For a lot of parents, the holidays can be a very stressful time. That’s because more and more families deal with something called 'Christmas Hardships.' They can’t buy all the gifts on their family’s wish lists or prepare every dish for their holiday dinner because of financial setbacks.
As many moms and dads can attest, this might be the happiest time of the year, but at the same time, it’s also one of the costliest. Many families end up spending more money on gifts, décor, and food during the month of December than any other time of the year.
With that being said, it’s no wonder that a lot of people make such a huge effort to get the best deals as early as possible, while saving as much as they can. Here are 20 surefire ways that you can save money this holiday season. Yes, lots of money can be saved this Christmas if with pre-planned shopping, budgeting wisely and make strict list-following, no matter how long or complicated it might feel. There is NO need to break the bank trying to make everyone happy Christmas morning.
20 Budget, Budget, Budget
The first thing parents should definitely do is create a budget and stick to it. Instead of making Amazon wish lists, know how much money you want to spend and try to keep it underneath that amount, if possible. During the holiday season, it’s very easy to get carried away with all of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but you don’t want to run up a debt in credit card bills just because the newest Kate Spade cross-body needs to make its way to your closet. Or better yet, if you buy each one of your kids new iPhone X’s (with stylish cases, of course!).
19 Don’t Give In To Elf On The Shelf
If you already have one, then this doesn’t apply to you, but if you are looking to buy one, don’t do it. And trust us, there are hundreds of thousands of parents who are probably warning you not to make the same mistake they made. The Elf on the Shelf will make your life very, very difficult and in more ways than one. That’s because it will not only cause havoc and destruction all around your home (like those pesky Hershey’s Kisses that it keeps leaving near the bathroom toilet), but you will wake up in the middle of the night with sweats, worried if you moved that Elf or not.
18 Make Homemade Holiday Cards
Sure, a lot of families love to spend plenty of money on Christmas portraits and even more money on customized holiday cards. But is it really worth it? Not really, especially if everyone has already seen your family photos on social media. You are better off saving a good chunk of money by making home made Christmas cards. Or better yet, text someone and wish them a happy holiday or pick up the phone and call them. If you are still into sending Christmas cards though, try the generic blank ones from Target and write a heartfelt message (with your own handwriting) inside instead.
17 Take An Advent Break From Christmas
In other words, save yourself a whole lot of time and effort by skipping anything Christmas-related for 25 days. No, there’s no need for you to roll your eyes there, because this is possible. Christmas isn’t about having the most lights in your front yard (much to the envy of your neighbors), having a tall, beautiful tree that you can share on social media or making every Christmas cookie exchange that is in your calendar. Instead, it’s about being with your family, feeling thankful for everything that you have and enjoying a little peace and relaxation while watching Hallmark movies, right?
16 Bake Your Cookies At Home
During the holiday season, everyone loves to cheat with delicious Christmas cookies. Whether you are planning on attending a cookie swap party, going to cookie decorating classes or simply passing out cookies at your child’s school, we will tell you this: bake them, don’t buy them at the store. You will save tons of money that way. Plus, they will taste and smell so much better if they come straight out of your oven. As a matter of fact, they might end up tasting so good that your family members might end up eating all of them before you even leave the house.
15 You Don’t Have To RSVP For Each Party
One of the best things about the holiday season is getting together with your closest friends and family members. After all, this season is all about spreading peace, love, and joy, right? As fun as it is to attend holiday functions, you don’t have to RSVP for each invitation that you get in the mail, especially if you are on a tight budget this year. Because let’s face it: there’s no way you are going to show up at the PTA mom’s Christmas soiree without her favorite bottle of wine in your hands, right? It’s ok to say no and skip a few parties if you have to.
14 Don’t Feel Pressured To Buy Matching Pajamas
It looks quite cute and looks so much fun on social media, but it can also cost a pretty penny, too. Yes, we are talking about buying matching pajamas for your entire family this holiday season. While there’s no doubt that it’s a great way to bond as a family, you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend hundreds of dollars on a new pajama set for everyone (including your dog, of course) just so you can rack up some additional likes on your social media accounts.
Here’s a tip: buy the pajamas after the holidays when they are on sale and save it for next year. If you have kids, buy one size up.
13 Reuse Old Wrapping Paper
The best part about the holidays is getting to see your children unwrap all of their new toys, gadgets, clothes, and assortment of presents from Santa Claus on Christmas morning, right? Well, guess what: someone has got to wrap all of those presents the night before and no, the Elf on the Shelf is certainly not going to do it. If you are looking to pinch a few pennies this holiday season, try reusing old wrapping paper. In fact, you could even go as far as using birthday party wrapping party with the cute Minions on them. Trust us, no one is going to notice the difference.
12 Forgo Target’s Bullseye Playground
When things look like they are on sale or are incredibly cheap, you might feel like you are getting a good deal. But chances are that you might end up spending more money (and as a result, go over your budget) if you clear off the shelves at say, Target’s Bullseye Playground. And let’s be honest here: do kids really want a bunch of $1 stickers, erasers, pens, and note pads in their stocking stuffers? Not really. They might get excited for about a hot minute, but it’s the big ticket items that they are looking forward to the most.
11 Turn Off The Christmas Lights Early
Another great tradition is getting to put up all of your Christmas lights in the front lawn of your home. Every year it seems like a huge neighborhood competition, with many neighbors trying to out do each other with the best, fanciest, most technological advanced light display on the block. It’s a lot of fun to stroll or take an evening walk with your family and see all the pretty lights. But at the same time, it might be causing your electricity bill to skyrocket. Do yourself a favor and turn off your lights early in the evening. And whatever you do, never leave them on for the entire night.
10 Find Discount Codes
If you are an online shopper (like the good majority of us out there), try looking for online discount codes that you can apply to your final amount before you checkout. A simple Google search will often do the trick. You’d be surprised how much money you can save each time you get a free shipping code or one that saves you 10, 15 or even 25 percent. When you shop online, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up getting what you want without having to pay the full retail price for it too. That’s because the market has become fiercely competitive, and especially around the holiday season as well.
9 Track Your Spending
If you are serious about saving money this holiday season, do yourself a favor and track your spending the same way you would track your own monthly household bills. Make a spreadsheet or write down exactly what you want to get for all of the loved ones that are in your life. Stick to your plan and try not to go overboard with stocking stuffers, gift cards, or other small items that can easily go over your budget. For a lot of people, it’s so easy to simply walk into a Target or a Walmart and go nuts with all the sales they have inside.
8 Skip The Ski Trip
Let’s face it: traveling during the holidays can be a lot of fun, but at the same time it can be a huge headache for families. That’s because it’s very hard to get good deals, the airports are usually packed with cranky travelers and more often than not, your flight might end up delayed or canceled. And yes, hotels love to charge premium prices during this peak season, too. You can save a lot of money by delaying your annual ski trip after New Year’s and going with your family sometime in January or February; it will definitely be less stressful to travel then.
7 Regift Old Gifts
It looks like the cat is out of the bag with this one. There’s a strong possibility that if you said you’ve never regifted an old or unwanted gift that you received, you might be lying. We’ve all done it at least one time in our lives, right? Why waste a perfect opportunity by giving your third-removed cousin that tree ornament from the Pier One discount bin that your Aunt Bonnie gave to your two years ago? If you are not going to use it or if it’s simply been in storage for some times, you are better off giving it to someone who will appreciate a gift you simply don’t want.
6 Use Social Media For Deals
Believe it or not, you can also use social media to snag some good deals out there. There are plenty of trustworthy bloggers and social media influencers out there that share some of the best deals and product codes that their followers can use. More often than not many of these media influencers also get to show you how their product works or also get the model the clothes and accessories that they are promoting just so you can take a look to see if it looks good or not. It’s always better to see a real mom or family use something you want to buy before you purchase it, right?
5 Say Yes To Potlucks
We get it: going out to restaurants can get really expensive, especially if you do it often and with your family, too. That’s why if you want to save money this holiday season, forgo those Friday nights at Benihana and say yes to your neighbor’s potluck dinner instead. This way you can eat on the cheap (pardon us for saying that). Plus, not only do you get to show off your own culinary skills in front of your neighbors, friends, and family, but you can also enjoy all of the homemade food that’s available at the party, too. To top it off, it’s much healthier than eating out at a restaurant, too.
4 Give Group Or Family Gifts
If you are having a hard time deciding on what you want to buy your friends and family members or simply don’t have the time to buy individual gifts for everyone, try a family or group gift. One good idea is giving a gift card or a voucher to a hotel or resort for a night or getting a gift certificate to an indoor entertainment center that the entire family can enjoy. You can get bowling, indoor skydiving or go-karting or even a gift certificate for a Hibachi dinner. It’s without a doubt that everyone will love the group gift as they can enjoy it together.
3 Don’t Buy Anything For Yourself
This might be a hard one, but try not buying any gifts for yourself this season. Sure, if there is one person that knows exactly what you want for Christmas it’s you, but let’s remember: Christmas is not all about the receiving, it’s about the giving. If you really feel the need to get yourself something though (and trust us, we won’t judge you for it either) then wait until at least December 26th, when there will be plenty of after-Christmas sales to choose from. You could also use any gift cards you will most likely receive towards your “me” present then, too.
2 Get Cash (Or Points) Back
Another good way to stretch your dollar this season is by getting cash back or doubling up on your purchase with credit card points. In other words, you get twice as much for the spending that you do for your loved ones (even if you don’t get anything for yourself). From airline miles to hotel points or even points that you can accumulate for everyday purchases at your favorite department stores, you can give and then get back with rewards points. All of those gifts for your aunts, uncles, and cousins can go towards your dream vacation to Italy next summer.
1 Focus On The Kids
Last but not least, if you really want to save money this year, do your best to just focus on your kids. Sometimes you don’t have to give a gift to your partner or loved one. For a lot of couples, the gift of just being there is good enough. As long as everyone is happy, healthy, and laughing, that’s all that should really matter. By focusing on just the kids, you don’t have to feel stressed or pressured to get a good enough present for your spouse when you know that he or she will appreciate all the gifts that money can’t buy, like your undying love!