The holiday season is notorious for costing us money. How often have you gotten to the end of the holidays only to realize that you ended up spending a lot more than you had planned to do?
Thankfully there is a lot of things that you can stop buying this Christmas to save you money!
Saving money at Christmas really is possible, when you have a strong plan and some real will power to stick to it. To make the holidays more affordable, try and save a little each week during the year.
I found that setting up a Christmas bank account and putting $20 a week in to it gave us plenty to use for both buying gifts as well as the extra treat foods and sometimes there is enough to help with a small vacation.
There are some items that I just automatically buy at Christmas without really thinking about it. This Christmas, I will be skipping these things, and saving money instead!
10 Things to Avoid Buying this Christmas to Save You Money
1 New Christmas Outfits
One of the first things we stopped buying at Christmas to save money was new clothes for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, the kids still get clothes in their gifts (presuming they need them) but we don’t buy a nice new “special” outfit for the day.
We always get a family photo taken at my parents at Christmas, it is often the only photo I am really in for the whole year as I am usually the photo-taker at our house! So we do try to dress nicely, but it turns out when you buy a nice dress for little girls, they often only wear it once or twice before they outgrow it!
So, I have decided that we will save our money this year, and they children can just wear something that they already own (and will wear again and again!)
2 Christmas Cards
Are you still buying people Christmas cards? You really ought to stop. They are becoming more and more expensive every year. Last year my children decided to make them instead.
That was great, except postage now is stupidly expensive too. Rather than buy cards for people that we love and miss, we have made a date to skype with them and we have written a family letter to send to everyone via email as well.
3 Wrapping Paper and Ribbons
Buying wrapping paper and plastic ribbons seems like one of the biggest wastes of money at Christmas. What happens 30 seconds after the gift is opened? It gets thrown away!
One option is to use a tea towel or a pillow case to wrap your gifts in. The Japanese have a lovely tradition called Furoshiki where gifts are wrapped in scarves. You can re-use this year after year, or it could be part of the gift!
If you want to buy wrapping paper, that is fine, just buy it in the clearance sales and pop it on the shelf until next year. Don’t pay full price!
4 Fancy Expensive Gifts
It is super hard trying to find gifts for people that have everything. Or for children that want everything for that matter. But do you know what? You can save all that money this Christmas by not buying them.
Yup, chances are, if you buy the thing, by this time next year it will be broken and forgotten. Save yourself the expense and opt for a more frugal gift idea.
5 New Decorations
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to decorate for Christmas! We decorate for Christmas as soon as Thanksgiving is tidied up! But the one thing I do to save money is that I re-use our decorations every year.
It took me 3 years to buy the set that we use as our beautiful nativity scene, as I didn’t have the money up front, so I bought it in stages. You can buy them here. The thing I LOVE about the Willow Tree Nativity characters is that they are so well made, this will become a family heirloom.
6 Over-the-top Expensive Foods
We try and keep our Christmas meals nice and simple – Roasted meat and some vegetables with a selection of homemade desserts. We avoid buying fancy cheese and wine just “because it is Christmas”.
Those sorts of lavish items really add up, and to be honest 90% of people either won’t know the difference, or won’t notice that they aren’t there. Find some tried and true family favorites and make those.
Who cares if you serve macaroni cheese at Christmas if it is your child’s favorite food? Make your own favorite food too, and everyone can be happy. Be wise with your leftovers too.
If there is too much there for you to finish in the next 3 days, pop it in the freezer straight after your Christmas dinner. That way it won’t be spoiled sitting in the fridge uneaten. Most meats and desserts will freeze well.
7 Christmas Crackers
I know everyone loves a good Christmas cracker to pull before the meal begins. But they are just not worth the money that you spend on them. Buy a bag of chocolates and place them on the plates in stead.
The toys that come in crackers get thrown out before the night is out, and those party hats, well, if you reaaaalllly need them, you can make your own with crepe paper for the fraction of the money and waste involved in Christmas crackers.
8 A Christmas Tree
This is a controversial one, I know. What is better for the environment? Cutting down a real tree for 4 weeks inside, or re-using a plastic one year after year? I don’t know.
But what I will tell you is that to get the beautiful trees from the Christmas tree farm in town, will set us back $100. Per year. No thank you.
There are plenty of frugal tree alternatives – you could go and cut your own branch off of a bigger tree. Or you can do what I did 10 years ago and buy a plastic tree on clearance for $50 and re-use it until you cannot reuse it anymore.
9 A Vacation
The holiday season is full of travel for some people. And if you have to travel to see family, that is OK, I get it. But can you make it so that they travel every other year to you instead?
Or if you just plan on going on a vacation, could you try a stay-cation instead? That is where you stay at home, save yourself the money used for staying in hotels and paying for restaurant food, and you use your time to explore your own area instead. Try some activities you haven’t done before in your area.
10 Chocolate Advent Calenders
I know these only cost a few dollars, but do you know what? I still won’t buy them for my children. Why? Well, for one, they cost a few dollars. But also, I don’t want my children starting each day with candy.
Instead we set up an advent calender that has a different activity in it each day for the kids to enjoy.
We used these activities: 25 Christmas Tradition Ideas to Start with Your Family this Year
Also at then end of the month you don’t have a useless plastic tray to get rid of.
So there you are, here are the 10 things I will not be buying this Christmas in order to save my family some money.