Giving List In Order
We’ve become a society obsessed with Christmas gift giving. In the old days, a small token was greatly appreciated by the recipient. Today, you’re a slug if you don’t buy your loved one a car.
Commercialism has happened, but I’m here to tell you, you can insulate yourself against the trickery of ads and give thoughtfully without going into debt, and it all starts with your list.
I’m a big proponent of crossing people off the list, but only you can decide who stays and who goes. But if you develop your list early and know what budget you’re working with, when sales come along you’ll be better prepared to take advantage of them.
5. Reduce The Number of Gifts You’ll Buy
Where does it say you have to buy your kids 20 gifts? Nowhere.
Consider reducing the number of gifts you typically purchase your children and family members to something more reasonable.
Nothing is more discouraging than to see your kids never play with those toys again. It’s like flushing money down the toilet. Instead, invest in a few top notch toys that you know your kids really want. Have it be about quality, not quantity this year.
6. Count Retail, Not The Discounted Price
Here’s a little trick I learned many years ago. When shopping for friends or family count the retail cost of the gift, not the discounted price.
Say you find a cookbook for your mom on sale for $15 from $25 and you normally spend $20 on her, cross her off the list and say you’re done Don’t go out and look for a $5 gift to “make up the difference”. Who’s going to know?
7. Make Your Own Gifts
I love to personalize gifts and so for me making my own gifts to give is a big part of how I justify not spending a fortune on friends or neighbors.
This year I’ve dedicated 100 days to share with you a vast array of wonderful and simple DIY gift ideas, projects, crafts and inspiration that doesn’t cost a lot but makes a big impact.
I’m sure you’ll find something you can make for almost everyone on your list!
8. Wrap Gifts Frugally
I love to use as little as possible when wrapping gifts. Gift bags are wonderful because you can reuse them year after year. I’ve been using the same bags I’ve received for over ten years. Don’t throw them away. Reuse!
Another idea is to purchase plain paper and have the kids draw on it and use it for gifts for the grandparents or aunts and uncles. You can dress it up a bit with some fancy ribbon which is less expensive than fancy wrapping paper.
Or check out this great article on 9 Ways to Package Edible Gifts.
9. Cut Back On Christmas Cards
One of the nice things about the digital age is you can create a lovely card in a program like PicMonkey and digitally send it to friends, relatives and even business associates for free!
Combine pictures and your special holiday greeting and you’ll save yourself a big chunk of change by skipping snail mail.
Don’t be afraid to think out of the box this year and find the ways you can stretch your budget. You’ll still have a wonderful holiday, you just won’t break the bank doing it.