Christmas is going to be here quicker than you can say, “Kris Kringle!” The holidays are supposed to be a special time spent with family and the ones you love most. Too often, Christmas can be the grumpiest time of the year for some people. It has been shown that the stress of finding the perfect Christmas present is enough to ruin the holidays for some people. There have been surveys done showing that on average, people spend anywhere from $850-$1,000 on presents. That’s a lot of money to come up with! I can definitely say that I am guilty of this! Since we only go home for Christmas time, I always make sure that everyone has a gift. Nieces, nephews, parents, siblings, friends, and most importantly – hubby 🙂
In 2016, I spent almost $1,650 on presents. Last year (2017), I spent $1,200 on gifts (see below). I’m not proud of how much I spent, but I’m okay with it because it didn’t hurt the budget or put us in credit card debt. Plus, the smiles on their faces when they opened their gifts were priceless!
Anyways, onto to the part you really care about! Here is how I am able to save up money for Christmas presents without worrying about going into debt. Each Christmas, I try different methods of saving, but all have worked very well for me.
Setting a Budget
In June, I sit down and start planning my budget and figuring out gifts for each person I’m buying for. Yes, I realize I said June, but there is a method to my madness!
By setting a budget, I then know how much money I need to save up for gifts. My budget usually is $20 for friends, gift exchanges, nieces, and nephews. I budget $50 for our parents, my sister, and his younger brother. For hubby, usually, we settle on about $200 per person or plan a small trip.
After setting the budget, I add them all up and divide it by the number of weeks left in the year (usually 26). That tells me how much I need to save each week. If you don’t think you can save that amount each week, lower your budget per person. The goal is to not charge anything this year!
Buy Year Round
I am notorious for starting my Christmas shopping in June! I normally have all of my gifts bought and wrapped by mid-November. By purchasing presents year-round, it lessens the blow of spending all at once and you can find some awesome deals!
First of all, I love starting my Christmas shopping in June because that is when a lot of semi-annual sales are going on! Being the frugal gal I am, I don’t rest until I know I have found the best deal! Why wait until November to buy something, if it’s going to be on sale in June or July? Even in the spring, a lot of winter clothes go on clearance! Easy to stock up for gifts or for yourself!
Buy a Gift Card Each Paycheck
Work out in your budget how much you can afford to let go of. After you’ve figured it out, go to Walmart and buy one of those prepaid Visa cards. Each paycheck, put that amount on a Visa card ($25, $50, $100) and stash it away for Christmas time. Now you have the money set aside already and cannot overspend!
Don’t Forget About Cashback Sites and Price Comparison
The internet is a wonderful tool and the majority of shopping is done online. I believe that Cyber Monday is now more popular than Black Friday! That being said, there are a lot of ways that you can save extra money!
- Unidays (for students)
- ID.me (for students, teachers, military, first responders, etc.)
You can get honest reviews and prices on Amazon when you are searching for items. Using Google Shopping section is also a great way to compare prices!
Leave Items in Your Online Cart
I learned this little trick, as I am a frequent online window shopper! By putting everything I want in the cart and put in all the information, I just do not hit purchase. I exit out of the website and within a day or two, I usually have an email from them asking me to come back and give me a code for a percentage off my order.
Combine Your Christmas Gifts
Due to the fact that we have 10 nieces and nephews, I started doing this and it has saved me so much money! Because there are so many of my favorite babies, I started getting one bigger gift for each family! Trent has two older brothers and each has five kids.
It doesn’t have to be anything super expensive, just something age appropriate and fun! For one set of five, I got them a cotton candy machine with all the supplies. The other five got a snow cone machine with all the extras. Each one cost about $50-$60. That saved us another $100-$150 last year! That covered gifts for three of the four parents, can’t beat that!
I have started up so many side gigs to make extra money. I have started an Etsy store, my own photography business (reselling clothes on Poshmark has been a huge moneymaker for me), I sew on the side for a seamstress, and now I’m blogging and bringing in extra money from that as well. So far, that brings in an extra $1,500 a month on average when I do it part-time.
Our first Christmas together, I made his mother a calendar with all the birthdays, anniversaries, and important dates in it. Each month focused on whoever had an important date that month. For my mom, I made her an 8×8 memory book about our home that was demolished by a tornado. She really struggled with losing everything and I made sure the book was filled with our favorite memories of the house, pictures from the tornado, the rebuilding process, and now their beautiful new home!
Normally it costs about $35 for a 12×12 calendar and $16+ for a book, but I paid nothing but shipping! I had coupons for a free calendar and a free book. Those coupons are online everywhere or if you post on Facebook, someone is sure to have a code you could use! They always have super sales going on as well! Usually, I see minimum 40% off the entire website.
There is nothing wrong with handmade gifts. While it does take a lot of time and effort to make something for someone instead of buying it, that alone means even more than the gift you’d buy them! I paid nothing for those Shutterfly items, but my mother-in-law asks for a calendar every year and my mom still cries every time she pulls that book out.
Being the crafty person I am, handmade is always a must in my present pile! Here are some ideas for handmade gifts
- Pillow covers, pot holders, monogrammed towels, tote bag (if you’re a sewer like me)
- Bath bombs, sugar scrubs, and homemade lotions (here is an awesome one that my MIL found and I go through it like crazy! It’s my favorite lotion)
- A shadow box décor piece that hides a gun, money, or something else valuable
- Wood burned items
- Cross-stitching in a frame
- Hot pads! (These are great! Throw them in the microwave and heat them up for one minute and it’ll warm you right up!)
- Crochet/knit an afghan
- Cookie/hot cocoa/cake in a jar kits
- For the kiddos – homemade crayons (like this)
- Homemade spice rubs for grilling
- Modge podge coasters, wall décor/canvases, wood, etc.
My bread and butter…gift baskets are my FAVORITE!!! They are SO fun to make, everyone loves them, and they can cost as little or as much as you want. Here are some gift basket ideas:
- Movie night (DVD, popcorn, candies, etc, in a large popcorn bowl)
- Spa day (perfect for those handmade spa items)
- Travel kit (travel cubes, neck pillow, snacks, travel sized necessities, accessories for the area (towels, gloves, etc.), Reading material, etc)
- Grilling kit (spices, cast iron press, attachable light/thermometer, wire brush, etc)
- Delicious treats (skillet, cookie mix, etc.)
- Art supplies (for kids or adults)
- “Mini bar in a jar” (little jar with mini alcohol bottles in it)
- Sports day (maybe throw in some tickets? beer, snacks, Jersey, a note giving them the house to themselves and their friends)
- Baking basket (cupcake liners, baking magazines, decorating supplies, frosting tips, cookie cutters)
- Coffee lovers kit ($5 Starbucks gift card, coffee grounds, personalized mug, flavoring)
- Fishing basket (pole, hat, tackle box with hooks and such, bug spray, beer)
- Lottery tickets (tape lottery tickets onto skewer sticks and put one of those styrofoam balls in a vase. Stick the skewers in the styrofoam)
- Book basket (bookmark, new books, bookstore gift card, library card)
- Camping (camping cookout supplies, lantern, bug spray, water filter)
- Devotional basket (daily desk calendar, monogrammed devotional journal, Bible, motivational magnets)
- Date night (new outfit, tickets to a show/in a picnic basket, a bottle of their favorite drink, favorite movie, etc)
- Golf kit (balls, tees, new Polo, beer, membership pass)
- Beer tree (get their favorite beers and stack them like a tree)
- Lego/toy basket (different Lego kits, K-Nex kits)
- Ice cream sundae bar (cones, ice cream bowls, sprinkles, chocolate, caramel, and strawberry sauce)