How to have an amazing Christmas on a budget

Can you have an amazing Christmas on a budget?

You can, if you have a plan.

Christmas and the holidays can be very expensive so it’s no wonder so many of us start worrying about the cost of everything months before the actual date.

Which is no fun when you think about it, you’re worrying about money for months for just one day.

It’s time to stop worrying and start planning.

Planning to have your best Christmas on a budget that you can afford.

This is not about planning further ahead in order to save more and spend more.

No, we are talking about your budget, the one you can actually afford to allocate to Christmas without ending up with credit card debt in January.

You do not want Christmas debt in January, it’s a dreary enough month without being saddled with debt regret.

Don’t give yourself a Christmas debt hangover

Christmas living room scene with red stockings hanging over a white fireplace

Christmas on a budget ideas

Before you start thinking about a budget take a little time to think about what is important to you.

What are the essential parts of Christmas that you cannot do without? And must have at all costs (apart from debt).

When money has been super tight for us we have listed our priorities like this:

  • Family
  • Traditions
  • Staying within budget
  • No debt
  • Gifts for children
  • Food
  • Decorating

We lived on such a tight budget for a long time that we could not afford to incur debt that had to be paid off in the following months as we did not have the money to do so.

So our budget and no debt came before Christmas gifts and Christmas food in terms of priorities.

Knowing our priorities allowed us to know what we could afford. We could buy Christmas gifts on a budget and we could afford Christmas dinner on a budget.

A budget that we decided on and made sure we stuck to.

Related posts:

How To Have a Debt Free Christmas

10 Christmas Activities on a Budget to Keep the Kids Entertained

How to save for Christmas

The most important thing you can do for Christmas is to start planning early, as in super early.

When you’ve planned what you can afford to spend and afford to save you can create your own Christmas savings plan and build the savings up each paycheck.

It doesn’t matter whether you are saving money for Christmas weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

The best thing to do is to allocate some of each paycheck to Christmas. Create a sinking fund for Christmas and save the money into a separate account.

We are already well into this year so starting now rather than next month is a good idea.

Next year, if you are really organized, why not start in January?

Christmas  tree and presents scene in muted colours

Create A Christmas budget

Christmas tends to cover more than one day and all sorts of activities.

You’ve got school activities, workplace celebrations, family gatherings along with traditions and food and gifts.

So a separate Christmas budget to cover everything that makes up your Christmas makes sense.

It’s not just one line in your standard budget. List out everything you intend to spend on and then allocate what you want to spend on each item.

Total these all up and then reconsider.

Because the first time you do this you will either be shocked at how much that total is. Or realize that perhaps you’ve under budgeted.

Find out how the Festive Money Binder can transform your Christmas budget:

mock up images of smart savers festive money binder

How to save for Christmas

When you are looking at how much to save for Christmas, your total budget will provide you with the answer.

It might also tell you that you need to cut that budget right down because you cannot afford to save that amount between now and Christmas.

How to save for Christmas in future years – create a sinking fund and pay into it every month or paycheck.

That way each payment you make is fairly small and you don’t feel broke in September and October trying to cram in your savings.

Saving For Christmas – 7 Easy Tips to Get Started

The Perfectly Simple 12 Week Christmas Savings Plan

How to find spare money for Christmas

Build no spend days and no spend challenges into the coming weeks/months.

These are challenges to help you re-focus how you spend money with the result that you spend less. Put the money you save into your Christmas savings pot.

Cut your grocery bill

Not your Christmas groceries but your weekly bill between now and then. These 2 tips will really help:

  • Check your trolley contents

Before you go through the checkout, go through your trolley and decide whether you could put a few things back.

It’s amazing how many extra items find their way into your trolley. You could easily save $5-10 a week using this tip.

  • Order your groceries online.

Doing this can help you limit your spending as you can see the total before you checkout.

Aim to reduce your spending by $5-10 each week here too. These posts will help:

How To Reduce Your Grocery Bill: 10 Steps To Cut Right Back

18 Things We Cut From Our Food Shopping List To Save Big Money

homemade christmas gifts of 2 decorated tumblers

Christmas gifts on a budget

Starting thinking about Gifts early

The earlier you start the better a deal you could end up buying. I often buy gifts in the January sales. One caveat, put them somewhere you can find in 11 months time.

I lost 2 bags of presents one year as I forgot I’d bought them as they were too safely hidden!

Related post: Unique Christmas Gifts For Hard To Buy For Family & Friends

Think about Christmas gifts at sales time

There are multiple sales throughout the year which you can pick up genuinely reduced items. The trick is to know what you are wanting to buy and know that it is a good deal.

Consider the Black Friday sales

I say consider because for me, Black Friday is actually a little late for present buying. It would stress me if I hadn’t bought my gifts by then. What if they sell out of what I want?

You should also consider whether the sale price is a true price as so many ‘sales’ are merely inflated prices knocked back down again to normal price.

Snap up last minute Christmas gifts

This flies in the face of my advice above. But some years retailers start reducing their prices before Christmas.

I have found these reductions usually start around the 14th of December or so. Again it would worry me to be relying on these reductions to happen.

And truly, who wants to be present shopping in the 2 weeks before Christmas?

Secret Santa

If you haven’t already then talk to your family about using the Secret Santa method for all adult presents.

Secret Santa works by everyone drawing one name out of the hat and buying for that person alone. It means every adult has one present to open on the day and only one adult present to buy.

You can also have rules attached to Secret Santa such as a $5 limit or the tackiest item you could find in the dollar store/pound shop.

2 flat Christmas trees made from yarn and rolls of yarn

DIY your gifts

Planning early allows you to plan time to DIY your Christmas gifts. If you need to do all your Christmas gifts on a budget then making your own is going to help, a lot.

You don’t need to be an artist or a great chef, I am neither. You just need a little time, a plan and someone else to help you with the best gift ideas.

Fun And Tasty Christmas Food Gifts In A Jar

10 Simple And Beautiful Homemade Food Gifts For Christmas

24 Simple (And Easy) Homemade Gifts Perfect For Christmas

15 Irresistible Christmas Cookie Recipes

How much should I budget for Christmas gifts?

This is a hard one as it’s so variable. Budget what you can afford and what you feel comfortable in spending.

Please don’t take on debt for extra toys for your kids. They will enjoy time with you more than another plastic toy.

What should I get my parents for Christmas with no money?

Your parents do not want you to spend money you don’t have on them. Tell them or get creative and make something for them.

One year my student daughter gave me a cheap photo frame with a poem she had printed out and signed.

One of my best ever presents.

Check out how the Festive Money Binder can help you here:

mock up images of smart savers festive money binder

tips for an amazing christmas on a budget

Homemade Christmas decorations

I am sure you have plenty of decorations from last year so why not lose this part of your budget completely?

If you are missing something special then employ your skills to create your own homemade decorations. These are pretty easy to make and look wonderful:

Fragrant and Festive Pomander

Dried Orange Garland

Winter Loop Yarn Wreath

Check out the Cheap stores

The dollar stores and the pound shop UK equivalents all have Christmas items, some of which are really rather nice. And some not so, in the full spirit of honesty.

If your list says you need something always check in these stores first because if you can get it for a dollar or pound, why wouldn’t you?

homemade pinecone people with felt feet and hats

Go Thrifting for Charity

Thrift stores and charity shops often have a good range of both new and used Christmas gifts and decorations.

I bought a Christmas tree skirt from my local charity shop one year. It was never on my list as I made do without one.

But I saw the rich color of the fabric and was drawn to it and delighted when I realized what it was.

Equally you can find nice gifts that were unwanted by their previous owner and at half price or less than if you bought it in the regular store.

Make Christmas traditions

Traditions that you do year after year do not need to cost any money. And they often make the most wonderful memories. How about these Christmas traditions to start for your family?

  • A large extended family gathering
  • After dinner charades
  • A Christmas walk in the snow (if you are lucky enough to get some, we rarely do in the UK)
  • Driving or walking around your neighborhood to see all the Christmas lights.

The joy of Christmas is family and friends

Christmas dinner place setting

Christmas dinner on a budget

Stock up ahead of time

Baking supplies and the like are often on sale in October and November so it makes sense to buy when the price is low. Meat is also often reduced so buy your turkey and ham early.

Meal plan early

When you know you have to do Christmas dinner on a budget you can make choices about what to spend your limited budget on.

Meat is the most expensive part of your dinner so focus on that and opt for cheaper sides and snacks.

How do I do Christmas on a budget?

To be successfully at having a budget Christmas you do need to be realistic about what your budget can stretch to.

Be honest with yourself and others and limit what you buy. You can anything you want but you can’t have everything.

How can I survive Christmas with no money?

Having no money at Christmas is hard. Try seeking out ways to earn some extra money.

Find ways to save just a dollar or two a week to put toward a small Christmas celebration.

Consider volunteering your time over the holiday period. You will gain a deep satisfaction from helping others have a Christmas.

Christmas on a budget ideas

Your Christmas should be special for you and your family. But you don’t need a large budget to do this. You can have an amazing Christmas on a budget.

Choose what is important to you and focus on these.

The Festive Money Binder will help you start January without debt, find out more here.

mock up images of smart savers festive money binder
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pinterest image for Christmas on a budget

Last Updated on 10th March 2022 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

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